I went and saw Eclipse the other night. I intended to review it just now, but I realized that I never reviewed New Moon,” here on my blog. Considering how my reaction to Eclipse was strongly related to New Moon, I figure I should post both reviews. So, first things first…
It’s no secret that I have issues with the Twilight series. Not because I really begrudge it at all – to be totally honest, I’m mostly indifferent with the material itself – it’s the fact that it has seemingly similar aspects to Companions of the Night, an all-time favorite book of mine that I would like adapt into a film someday. IT was published in 1995, a full ten years before Twilight, and yet now, should I approach a film adaptation of Companions of the Night, it might come across as Twilight-inspired. Totally not the case. In truth, they are very, VERY different. It’s only at first-glance that they appear alike. That, partly, is where my occasional resentment towards the series comes from, coupled with the fact that, in my humble opinion, I think Companions of the Night is a much better book in every regard.
That being said, I have read all four books in the Twilight series. I wanted to know what I was dealing with, so that I would have a thorough understanding of how, exactly, it is different from Companions of the Night and to know how to make them seem different, when the time comes. It’s that whole “friends close, enemies closer” concept. Furthermore, I want to do a lot of adaptation work in the future, so I have had a keen interest in the films of this series because it has a lot of attention and therefore the quality of the screenplay, direction, everything film-related will be under heavy scrutiny, both by critics, die-hard fans, the anti-Twilight crowd, and everyone in-between.
Twilight, I thought, was more comedy than series adaptation. Of all the books, I thought it was the second-worst of the lot, after Breaking Dawn, and the film didn’t, in my opinion, improve it much. It came across as campy in every aspect, from their over-use of slow-motion, voice-over, blocking, pacing, etc. The one thing I DID like about it was the cinematography.
New Moon, meanwhile, was entirely different. With Chris Weitz at the helm this go-round (replacing Catherine Hardwicke) the film managed to be, in my estimation, a success, both as an adaptation and in its own right as a film. It was, overall, well-adapted, well-structured, paced very well, the acting tremendously improved and the cinematography was just as great, if not better; I liked the color palette a lot better in this film. It didn’t have to have the blue, washed-out tones just to indicate the rainy weather. This one had more color, and yet you still knew that rain was always present.
Some things were changed from the book, yes, but honestly, it’s one of the better book-to-screen adaptations that I’ve seen in a long time. They changed some things about Jacob that I thought made him a much better character; I can now understand why there actually are people (mostly girls) who empathize with him in any regard. There were voice-overs, but they were used in a much more appropriate way; not just random passages spoken over the imagery as in Twilight. Also, considering that so much of the book has Bella hearing Edward’s voice in her head, they came up with a relatively decent solution to make such a thing more visual on the screen, with him appearing as this sort of ghostly figure that would vanish. It still seemed a little awkward, but somehow, still worked.
And, of course, Charlie was excellent. He’s probably my favorite part about the films – no exaggeration.
There were some things I did not care for, obviously. The slow-motion was still present and the vampires all still seem very made-up to me (literally, their make-up seems blatantly obvious). The most disappointing thing to me, though, is Edward. He still comes across as…fake to me, just like the other vampires, but more so; his blocking and dialogue still feel very staged, and this stood out a LOT more in New Moon because the rest of the film’s pacing and overall direction was much more sensible and easy. On top of that, he definitely does not look seventeen and I don’t think they’re making him appear very attractive at all; particularly throughout the time spent in Italy. I suppose they didn’t want him to “out-physicalize” Jacob, but I thought that, like in Twilight, too, his physical appearance didn’t really match up with what Bella described. I don’t think it’s for lack of trying, acting-wise, on Pattinson’s part, but I think the character still needs work. The concept of Bella’s “perfection” hasn’t been manifested on the screen yet. Hopefully they’ll figure it out.
On the whole, I was more impressed by the good elements than the bad ones.
This doesn’t, by any means, signify that I am now a fan of the series. I still think thatCompanions of the Night is a much better book. I still don’t really “like” Edward or Jacob in particular. I still think that there’s better “vampire” material out there, even beyond Companions of the Night. And, on that note, I still want to finish Dracula.
But in the context of the series itself, and compared to it’s predecessor, New Moon was, overall, well done. And I think I will probably see it again before it leaves theaters.
post script: if you haven’t heard of or actually read Companions of the Night, I highly recommend it, whether you are a fan of the Twilight series or not.