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Good but put me in Camp Hardwicke
on 13 December 2009
This film has divided fans, I think, as to whether they preferred Twilight, directed by Catherine Hardwicke, or prefer Chris Weitz on board as a new director. Personally, I think Twilight was better and wished they had kept the same director.
There are lots of things to enjoy in this movie. Kristen Stewart is on top form and is growing into a fine actress; Taylor surprised me as a very good Jacob; and Pattinson, of course, is as gorgeous and charismatic as ever (except for his clothes, perhaps - he is dressed like a fusty college prof at times, so I am convinced whoever designed his wardrobe was on Team Jacob! I much preferred his black T-shirts and James Deans jeans in Twilight). Also, if you are fan of the books you will be pleased as it is more loyal to the book 'New Moon' on a scene by scene basis. The soundtrack is good and there are some great scenes, such as the magical underwater scene, and the action scenes in Italy at the end.
However, I think Hardwicke did a better job at capturing the aching, love-lust crazed nature of Bella & Edward's love affair. I disagree with reviewers who say Bella is selfish or pathetic for moping about after Edward goes - the whole point of their love is that, like a modern day Romeo and Juliet, it's all-consuming and they can't live without each other. I liked the intense idealism of their love for each other and I feel it's the breathing heart of the books. That said, in Twilight, every scene between Bella/Edward was so mesmerising - the music and direction and camera angles all sought to squeeze out every drop of the sizzling magic between them. I don't think I've ever seen such amazing on-screen chemistry and I didn't feel the scenes in this film were as strong. I know Edward has a smaller role but some of the love scenes in New Moon (the novel) are the strongest in the series. The scenes at the end where Edward explains his love/reason for leaving seemed very rushed compared to the moving and rather beautiful scenes in the book. Other scenes also felt slightly rushed eg when Edward is walking Bella down the school corridor and tells her she's everything to him - such big, important lines, which almost seemed thrown away; Hardwicke would have had them standing still, with her classic, gorgeous close-ups of their faces, and she would have made those lines really resonate. I do wish they'd also kept in Bella's Lullaby and that exquisite score from Twilight, which I liked so much I bought on CD. I did find the classical music score a little cheesy in places, especially when Bella/Edward are reunited.
The new director previously directed American Pie and I think he's good at high school comedy as some of the best scenes were the comic ones - the night where Bella goes to see a movie is deliciously funny. However, he didn't seem, to me, to be a great director for a sweeping love story.
If you're on Team Jacob, however, you will adore this movie. The friendship between them gets massive screen-time and there is a great chemistry between Taylor/Kristen.
I personally feel that capturing a book on screen isn't just about being 100% loyal to it - it's about capturing the spirit, the mood, the feel of it. I preferred the feel and intensity of Twilight and this film wasn't totally there for me. I'd like to see Hardwicke come back on board for Breaking Dawn.