Twilight Saga: New Moon
The Holy Grail for movie makers has always been creating a successful franchise. in the golden age of Hollywood film series such as ‘The Thin Man’ or ‘Charlie Chan’ kept loyal fans coming back for flick after flick over the course of many years just to catch up on the latest exploits of their favorite characters. Sometimes the producers just fall into a series of movies commissioning each installment or two individually. Then there is the ideal situation of tapping into an already well established and popular franchise. Typically these films are adaptations of current literary works were the people enjoying the books are anxious to lineup for the film version. In recent years the most successful film franchises have entered into the supernatural with films such as ‘The Lord of the Rings’ and ‘Harry Potter’. The latest franchise that is building momentum is the ‘Twilight Sag’ based on the series of novels by imaginative author Stephenie Meyer. I have only recently begun to read her ‘Twilight’ books but I was most imposed by her novel about aliens taking over the Earth call ‘The Host’. Naturally, changes are necessary when transporting a work of literature to the visual format of the screen. Many diehard fans that don’t grasp this fact will be disappointed when certain scenes or even entire sub-plots are removed or drastically altered. No matter how faithful the film maker tries to be to the book a certain amount of dramatic license is required to fit the constraints of film. So far the two installments of this series have done fairly well in depicting the themes and flow of the novels intact confining the differences to what was necessary to preserve continuity in a two hour film. The first film, ‘Twilight’ became a cultural phenomena resulting in tons of anticipation for the second installment under consideration here, ‘New Moon’. Many theaters sold out only hours after the box office opened.
Taking on the frequently thankless task of adapting a passionately popular novel to a screenplay fell to experienced producer and script writer Melissa Rosenberg. She held this position for the first film of the series and her script for the third installment, ‘Eclipse’. Besides screenplays for several well known TV series she brought another literary character to cable by writing for Showtime’s dark hit ‘Dexter’. Part of her talent is the ability to capture the nuances of a novel’s characters and maintain the essence of them in her scripts. It is also a very wise decision on the part of the producers to retain her services throughout the entire series permitting her to really express a feel for the characters. With a story like this where the emotional content overwhelms most other aspects of the plot being able to organically develop the characters is vital to fan acceptance. Vampires have been trending towards a more romantic presentation for awhile now but the ‘Twilight Saga ‘has made these former monster movie icons into the romantic leads of this generation. These bloodthirsty creatures of the night certainly have come a long way from the misshapen beings they used to be. Now they tend to be beautiful teen girls or soulfully handsome young men filled with angst and hidden passion. Meyer has tapped into this in a remarkable way creating a vast and deeply loyal fan base.
Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) had been a typical girl in high school when her father relocated them after a divorce to a small, isolated town in the American Northwest. Her life was drastically changed forever when she fell in love with a local boy, Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson). Now young love is typically something memorable but when the boy is actually a vampire over a century old then the romance is bound to be very interesting. Initially their relationship goes well with Bella readily accepted by Edward’s family of vampires. They jokingly refer to themselves as ‘vegetarian’ since they refrain from feeding on humans. They have made dangerous enemies the vampire community, particularly with a nomadic tribe that lusts after Bella. It turns out that her blood ranks a thirty on the vampire Zagat’s guide. While celebrating her 18th birthday with Edward’s family, the Cullens, Bella cuts her finger and Edward’s younger brother Jasper (Jackson Rathbone) lunges for her. Realizing she cannot be safe and upset over the prospect of growing old while Edward remains eternally young the pair of young lovers reluctantly split with the Cullens leaving town. At this point in any good romance novel you need to introduce the triangle. The third point is occupied by Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner) who happens to belong to a tribe of werewolves and ancestral enemies of vampires. They have refrained from attacking the Cullens because of their policy of not feeding on humans. Another well used plot romantic plot device used here is the erroneous news that Bella took her own life that has Edward rushing back from his self imposed exile in Italy. Back home he is targeted by one of the nomadic vamps, Victoria (Rachelle Lefevre), whose mate was killed by Edward.
One thing that has to be kept in mind is the target audience of this series of books and films; teen and tween girls. There is more than enough action to keep the guys fully engaged amped up by some excellent special effects but fundamentally this is intended to be a melodramatic romance novel. The romantic triangle has split the young ladies in the audience into either ‘team Edward’ or ‘Team Jacob’. Forget the fact that this is a choice between vampire or wolf man, both deadly creatures, but for the audience it comes down to the sullen werewolf or the angst ridden vampire. While the film does hold together coherently it is not the kind of vampire versus werewolf flick older members of the audience grew up watching.