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Fun with Franchises: Final Thoughts on the Twilight Saga — New Moon

All right… we’ve watched the film, talked about it, had fun with it, and then we went and listed our favorite images from the film yesterday. Now all that’s left is to finish up with what we actually thought about the film as a whole.

This is our space to go over what we liked and didn’t like about each film we watch for Fun with Franchises. We talk about specific things as we get to them during the articles, and we’ll mention our general thoughts during them, but we don’t really ever get to sit and do broad strokes during the articles. So this is why we do these Final Thoughts. We get to take a step back and talk about the films as a whole, rather than discussing specific scenes or images. We’ll talk about how we felt about the film, how we liked it as a film, how we liked it as a member of its franchise, and where we think it falls within that franchise.

Again, it’s not very complicated, but it is a place to find out what we actually thought about certain movies, since, while we’re having fun with them in the articles, it may get difficult to tell sometimes. Because we’ll just rip things to shreds for fun, even if we love them.

So here are our final thoughts on The Twilight Saga: New Moon:

Final Thoughts on The Twilight Saga: New Moon:

Colin:

This is where I regret using up my one-sentence response on the first film. It’d be a cop-out for me to write just one sentence about why this movie was horrible and leave it at that. So here goes.

Let’s begin with the story, if you could call it that. This franchise is all about the love triangle between Bella, Edward and Jacob — since Jacob didn’t really figure into the plot of the first film, this has to be where he makes his grand entrance and becomes something of a love interest. We all knew this. But in order to achieve this goal, Meyer needed Edward out of the picture, so she invented a non-issue (Bella accidentally cutting herself and provoking an attack from Jasper) to make it necessary for the Cullens to up and leave out of nowhere and leave Bella heartbroken. The execution was so clumsy, they may as well have skipped it and put it all in one of Kristen Stewarts insufferable voiceovers. We then get to experience Bella at her most emo, which might have been enjoyable for teenage girls, but was enough to make me literally pause the movie and go buy alcohol. She takes solace in Jacob’s company, which is fine, and they start the healing process as they fix up old dirt bikes. This is where I’ll pause to vent about something that made me insane.

Stephenie Meyer is clearly writing all of this from her own perspective and with her own values. I imagine most writers do; that’s what makes sense to them. But when it starts getting overt to the point of absurdity, it becomes impossible to ignore. The dirt bikes are my example. I don’t ride dirt bikes, but it’s something that young people can do as a hobby. Like any other sport that’s featured in the X-Games, you take certain precautions when you do it so as not to hurt yourself. Even little kids ride dirt bikes — my cousins were junior competitors when they were seven years old. But the idea of something with two wheels and an engine is too much for most moms, especially when the person riding it is — gasp — female. So when Bella turns up with the dirt bikes to fix up, it becomes a matter of course that she’s attempting stereotypical reckless behavior. Even Bella says, “You probably think this is TOTALLY reckless…” which was so obviously Meyer talking that it made me cringe. Jacob goes along with it for a while and helps her out with it, but when they’re on their way to try out the bikes, he tries to talk her out of it as though she were standing on a ledge 20 floors up. God forbid a girl ever get on a dirt bike. I get that even Bella was into it as a reckless thing from the get-go, but the way it was understood by all characters involved that her decision to try out a dirt bike was really a suicide note was ludicrous. I’m confused as to why it even had to be dirt bikes in the first place. Is it because Jacob had to aid in her “self-destructive behavior,” or was it just something conveniently suicidal? The idea that this whole portion of the film revolving around the premise that dirt bikes = death was so amateurish that it felt like one of those games you played with friends when you were four years old. The sort where you’d jump from the sofa to a chair, because if you touched the carpet, you were dead! Fucking REALLY, right now, Stephenie? Now, back to the awful plot.

So, after the dirt bike incident, we get a replay of the dynamics that occurred in the first film. Bella’s interested in Jacob, but something about him and the people around him are kinda weird. He ends up avoiding her, and when she goes to seek him out, she finds out (“spectacularly”) that he’s a werewolf. This is all following the exact same pattern as Bella’s encounter with Edward — some might call that a brilliant parallel, but I call it lazy.

Oh, and by the way, during all of this, Bella is being pursued by a complete nothing villain who wants to kill Bella because the Cullens killed her boyfriend at the end of the last movie. When she and the boyfriend decided to kill Bella after coming across her at a family baseball game. When you get rid of everything else, that’s what this entire film is at its core — the aftermath of an altercation at a vampire baseball game. How anyone could defend the integrity of the first two films (I’m generously leaving the other three out of this) is beyond me.  

Now we come to the ending. By chance, Jacob answers the phone in Bella’s house while she’s standing right there (which is completely normal) and makes Edward think that she’s committed suicide. Without confirming anything, Edward flies from Rio to Italy to beg some other vampires to kill him, since that’s the only way he knows how to die. So we’ll temporarily forget about the existence of cell phones, the internet and any other forms of communication — Alice can see the future, so she knows where he is and where he’ll be leaving from. There are any number of ways she could stop him from getting on a plane. But no matter, now they need to save him from basically killing himself. So they do. But in doing so, they attract the attention of some vampire overlords. They get away after some interrogation, and end up back in Forks. Having forgotten completely about the reason he and his family left in the first place, which still hasn’t changed, Edward proposes to her. And that’s the movie. Seriously. That was a whole movie. More has happened in single 23 minute sitcoms.

How about the good things? Alice is pretty cool, but they don’t use her magnificently in this movie. Michael Sheen is always a welcome sight, but again — in this context, he’s not quite amazing. And Dakota. She’s great. I like Dakota as an evil vampire. So they did well there. The show-stopper for me, and probably the only joy I experienced in watching this movie came from the car Alice steals. Put a Porsche 997 Turbo in a movie, and I’ll pay attention for at least as long as it’s around. Supposedly, Stephenie Meyer’s brothers are car guys, so a lot of the car stuff in the books and films is based on their input. I don’t agree with all the car choices, but this one gets my seal of approval.

People might make the claim that this movie compares favorably with the first film. I won’t make that claim, but I won’t deny it, either. The production quality is up on this one, but I’ve seen public access shows with better production quality than Twilight. This film sucks beyond belief, but all you need to say to remind me that it’s better than the first movie is, “Baseball game.” The shots article we did showed that there are a few isolated images that do well on their own, but most of them are more a testament to Mike’s ability to catch them than they are a credit to the filmmakers’ ability to present them.

There’s no doubt in my mind that Twilight is objectively the worse of the first two films, but I might hate this one just as much. It’s not that I give the first film a break; it’s that I expect more from the second film. Just like with Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones, I wish that they’d learned from the first film and not messed up the second one as well. But you shouldn’t expect such things from a franchise like this. And so, for being one of the most nauseating movies I’ve seen in years, New Moon gets two thumbs down my own throat. 

My Final Thoughts:

I’m gonna take a different approach for these final thoughts.

Because I wasn’t really against this movie as much as I was against the first one. Because, to me, I don’t need a coherent story or things that make sense as long as I see some sense of fun. Case and point — Ocean’s Twelve. I have no idea what the fuck happened in that movie, it was bizarre as fuck, the whole thing was essentially pointless, but goddamnit if those fifteen people weren’t having loads of fun making that movie. And that’s really all I need to enjoy that movie. Just seeing them enjoy themselves.

Now, I take things in context, so the level in which this film is having fun is fathoms below the Ocean’s films, but compared to the first movie, this was Moulin fucking Rouge. The dialogue was a bit jauntier (Note: everything I say here is comparative to this franchise and only this franchise. I feel I must qualify this a billion times), and the whole story wasn’t a slow walk toward death, it felt like, which is funny, considering there’s a huge chunk of this movie that’s all suicidal depression. But they montage part of it, and Edward’s gone for a lot of it, so it’s okay.

But my point was, because I don’t hate this movie nearly as much as the first one, I’m gonna go a different way with my final thoughts, which is to suggest ways in which they could have kept the same basic story and made the movie much, much better.

First — the cut on Bella’s finger, as Colin said — horrible reason for Edward to decide he needs to leave her. They should have kept it to the same thing it was last movie (which I know Colin hates, but still — I’d rather they be consistent), which is — he should be making out with her and be so tempted to bite her that he almost does, unbeknownst to her (since she’s so into it and has no idea), and then backs away like, “Oh fuck, I actually can kill this girl.” Because then it becomes tangible, and then it becomes about that temptation instead of a blatant religious temptation, which they essentially spell out in detail with the whole “soul” thing. Completely stupid.

They should have been making out on her birthday, and her goal is to lose her virginity to him, and he almost bites her, and then he pulls away and they don’t fuck, and that gets him to thinking about how easily he can kill her (and even if he’s worried about ruining her soul thing, you can still do it internally and explain it later, when he leaves her). And then he becomes removed the rest of the night, and while she’s sleeping, thinks about this. Then the next day, while she’s at school, he’s in her room, making up his mind, then you have that scene with them in the woods. And at first he should say the Carlisle thing, but then eventually tell her it’s because of her and all that. He can’t control himself, he doesn’t want to “ruin her” or whatever, and all that. And he should leave. Then she can be all depressed and then eventually go to Jacob once it seems like Edward isn’t coming back.

Then you have impetus for her going to hang out with Jacob, and then he is built up as a legitimate alternative to Edward, as opposed to some kid she went to hang out with so he can help her “see” Jacob again, who she falls in love with, but not in that same way. I would buy this franchise if it went, “Edward’s movie, Jacob’s movie, decision movie.” That would make sense to me.

Also — the thrill-seeking is totally unnecessary. There’s gotta be a better way to handle that. I like the emails to Alice, but the voiceover is like a shiv in my side. Also, that Laurent scene — complete waste of time. Him showing up like, “Oh, by the way, I know they’re gone, I’m gonna kill you now” — so stupid. She should run into him or seek him out (possibly even with Jacob), and be like, “Hey, they’re gone, do you know where they went?” and then eventually his impulses would take over and he’d try to kill her.

But anyway — I think she should hang out with the wolves for most of this movie, I think she should find out about them, and then there should be the idea that they, too, are dangerous for her to be around. And then I think, if you’re gonna bring Victoria into this, there should be a moment where the wolves chase Victoria, and Bella is in the middle of it, and maybe Edward is watching over her the whole time, and then she goes over the cliff, and he thinks she’s dead, and then we get the Volturi thing. That I can understand. (More, anyway. It’s still not great.)

I’d say to have Jacob almost kill her, and that’s what gets her to go over the cliff, but, let’s face it — he’s a little bitch, and Edward wouldn’t want to kill himself then, he’d want to kill Jacob. But mostly the first one. But it could be indirectly Jacob’s fault, as he maybe goes full beast on Victoria and knocks Bella over.

That’s all I’m saying — there are options for this to be a better movie. It’s not that difficult a fix. There are pieces here to make this halfway decent. Which is why I’m so surprised the movies turned out as shitty as they have.

My sneaking suspicion is that they truly didn’t give a shit. I think they threw the first one together, knowing the books had some sort of following, and then it hit and they weren’t expecting it. So they threw the second one together — which, they literally threw this movie together. It came out a year to almost the day after the first one came out. For reference — the only franchises in the modern era (we’re not counting Bond here, since it was easier to throw a movie together in a year, pre-1970) to have a sequel come out a year after the first one came out are — Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Scary Movie, Spy Kids, Scream, Look Who’s Talking, and Police Academy. (That should really be the “and” for every film list. “And Police Academy.” Especially when it’s a list of Best Picture nominees.)

No other franchise has put together a sequel that fast. Not even fucking Crocodile Dundee put together a sequel that fast. Not even Groan Ups put together a sequel that fast.

Now — Lord of the Rings — they knew it would be a trilogy, so that doesn’t count. Spy Kids — Robert Rodriguez makes those in his garage, so that doesn’t count. Look Who’s Talking and Police Academy were the 80s, and that almost doesn’t count. Scary Movie requires no effort whatsoever to put out. Now, the last two — Harry Potter — they knew that would make money. They started shooting the second one three days after the first one came out. They were in production on that before the first one came out. And Scream — they hired the writer to pen five movies after they bought the first script, so the ideas were already set for sequels.

New Moon, on the other hand — they didn’t even have the rights to the other books until the first movie opened. They didn’t even announce the movie until the first Twilight movie made money. Which means, within 365 days, they announced the movie, wrote the script (though apparently Melissa Rosenberg wrote the script before the first one came out. It sounds like it was on spec), assembled the cast, and shot and edited the movie. I’ll do you one better. They didn’t start shooting this movie until the third week of March. And it came out in the third week of November. So, within seven months, they put this entire movie together, essentially. I can’t imagine they tried that hard in making this look good.

You can tell — the cinematography goes up in the third movie. It looks like they’re trying. The story is still shit, but you can tell after the second one, they tried harder. Here, it looks like they’re barely trying at all and are just trying to capitalize on the lightning storm by striking while the iron was hot and making all the money while they could. And it worked. But the movie is still shit.

That’s really all I got. I think the movie isn’t great, but, for me, was more entertaining than the last one, purely because they seem to be having more fun with the dialogue (at times) and not being so emo and stupid for the entire movie (though at second glance, it’s almost as bad as the second one). It’s still not very good, and it’s clear they didn’t give a shit and threw it together just to print money.

Compared to the first movie, though — this is almost passable. So there’s that.

– – – – – – – – – –

Tomorrow starts Eclipse.

(See the rest of the Fun with Franchises articles here.)

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