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Review: New Moon by DrChocolate

NewMoon

DrChocolate sees the movies I can’t afford to see in theaters (apparently including movies I’d rather gouge my eyes out than sit through) so this site can stay current.

Time to get crucified. Any sort of credibility I may have built up with those of you who don’t know me and read Luke’s site and my hyperbole ridden reviews is probably about to dry up. My wife is a fan of the Twilight series, and because I make her sit through such manly fare as Blackhawk Down and because she indulges my penchant for B-movies I have agreed to see the Twilight films with her. Really, New Moon isn’t nearly as bad as you think it would be and it’s miles better than Twilight, which had some fun style but was ultimately clunky and hollow. Additionally, I’m going with a two pronged approach for this review: one addressing the movie itself; second, I’m going to frame that review with my thoughts on the Twilight phenom/backlash itself.

First, the movie: again, it’s not as bad as most of you’d probably imagine. It’s actually entertaining. However, it is by no means a great movie either – just an entertaining one. The trio of actors is functional enough, with the strangely gorgeous Kristen Stewart being the best, despite the frustrating vacillation of her character. All three of the leads are attractive, but in an odd way, each with their own appealing imperfections (Pattinson’s shovel face, Lautner’s caveman brow, Stewart’s general awkwardness) – which to me was smart casting. Their non-traditional beauty makes them interesting and out of the CW-casting-call ordinary – it serves them well during the thin times in the movie. They’re always watch-able and Stewart has good chemistry with both love interests making the love triangle a little more intriguing. Michael Sheen (who’s never less than perfect) steals the movie as he delightfully chomps his way through his scenes as the head of an aristocratic vampire family; Dakota Fanning is pretty game as a sadistic vamp too. With its fair share of contrivances and conveniences the plot is thin (I haven’t read the books) but apparently this is the set-up book in the series, which always means a thinner plot. Overall, it’s not great, it’s entertaining, and I’ve seen far worse movies far more deserving of the derision and hatred that is piled, unremittingly, upon this franchise. That leads me to my next point.

In all honesty, I find the abject hatred of this franchise rather unfortunate. Why? Because I think the hate is almost solely because of the fan base. Teen girls and moms. There’s a thinly veiled misogyny in the contempt for this series. Because it is adored and loved by teen girls and moms it must be awful. Right? Unfortunately, that’s sort of endemic in our critical society. Anything beloved by girls is trite and not of value (look at the user ratings breakdown on imdb.com – I’m positive a large portion of the 14,000+ voters who rated it a 1 did not, in fact, see the film). Think about if for a second. Titanic suffered a similar, vitriolic backlash. While a better movie than New Moon, there was a massive backlash against it once teen girls embraced its romance. Leo Dicaprio suffered the same fate. Guys in my age group, late-20s to early-30s, despised him at the time, almost solely because girls loved him and his Jack Dawson character. Now, not so much; he’s actually embraced by males my age. Why? He’s now made manly movies like Blood Diamond and The Departed and dates supermodels. He’s not in “girly” flicks anymore. New Moon suffers a similar sexist fate. I’m not a card carrying member of NOW and I’m not saying it shouldn’t be viewed critically, where we still might find it very lacking, but rather it shouldn’t be outright dismissed because of its target demographic and fan base. Boy-driven entertainment hasn’t proven to be any better lately than this franchise. The Transformers series is equally vapid and convenient, maybe more so. It is built around simplistic, hackneyed stories and is stuffed with things to make pubescent boys and college age slackers squeal, not the least of which is the ridiculous Megan Fox. They are the boy equivalent of Twilight yet receive almost none of the ire. I admit that the obsession with Twilight is disconcerting and may speak to some larger societal concern, but obsession again is not reason to disregard something. Have you seen ComiCon and cos players lately? If we treated those unhealthy obsessions they way we do a Twilighters fixation we’d have to dismiss Star Wars, LOST, Halo, comic movies and any number of other manias ranging from the good to the awful. If I where to dismiss female-friendly fare out of hand I would miss out on a few things I really have a fondness for. The smart, touching and funny Love Actually. The effervescent pop of the Spice Girls (honestly, reevaluate this girl power act and you’ll find some irresistible pop hooks and savvy song construction). So You Think You Can Dance, while manufactured and manipulative, with its subtext of dance education has help reinvigorate a discipline that has previously suffered a cultural dearth in this country. I just don’t think you can invalidate entertainment solely on judging the fan base; regardless of whether it is done consciously or not.

In closing, is there more worthwhile entertainment out there than the Twilight series? Yes, of course. Is there worse than this? Plenty (The Christmas Carol, the remakes of The Wicker Man and Friday the 13th). Should you see it? I don’t know, I’m afraid many of you have already made up your minds and my review and gender treatise won’t do anything to sway your opinions. Overall, it’s a reasonably enjoyable, if tame and simplistic, movie with some fun moments and performances, but it’s not deserving of the effusive praise nor the raging revulsion heaped upon it’s mild shoulders.

  • You mis-interpreted, at the very least, my hate for this franchise. It has nothing to do with the audience and everything to do with simplistic, disturbingly passionate writing that reads like a pulpy romance with Fabio on the cover. I had the same problem with Harry Potter. I see nothing wrong with pre-pubescent girls (and even boys) reading this smut, but these grown women I see posting status messages on Facebook about how dreamy a pre-pubescent fictional character is and what they did with said fictional character in their dreams last night should be ashamed of themselves.

    What would these same women say about grown men drooling over Miley Cyrus or even Taylor Swift? It's just as disgusting when the child being drooled over is fictional. I have no hate for women that just read these books, it's just as mind-numbing as many of the video games I play, but when they start talking about these characters as if they're real, I break out the hate stick and start hunting them down like the Seniors in Dazed and confused.

    As far as Leonardo DiCaprio goes, my hate for him has nothing to do with the throngs of girls and now women that fall for him and everything to do with the fact that I think he's an over-rated actor. He can't do an accent to save his life (he was horrible in Blood Diamond and worse in The Man in the Iron Mask) and the only roles he plays convincingly are the ones not far from his true self (see Catch Me if You Can). I didn't hate him in The Departed, but I did hate him in Gangs of New York, both directed by Scorsese and in both he was out-shined by his many co-stars. I hated Titanic for its weak, cliche story as well, not for its fans and followers. James Cameron makes beautiful, technically-sound movies, but behind all the flash and spectacle are boring, empty stories.

    In short, you have over-simplified and falsely analyzed at least one viewer's hate for this franchise and I think you may find the same for many of the Twilight-haters you chastise here.

  • You mis-interpreted, at the very least, my hate for this franchise. It has nothing to do with the audience and everything to do with simplistic, disturbingly passionate writing that reads like a pulpy romance with Fabio on the cover. I had the same problem with Harry Potter. I see nothing wrong with pre-pubescent girls (and even boys) reading this smut, but these grown women I see posting status messages on Facebook about how dreamy a pre-pubescent fictional character is and what they did with said fictional character in their dreams last night should be ashamed of themselves.

    What would these same women say about grown men drooling over Miley Cyrus or even Taylor Swift? It's just as disgusting when the child being drooled over is fictional. I have no hate for women that just read these books, it's just as mind-numbing as many of the video games I play, but when they start talking about these characters as if they're real, I break out the hate stick and start hunting them down like the Seniors in Dazed and confused.

    As far as Leonardo DiCaprio goes, my hate for him has nothing to do with the throngs of girls and now women that fall for him and everything to do with the fact that I think he's an over-rated actor. He can't do an accent to save his life (he was horrible in Blood Diamond and worse in The Man in the Iron Mask) and the only roles he plays convincingly are the ones not far from his true self (see Catch Me if You Can). I didn't hate him in The Departed, but I did hate him in Gangs of New York, both directed by Scorsese and in both he was out-shined by his many co-stars. I hated Titanic for its weak, cliche story as well, not for its fans and followers. James Cameron makes beautiful, technically-sound movies, but behind all the flash and spectacle are boring, empty stories.

    In short, you have over-simplified and falsely analyzed at least one viewer's hate for this franchise and I think you may find the same for many of the Twilight-haters you chastise here.

  • Facebook User

    I have to say I dismiss the likes of Lost, Halo, and the majority of comic book movies and only recently decided Star Wars wasn't quite as ridiculous as I thought.

    But I will say the reason I don't read or participate in things like Dan Brown books, Twilight or Cafe Rio is because I don't like to be one of the herd. It's just too predictable.

  • DrChocolate

    You seem to be taking this rather personally Luke.

    If it came across as that's the ONLY reason people hate Twilight, that was not my intention. I realize there are those out there with better reasons for hating these books and movies, yourself included. But I think you have to acknowledge that there is a lot of hate directed at it because of it's fan base. I realize this isn't the only reason, but I firmly believe it's a large reason. Nor was this a chastisement but rather an observation of those I've encountered who rant against Twilight because said rant usually includes quite a few sexist, misogynistic remarks about “lonely fat girls” and “unfulfilled soccer moms.” If you notice my review does say its vapid, empty and frothy but ultimately still somewhat entertaining.

    I too have no regard for the obsessed of this series and find the fixation on Edward (who actually is like 115 or something so he's not pre-pubescent, per se) and Jacob (actually a teenager) extremely creepy – hence when I said it speaks to a larger societal ill. And seriously don't ignore Hollywood and societies obsession with young and young looking female stars. But anothers obsession alone shouldn't rule out viewership – if it does, toss out your Star Wars laserdiscs and laser disc player that you got solely to watch them. Toss them out cause there are some creepy ass dudes out there who think that shiz is for real. Jedi is an actual religion to some. I also know you well enough to know you're partially playing devils advocate to my seemingly man-card revoking argument as well as stating your opinion, and I'm sure there is some payback here for the whole Hitch thing. (the Leo comment wasn't directed at you either – I just know a lot of guys who flip-flopped on that rather recently).

    In the end, I stand by my argument, but did not mean it to sound preachy. A fair amount of guys instantly ex out a lot of girl oriented material – the term “chick flick” alone carries major negative connotations – solely because its girl oriented. I think this maybe a rather extreme, polarizing case of that.