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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Sep 29, 2010

Twilight: New Moon

JUST LIKE "Star Trek" and "Harry Potter", "Twilight" has become a cult series with diehard fans who unconditionally love its characters and their fictional world. The first movie shows us that "Twilight" is at its heart a teen romance between Bella (Kristen Stewart), a high school student, and Edward (Robert Pattison), a vampire who's more than 100 years old. "New Moon" starts with Bella and Edward still sweethearts, with her having a dream wondering what would happen in their future with Edward remaining forever young and she aging like an old hag.

Of course, Edward can help turn her into a vampire so she also won't age anymore, but he's against the idea. When Bella celebrates her 18th birthday, she gets a paper cut while they're with Edward's family and Edward's brother, Jasper (Jackson Rathbone), almost killed her. Edward says that with him around her, she'll be in grave danger and she'd be more safe if he'd vanish from her life so he makes a sacrifice and disappears with his family. We can't understand why he does this when he knew that there are vampire assassins out to drink her blood, led by Victoria (Rachelle Lefevre), whose mate was killed in the first flick.

In the next half hour, Bella spends a lot of time looking lovelorn and depressed, isolating herself even from her own dad, until she gets comforted by the buff Native American, Jacob (Taylor Lautner). He has had the hots for since they met in the first film and he always appears shirtless to show off his bulging muscles as her protector when she gets fond of stunt driving with a motorcycle. However, complications arise when she discovers that he's really a werewolf. Their love triangle becomes deadly since a werewolf like Jacob simply hates the guts of a vampire like Edward. This has divided the fans of the "Twilight Saga" into two separate groups: Team Edward (who probably prefer his Goth looks) and Team Jacob (who are excited by his hunky physique that nearly steals the show.)

The first film was megged by Catherine Hardwicke and she did a pretty good job in transferring Stephanie Meyer's first novel into the big screen. The sequel is now directed by Chris Weitz, who megged the big flop "Golden Compass". His biggest accomplishment here is in the CGI creatures that were also an asset in "Golden Compass", like the huge white bears. Here, he comes up with gigantic werewolves that are really quite spectacular on screen. He tries his best to be faithful to the novel, probably scared that if he'd institute many changes, its ardent fans will protest. But the best film adaptations are those that acknowledge the fact that films and novels are entirely different from each other, so a filmmaker needs not be slavishly faithful to his source, just like "Gone With the Wind", "Dr. Zhivago" and even some of the "Harry Potter" films.

Fans of Pattinson will surely be missing him as he's absent on screen for a long time. It's Lautner whose stock rises in this movie and he springs quite a big surprise to "Twilight" fans. As we all know, Edward is the love of Bella's life, but when she's on screen with Lautner, they make a better connection and have better chemistry, whether Pattinson's fans admit it or not. Honestly, why would anyone choose a pale corpse with waxed hair over someone who's so alive and virile? Maybe Bella is really a necrophiliac.

In fairness to Stewart, she delivers a credible portrayal as the lovesick Bella, whether she's quiet or screaming in her sleep. Giving good support is Michael Sheen as Aro, head of the Volturi, a royal vampire council in Italy that Bella goes to when she learned that Edward thought she's dead and also wants to die. But former child star Dakota Fanning is wasted as Jane, a Volturi enforcer who does nothing much in the movie.

Sluggishly paced, the film can stand some editing to make it tighter and not run for 2 hours and 10 minutes just concentrating on Bella's unfulfilled yearning for Edward. But the film's biggest drawback is its script that features laughably cheesy lines like Edward saying to Bella: "You give me everything just by breathing." We're sure most sane girls would laugh at such corniness. But if you're an avid fan, it's only natural to expect that you'll ignore all the film's weak points and just be thrilled by seeing your lovable characters once again on the big screen. This review, then, is not for such fans, but for more sensible viewers without fan mentality who can still discern what's good and what's bad in the movies they see. Meantime, the fans can't wait to see the third installment, "Eclipse", to be shown next year.