The Twilight Saga: New Moon Shines Brightly!

November 23, 2009 11:03 pm

Tags: 3D, Edward Cullen, Kristen Stewart, New Moon, New Moon review, Prime Focus, Renderosity, Robert Pattinson, Stephenie Meyer, Tippet Studios, Twilight

file_443667.jpgIt was a dark and stormy night as hundreds of excited, but well-mannered revelers (females outnumbering males 100 to 1), stood in a seemingly never-ending line that twisted for blocks in front of a small town movie complex. It did not matter if the moviegoers were 8 or 80, the comradery of the moment morphed all into one age category…eternal youth.

Everyone huddled under umbrellas, as the rain pounded relentlessly. Yet, no one but me appeared to notice the constant stream of water running off the umbrellas, soaking their arms and backsides. I kept calculating the time that I was going to be sitting in wet clothes once the doors opened at 11pm…one hour before the two-hour and ten minute movie started.

In a moment of sadistic pleasure, it was somewhat comforting to know that this same scenario was being played out, on Nov. 19, across the USA. Thousands of fans awaited the doors to open for the midnight showing of the most anticipated event of the year; the second movie of The Twilight Saga: New Moon series.

I suspected that I would be a part of history-in-the-making; and the next morning proved me right. New Moon had broken all “single-day-opening records,” bringing in $72.7 million on Nov. 20th, which included the $26.3 million in 3,514 theaters across the country for the one-minute after midnight showing.

While waiting in line, I asked one girl what team she was on. “Everyone loves Edward,” she smiled slyly before adding, “but tonight we are all on Team Jacob.” Her answer set the tone for the evening’s performance.

Like his predecessor, Catherine Hardwicke, the new director, Chris Weitz, stayed true to the fantasy world that Stephenie Meyer created, for her wildly successful Twilight Saga vampire novels. This time around, the budget was a lot bigger, and it showed in the improved production, the incredible special effects, the spectacular CGI animation, and most notably in the vampire sparkle.

Although New Moon was eight minutes longer than its predecessor, its downfall (and perhaps the downfall of any novel made into a movie) was that the storyline felt rushed. Even so, Weitz did an outstanding job of condensing a 608 page epic novel into a believable story…that even the most devoted “Twilight” fans would approve of.

Copyright 2009 Summit Entertainment. All rights reserved

Running time constraints can also be blamed for the movie’s plotline faltering in the beginning. The passion between the star-crossed lovers, Bella (Kristen Stewart) and Edward (Robert Pattinson), is glossed-over. The lack of affection between the two stars in the opening scenes diminished the tragedy of Edward’s sudden departure; and the emotional impact of his leaving Bella alone and lost in the middle of the woods.

This should have been a bring-out-the-hankies moment, but instead it acted as a mere transition to move Bella closer to her next love interest, Jacob Black, played to perfection by young Taylor Lautner.

Copyright 2009 Summit Entertainment. All rights reserved

In the novel, Edward’s abandonment was heart wrenching…in the movie…not so much. This was a disappointment, as Kristen Stewart did her job well, and the fault clearly fell upon the shoulders of the director and/or editor, for not giving Bella and Edward more “together time” before the separation. The audience really wanted to feel Bella’s pain: the backbone of New Moon…Bella coming to grips with her broken heart.

In New Moon, the storyline also shifted from vampire to wolf pack. In fact, the entire Cullen Family were only together in two brief scenes. To the movie’s credit, the audience did get to see more of Edward in the movie than in the book; as smoky, ghostlike glimpses of Bella’s lost love were laced throughout the movie. The SFX were very well done, and added a magical element to the storyline.

Although the exterior filming moved from the coast of Oregon to Vancouver, B.C, like the first movie, the scenery was breathtaking. However, the most notable improvement was in the special effects.

As much as I enjoyed the tender passion of the love story in Twilight, the ridiculous and nearly non-existent special effects in the low budget first movie, turned serious scenes into slapstick misadventures.

Again, it all comes back to budget, and New Moon had state-of-the-art SFX. The distracting, herky-jerky vampire wirework from Twilight; was improved immensely by not only the CGI work, but also by the superb cinematography, which created vampires with fluid and graceful movements.

The highly anticipated morphing of the wolves was also a pleasant surprise, as they were rendered with extreme detail, down to the movement of each hair and eye reflection. Tippett Studios were meticulous in creating believable beasts; no shortcuts were taken in bringing Stephenie Meyer’s vision to fruition.

A special “thank you” goes out to Prime Focus VFX, for contributing 175 VFX shots for the film, including CG water, atmospherics, CG matte painting and environment work. But their most important contribution to the movie was the new and improved “vampire sparkle.” Edward Cullen has never looked so good in the sunlight.

Besides the wolf pack, the other new addition to The Twilight Saga: New Moon was the introduction of the powerful Italian vampires known simply as the Volturi. Two of the more prominent members were masterfully played by Michael Sheen as Aro, and Dakota Fanning as Jane. Again, no expense was spared for the climax of the movie’s exterior scenes, which were shot on location in Italy; as well as the beautiful interior soundstage recreation of the Volturi lair.

Copyright 2009 Summit Entertainment. All rights reserved

The love triangle will keep the female viewers coming back for more, but it will be the final vampire showdown Battle Royal, that will get the male viewers to shell out the price of a ticket for a second time.

Copyright 2009 Summit Entertainment. All rights reserved

Yet, it is the on (and off-screen) chemistry between the talented Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, and Taylor Lautner that truly makes The Twilight Saga: New Moon movie a mega-hit. The anticipated, mythical performances of each of the leads, is the sole reason that movie-goers joyfully stood in the icy, cold, winter rain for hours. After all, isn’t that what going to the movies is all about…the magic?

  • Official Twilight Saga: New Moon website
  • Eclipse, the next movie in the Twilight Saga, is currently scheduled for release on June 30, 2010.
  • In her upcoming interview with FX Supervisor Eric Pascarelli, and President, VFX, Worldwide Mike Fink, Dee-Marie uncovers the details on how the Prime Focus VFX team created Edward’s sparkle.

All supporting images are copyright 2009 Summit Entertainment. All rights reserved.

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November 23, 2009

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Article Comments

nickcharles ( posted at 11:25PM Thu, 26 November 2009 wife and daughter dragged me and my son to the theater to see this movie. Still too much of a love story for my liking, but the effects this time around were definitely very, very cool. Especially the morphing of the wolves, which was simply fantastic. If you are a Twilight fan (which I, of course, am not), you will not be disappointed. And if you are like me and are dragged reluctantly to see this by your significant other, at least you have some great eye-candy throughout. A most excellent review, Dee-Marie!

deemarie ( posted at 12:37PM Fri, 27 November 2009

Thanks so much Nick. That was very nice of you to make "New Moon" a family outing. I really think there was tons of "guy" stuff in the second movie of the Twilight Saga to make it an enjoyable experience for all family members. Also, don't forget to mark your date books for June 30, 2010...That is when the next episode in the Twilight Sage, “Eclipse,” is scheduled to premiere.

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