Monday, 10 December 2012

The Twilight Saga: New Moon (2009)

“You can’t trust vampires. Trust me.”

Well, this is much better. Still narrowing my eyes somewhat at the socially conservative subtext, but this film has drama in it, and tension, and actual stuff happening, which makes for a much better viewing experience. Also, the direction is better. And there’s none of that horrible, dull, washed out picture quality that still plagued the first film. All that said, Bella is still as wet as the English Channel and I still reckon Edward is a right bastard, which I suspect is not the effect intended.

Still, this is much better. I like the way that both vampires and werewolves (on which the spotlight now falls) are explained in terms of Native American mythology, which adds a nice bit of cultural tension, although I’m in no position to judge the way that the culture has been depicted. We have a love triangle set up, with Bella torn between Jacob (whom I like) and Edward (whom I don’t). Jacob is cool, a nice guy, and interested in Bella for who she is, while Edward is none of those things as he’s far too busy brooding over things like how he envies those who have the option of suicide. Lovely.

There’s some cool vampirey stuff, though. I love the concept of the Volturi- arrogant, legalistic, cultured Italian vampires. The scene where Bella gets a paper cut and tempts Jasper to go after her blood may be the biggest vampire cliché ever, but it’s fun. But there are some strong religious overtones: Carlisle, for example, wants to be goof “even if I’m damned regardless”. There are theological overtones to the whole concept of vampirism as depicted here. The vampires believe that their very state condemns them to Hell, literally, because of what they are, and this is why Edward doesn’t want to make Bella into a vampire.

If we look at this through the prism of this being a metaphor for sex, though, it becomes disturbing. Are we being told that those of us who have committed fornication are doomed to go to Hell? Is Stephenie Meyer one of those right-wing Christians from red state America who confuses morality with consensual sex? I’m no Christian, but  seem to recall that Jesus spent an awful lot of time talking about the evils of poverty and that his main comment on sex was to refuse to condemn some prostitutes. Just saying.

Anyway, Edward, being a broody, selfish twat, dumps Bella. Good for her. His entire vampire family have to bugger off and adopt new identities as, being ageless, they can arouse suspicion by stating in one place too long. Certain questions arise from this, though: for example, how can Carlisle get a social security number so he can practise as a doctor? How does the whole bureaucracy thing work? Probably best not to think too hard about such things.

Jacob spends a lot of time topless once he joins the pack, which my girlfriend rather likes for some reason. He’s a nice guy, with hinterland but none of Edward’s Byronic arsedness. The wolf pack consists of some rather bad CGI, unfortunately, b ut this bit is rather good drama. They’re basically good guys, but with the potential to lash out in rage and, as the character of Emily rather literally shows us, this is a rather clunky metaphor for men and their capacity for sudden domestic violence.
Bella has essentially been dumped by both Edward and Jacob by the end of the film, so she becomes an adrenaline junkie, as you do. At one point it looks as though Edward may bugger off to Italy and commit suicide, but Bella eventually stops him. Meh. It would have been cool if he’d died, stupidly, just like Romeo, by committing suicide in Italy because he mistakenly thought his lover was dead but, sadly, it’s not to be. And yes, the various Romeo and Juliet references throughout the film are not exactly subtle.

The ending I don’t like at all: Bella has to wait until graduation before Edward makes her a vampire (i.e. takes her virginity). And he has a precondition: she has to marry him first. I REALLY don’t like what’s being said here. Kids, if you’re reading this, do NOT marry anyone before you know whether you’re sexually compatible with them first, because sex is really, really, emotionally important. It’s a central, bonding thing to any relationship. Marriage before sex is stupid, reckless and immoral.

Still, that was much better than the first film.

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