Here's an Idea Bella: Run. Fast. With Both Feet.

Katie and I became slightly enraged talking to one another (not AT one another) about New Moon. As it’s been well documented, I think this film is one giant sparkle away from complete suckage, but who am I to begrudge the tween girls their indulgences. Wait…that’s exactly what we do below. So, without further ado, Katie and I go head-to-head with the Twihards. We fully expect backlash. Indeed, we do.

DEANNA
Good afternoon friend. So, I hear you’ve had the pleasure of seeing New Moon. There’s just one thing I want to point out before we start our undeath match unreview — that director Chris Weitz has been saying all over the place that if people just don’t like and/or get the film it’s because it’s not made for them — it’s for the “fans.” Personally, I think this is just one giant cop out.

Thoughts?

KATIE
Um, wow. That’s, like, a supernatural-sized cop out. Would you care for a slice of humble-pie with that statement? I get that he was burned pretty badly by his work on The Golden Compass but, come on, dude. That’s like saying people who hate the Twilight series of books just aren’t “fans” of the genre. A good movie is a good movie. And a bad one is a rotten tomato.

Period.

Likewise for books. And, for the record, that doesn’t mean a bad movie or book can’t be a commercial success.

DEANNA
That’s what I think too. And it’s not like he’s not crying his way all the way to the bank. You don’t make this film for the artistic integrity — you make this film for the cheque. How disheartening is it for fan boys everywhere that New Moon might gross more than The Dark Knight?

With that out of the way, what did you think? You’ve read the book (I’ve only read Twilight): how does the film compare? I hear it’s quite faithful?

KATIE
I’ll admit to having read the entire series. I’ll even admit to enjoying the first book. But someone should have stopped me after the first one, really. Reading the rest of the series was like gorging on a giant bag of chips. Even though you’re aware of the trans-fatty, artery-clogging empty calories you’re shoveling into your body, your grease-laden fingers keep reaching in while you tell yourself the next chip will be the last one until you go in again to find nothing but crumbs and shame.

That, my friend, is why I tell anyone I care about to not read on past book one.

Was New Moon faithful to the book? Yes. (Can I mention now that this was also probably the worst book in the series? I haven’t decided fully if it was this book or Breaking Dawn that fully crushed out any glimmer of the simple pleasure I got out of Twilight.) For the most part, I think film adaptations of YA books have to be faithful to the original, though. That doesn’t mean there can’t still be surprises but they’re mostly seen in the delivery, whether it’s the acting or special effects or cinematography.

A big surprise for me was the substandard CGI werewolves. I don’t recall reading about any of those in the book. Not a one.

What’s your take on the movie having not read the book?

DEANNA
Therein lies the difference between you and I — I couldn’t stand the first book. The writing just didn’t appeal me (that’s my super-kind way of saying that it’s some of the worst writing I’ve actually ever seen in print). Annnywaay, I guess it’s a good thing that the film’s are turning out better than the movies.

I hope your stomach and your fingers have recovered from all that grease. I had to cleanse my palette with some A.S. Byatt this week just to remind myself that reading can be fun. We also watched a great indie film called King of California with Evan Rachel Wood (a contemporary, me thinks, of Kristen Stewart) just so I wouldn’t keep talking about how truly bad New Moon was.

Let me start off with the one thing I liked about the film — the setting. Meyers kind of hit a gold mine with her setting. It’s got great atmosphere with the gorgeous, luscious forests and the blue, rainy wash over everything. All this works to just pull you into the story.

Wait, did I just say story? I meant contrived non-plot meant to drive non-conflict so that Meyers can drag the utterly predictable ending out for another two books. But there are so many preposterous things that happen in New Moon that it’s hard to take it seriously. Edward just spent the ENTIRE last film and first book protecting Bella, killing people, ripping off their heads, and he and his family have since taken her under their wings (or fangs, perhaps. Heh.). Naturally, it’s Bella’s birthday and she doesn’t want any presents because, like I said over at Tragic Right Hip, teenage girls just HATE getting stuff and being celebrated. But the one present she does get gives her a teeny, tiny paper cut that turns Jasper wild in a millisecond.

Huh.

So, toward the end of Twilight when Bella’s half-bleeding to death at the dance studio and Jasper’s there fighting for her good virtue and all of that does nothing? One itsy, bitsy (and Hollywood-enhanced) paper cut sends him off into a fury that takes half the Cullen family to hold him back. So, of course, it’s all just too dangerous for soppy, unable-to-be-think-for-herself Bella and Edward dumps her — for her own good. Who does that? Seriously, WHO does that? And more so, who the hell takes it?

And we haven’t even gone twenty minutes into the film and I’m already this annoyed.

KATIE
Hey, I never said it was good writing, just that I couldn’t put the books down..! I think I was hoping that somehow it would get better. New Moon was really awful. I’ve never hated a protagonist so much for her sheer impotence and social inertia. And I was so disappointed in this book that I don’t know if I honestly could have enjoyed the film. There was just something about the first book/film in the series that spoke to the tween girl somewhere in me that was lost in the rest of the series.

Speaking of teen girls though, have you seen this article “Girls Just Wanna Have Fangs” claiming the backlash against Twi-hard fans is unwarranted? I’d love to hear what you think about that. Personally, I don’t buy into the fact that the backlash is because it’s basically a girls only club. I take issue with the fact that Bella is one of the most pathetic female protagonists ever put to paper. New Moon really made me despise her. That whole scene where she’s staring out the window with her internal monologue as the months go by? You should have seen how that played out in the book.

True love means taking the good with the bad. Not dumping someone because your “brother” can’t control his killer instincts. But just because someone who you think is your soul mate does happen to dump you for exactly that reason, it doesn’t give you the right to mope yourself into oblivion. And puh-lease! You’re so not going to die because of that gut-wrenching stomach ache. Get over yourself, Bella. You think you’re the only person who’s been dumped in the existence of humankind? I get that she’s a teenage girl but seriously the drama queen act was way over the top.

However, as you say, the setting is definitely something that Meyer captured really well in the series and the movies so far have reflected that lush, wild beauty. So, um, props to her for giving Forks, Washington the Twilight bump in tourism, I guess.

Back to the movie though, I think one of the worst movie crimes that can be committed in a world where vampires and shape shifters exist is allowing poorly executed CGI to appear on the screen. In a day and age where technology can bring to life creatures like Gollum from The Lord of the Rings, Thestrals from Harry Potter, the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park, you’d think these creatures — essentially over-sized wolves — would have been a little slicker. Instead, I found them distracting.

DEANNA
I can’t argue with you there — Bella is such a drip. You really see it in New Moon. I know I complained about this over at Tragic Right Hip but that scene (SPOILER) when Laurent traps her in that meadow and says something akin to: “Yeah, you’ve pissed off my friend so I’m just going to eat you” and BELLA DOES NOTHING really infuriates me. I know she’s all “swoon” “moan” “when will Edward save me” but honestly? A scary, 300-year-old vampire is about to suck the life force right out of you, and you don’t even run? You don’t kick? You don’t scream? Seriously: WTF.

Oh, gosh, that whole “I’m so very sad because my boyfriend broke up with me” stuff lasted way, way too long. I was a teenager (once) and there are two kinds of romances: those that are worthy of tears and those that are not. And I realize we’re all supposed to think that this one is the former and not the latter but that was way too played out. It felt so manipulative — like they need to stretch this inane story out over three more movies so, gasp, they need to break up just so they can get back together and introduce the Jacob subplot. Yawn.

I’m glad I didn’t get that far in the books. I could barely take reading to the end of Twilight.

Agreed, super props for all the wackos visiting Forks because of their obsession with the series. However, the question I really want to ask is do you think the Twilight craze will slow down after the last movie is out? Or do you think generations of girls will be reading these books?

Yes, also agreed re: the bad CGI wolves. Although, Taylor Lautner does a good job in the film — he’s not as wooden as the other two.

So, out of 10?

KATIE
SRSLY! Bella’s behaviour (and the consequences of said behaviour) defies Darwin’s theory about the survival of the fittest. By all rights, she should have died in this movie. If not by her own hand then at the hands of a vampire.

As for the staying power of Twilight in pop culture, it’s hard to say, but my hunch is the series is not going to be a “classic” by any stretch of the imagination. I think even the Twi-hard fans can agree that Stephenie Meyer isn’t ever going to win an award for literary prowess despite their adoration of the franchise. When compared to some other contemporary YA books, I think the series is a flash in the pan.

I’d hate to think that generations of girls are going to be reading this shoddy example of a female protagonist. I don’t want to make too big an issue of this because it’s already been said on a variety of other sites but the damsel in distress mode of thinking that’s predominant in the books is not something young girls should be reading. At least not without context from a parent or guardian. Some of that context should include the fact that it wasn’t very long ago that women were considered property not people. I would hope that somewhere in the future the series is viewed in the same light as Tintin in the Congo.

As a movie, I’m going to give it a 4.5/10. Again, I think I’m being generous, possibly because of the holiday season of giving. I do believe, if you’re a hardcore fan, this movie is true to the book but the book was the lamest of the bunch so that’s not saying much.

DEANNA
It’s infuriating and amazing at the same time. I suppose there are tween girl fantasies that never go away — the disaster of your first love, the awkwardness of being the new kid — but these are themes, they shouldn’t be defining characteristics of a hero. The biggest problem that I have with Bella, and with the series in general, is that she’s always defining herself against the boys. When Edward disappears, it’s Jacob that pulls her up. That’s completely the wrong message.

Let me digress for a moment, for years I was angry at Louisa May Alcott. How dare she write Jo right out of the happy ending with Laurie. But then, I just GOT it, it’s not about the romantic ending, it’s about Jo’s independence. Think about it: Little Women was published in 1868.

Bella’s independence is not hard won. It’s exactly what you point out — the entire history of the women’s movement seems a little obliterated by Stephanie Meyers. I’m not claiming that it’s wrong to want to settle down and raise a family, not in the least, but it’s important to note that independence means a lot more than asking a boy to prom. There’s none of that undercurrent in these novels (I’m making assumptions based on the films, natch) and it’s frustrating to say the least.

Agreed. In a way, I think Meyers is akin to those awful V.C. Andrews books people were reading when I was in grade school, Flowers in the Attic and the like. I’m happy to be proved wrong but their pop culture clout hasn’t really stood the test of time, right? Also, we haven’t even gotten into the whole appropriation of culture thingy. Perhaps it’s not even necessary to say it out loud.

So, you’re exactly right: 4.5 out of 10 for the cheese factor, Taylor Lautner’s abs (which I feel utterly gross even typing out), and the fact that this film was made for the “fans.”

What fun this has been!

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