New moan rising

So I finally watched New Moon, cocooned on the poshest cinema seat I’ve been on yet while being served Coke and popcorn, no less — part of a semi-private screening arranged by an acquaintance. But oh it was dismal. There were fleeting, almost-but-not-quite moments of charm and beauty, but they were betrayed by crummy plotting and cringeworthy words.

Did no one bother to study how Alfonso Cuarón in the third Harry Potter transformed a book into a film that could stand on its own merits? That is, it can be done. No need to be pedestrian about it. No need to do a duplicate, a direct transfer from print to screen. No need to disregard the book’s narrative structure and character development that did have an authenticity of their own, really. (The reunion sequence was way botched. Too much given away too fast. Where was Bella’s ‘a-ha’ moment?)

Set against Twilight, in all its low-budgety, DIY glory, it’s clear to see how New Moon is let down by cheesy dialogue layered over a stale, hard adherence to a selection of scenes from the book. It’s like chunks of good stuff slowly but surely losing flavour with every bite, because the gooey stuff sticking them together just gets increasingly hard to swallow, much less to stomach.

This film seriously needed fewer close-ups and better rhythm and flow between its actors. (Why so much frowning? I could feel a wrinkle developing just from watching all that furrowed brow action.) The only ones to came through with full honours were Billy Burke, playing the long-suffering and much-bewildered Charlie father of Bella, and Michael Sheen aka Tony Blair.

This was ultimately a movie lost to poor pacing (its trailer definitely generated more oomph than its entirety). It could have been a cooler cat, but someone decided to turn a goldmine of characters and actors into patchwork dolls, aided and abetted by intrusive, impatience-inducing background music.

Worse, there didn’t seem to be consistent spontaneity of action or reaction. (And what’s up with the cut-off jeans and black Nikes combo on the wolfies? Plus there was a ridiculous amount of screen time given over to hardbodies emo-ing.) Way too much squeezing in, more cinematic ‘space’ was needed to let things sink in, for goodness’ sake. The two hours passed quickly enough, but it was so easy to break through the de rigueur suspension of disbelief.

But let me end on at least one good note: I was led to remember how much I liked Jacob when he was just the sun shining through a darkened door, as opposed to when he became the rejected howl against the night. (Oh hey, what happened to the bit where Voice of Edward goes, ‘Be happy.’?)

Be happy. Give up the drug. Go towards the light. Maybe I’ll feel better about the movie tomorrow.

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