MOVIE REVIEW ★★ ½ Werewolves, Vampires, and Love Triangles, Oh My!

Lautner Brings Depth to Jacob Black, But Film Ultimately Caters to Fangirls

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Jacob’s soulful brown eyes mend Bella’s heart in Edward’s absence.
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Bella (Kristen Stewart) and Edward (Robert Pattinson) share an intimate moment.
courtesy of Summit Entertainment

Twilight: New Moon

Directed by Chris Weitz

Screenplay by Melissa Rosenberg, based off Stephanie Meyer’s original novel

Starring Kristen Stewart, Taylor Lautner, and Robert Pattinson

Rated PG-13

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The Twilight scene is a cult. This is a fact. Granted, about 95 percent of the cult is female, so perhaps a “far-reaching fanbase” would be a more appropriate description. According to my friend, who did a headcount, out of the 196 viewers in my theater, there were only 12 male audience members.

You need to be in a particular mood to watch any of the Twilight movies. You need to be able to laugh about cheesy lines, somewhat bad acting, and have the capacity to withstand at least five girls around you ogle shamelessly at topless actors. When I dragged a few of my friends to the New Moon premiere, I justified to myself that I was only attending the premiere to relieve a week of stress by tapping into my inner teenybopper. What I didn’t expect to do was squeal along with the legions of other college girls.

The bulk of the book is devoted to Bella coping with the absence of Edward (and really, it’s probably harder for the fervent fangirls to cope with his absence), and she is able to slowly recuperate through the aid of Jacob Black, her younger Quileute Indian friend. While most fans of the book series regard New Moon as one of the worst in the quartet because the brooding lead male is missing for roughly 400 pages, the film is able to convert more than a few passionate Team Edward fans to Team Jacob fans.

Knowing the lukewarm appreciation of fans for the second book, the director tried a little too hard to draw the audience in. While Edward was all enigma, post-cordially rumpled hair and lascivious gazes in the first film, the gaunt-faced immortal only appears in the beginning and ending twenty minutes of New Moon. While many fans of the pasty-faced vampire may wail, fear not. If you are nondiscriminatory in your appreciation for good-looking boys, do not turn away so quickly. Taylor Lautner was able to reprise the role of Jacob only after he promised to work out extensively because the director believed that he wasn’t “strong-looking enough” for New Moon. Jacob Black is supposedly the pillar of both emotional and physical support for Bella when an incident causes Edward to depart. Lautner has bulked up for the role, resulting in perfectly toned abs and alarming biceps — a sight that the director never fails to capitalize on.

The predicted shift in numbers from Team Edward to Team Jacob lies in the sheer contrast of the characters as portrayed on screen. While in the book Jacob can be relegated to being the cute but obnoxious younger boy who follows you around like a lost puppy, Taylor Lautner is able to bring to Jacob a depth that was never fully explored in the book. Because Stephanie Meyer’s quartet always returned to the epic love story between Bella and Edward, no matter how adoring or toned Bella’s admirer Jacob is, he never stood a chance against Bella’s steadfast devotion to Edward.

In the film rendition of New Moon, Jacob gives Edward a run for his money. Whereas Edward’s brief scenes comprise of only furrowed eyebrows, anguished pursed lips and sighs of a Shakespearean Hamlet, Jacob is a completely different story. With the generous amount of screen time allocated to Lautner, he is able to ensnare the audience with his portrayal of Jacob Black. Warm, sincere, and struck with an innocent love for Bella, Jacob has the capacity to wrench hearts with his soulful brown eyes. The fact that the boy also possesses a pinup-worthy body doesn’t hurt either. Lautner’s performance allows me to believe that he is a promising young actor and New Moon has only pushed him into the realm of celebrity-dom faster.

While Edward’s departure from Bella is a bit rushed, I think the director should be condemned more for his amateur transitions. To show the passage of time in Edward’s absence, Bella is huddled in front of her bedroom window overlayed with floating text of the month. The CGI is terrible, action scenes are all slowed down to the point of being ridiculously contrived, and the cinematography is mediocre at best. I can understand the poor action scenes — we all know that Twilight isn’t exactly the Matrix series. However, since it is not, stop trying to emulate action films. It only cheapens those parts more and underscores the directors’ negligence for the fighting scenes.

Ultimately, New Moon is able to pull through. Little moments throughout the film make it so much more enjoyable. For instance, Dakota Fanning has a brief cameo. With her sleekly swept chignon and charcoal-darkened eyes, Fanning leaves a lasting impression despite her sparse screen time. Also be sure to brace yourself for the scenes where Jacob unceremoniously takes off his shirt. The loud squeals will remind you again that you are watching a B-rated film with the likes of teenyboppers (in both mind and age).