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The Warsaw Voice » Culture » December 2, 2009
Film review
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The Twilight Saga: New Moon
December 2, 2009 By Witold Żygulski   
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How can a movie panned by users of the Internet Movie Database, the largest movie website (an average rating of 4.5 out of ten after almost 23,000 votes) manage to top the American box-office and stay there for several weeks? It can if it's a vampire film or, more specifically, The Twilight Saga: New Moon, directed by Chris Weitz (The Golden Compass, About a Boy) and based on the second book of a best-selling series written by Stephenie Meyer. In just three days after release, it raked in $141 million in the United States, which has been bested only by such blockbusters as Spider-Man 3 and The Dark Knight.

A year ago the first part of the saga, Twilight directed by Catherine Hardwicke (Thirteen), introduced viewers around the world to Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart), a teenage girl from a small American town, who fell in love with Edward Cullen (Robert Pattison), a mysterious classmate who turned out to be a vampire. In the second part, the romance is in full bloom, but only until Bella's birthday party when one of the members of the Cullen vampire family lunges at the girl on seeing blood coming from a paper-cut on her finger. Edward reacts in time to save Bella, but shortly afterwards, the entire family of "vegetarian" vampires (the Cullens have relinquished human blood) moves out of town to keep Bella safe.

The girl descends into depression, but it soon turns out that the quiet American provinces are populated by more than one supernatural species... Enter the werewolves who, to the viewer's surprise, protect humans from evil vampires who are about to swamp the neighborhood. The vampires are headed by the Volturi, vampire aristocrats who are far from sharing the vegetarian ethics of the Cullens.

The problem with films and sequels based on sagas spanning nobody knows how many volumes is that the ending is usually predictable. It is clear the main characters must remain unharmed, unless it's the final installment. You can, however, bet on which of the supporting characters will "drop out" at which point and under what circumstances.

There is little evidence of the young actors honing their skills. They mostly practice the same sets of facial expressions they sported in the previous part. There are no surprises from either Stewart, whose best role to date remains the Jodie Foster's daughter part she played in Panic Room (2002) when she was 12, or Pattison, who first appeared on the big screen in 2005 as Cedric Diggory in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

But it would be unfair to say that The Twilight Saga: New Moon is a complete waste of time, especially for adolescents, at whom the film is aimed.

The movie is spectacular at times, the make-up looks grim enough and the plot is fast-paced, even though it gets somewhat chaotic towards the end with rush-edited scenes. The score by Alexandre Desplat (Girl with a Pear Earring, Syriana, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) is pleasing.

Meyer, 36, is a spectacular case of an amateur writer who has written her way to millions in her bank account, a career trajectory similar to that of J. K. Rowling.

She has not been resting on her laurels and has been pumping out one Twilight book after another. Film makers are snatching them up and the third part of the story, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, directed by David Slade (30 Days of Night), will be out in mid-2010.
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