11/23/2009 01:39:00 pm

New Moon

Posted by Tom French |

Bella and Edward.jpg

Warning: Spoilers ahead

Gem, Matt and I went and saw New Moon and it turned out to be even more terrible than the first movie, which is quite an achievement. While I spent much of the first film laughing, I spent much of this one saying "Oh my goodness" in exasperation at the poisonous trash that was defecating all over our eyes. Matt sat next to me and regularly said words which I shan't repeat on the blog, but it summed up my feelings better than the ones I could express to the limits of my Christian piety.

The acting was terrible, Edward still looks like a sad, cancer patient, and the writing was atrocious ("I love you, I can't live without you, you're my everything, I'm terrible for you, you're my breath, get away from me, but I actually really need you"). The only good bit of script was when Edward quoted a chunk of Shakespeare. It had a rather jarring effect finding such quality amongst such ugliness, kinda like finding a Rembrandt in a crack house.

I know I'm sounding rather harsh. But I can't find much to redeem this film. If you're a lady Jacob Black's abs are impressive and they might redeem the film a little (as they did for Lesley). There was a squeal in the cinema from many females when he took off his shirt for the first time. He spends almost the entire film with nothing but a pair of shorts on. His clothes get destroyed when he turns into a werewolf, but somehow he has an endless supply of jeans cut-offs at his disposal for when he goes back to human form. One imagines he spends all his time when not a werewolf at Wal Mart buying jeans then going home and cutting off the legs.

But apart from Jacob's conspicuous abs (which did little for me except make me feel inferior) this film is pretty useless. I don't think any of the character's are happy for any moment of the film. They're all depressed and spend the whole time moping about lost love. It makes for infuriating watching.

And then there are the messages. Which I think are probably the most horrendous bit of the film. Because I can cope with bad films if they aren't spreading terrible lies. This film is emotional porn at its worst.

There's the total dependence of Bella and Jacob on each other. They live and breath each other, and yet when they're together they just natter at each other (Bella: Turn me into a vampire, Edward: No, I won't, I love you and wouldn't do that to you, Bella: Turn me into a vampire, Edward: No, I won't... and so it goes). They are so co-dependant that when Edward thinks Bella has died he tries to kill himself, only to be saved by Bella as she proves to him that she's still alive. And this attempted suicide, sparkling in the sun, is seen as Edward's great romantic devotion to Bella. If a guy kills himself because he can't have his girlfriend any more, it's not romantic, it's totally unhealthy. Why do people want to hold up Bella and Edward's relationship as the epitome of true love? Teenage girls don't need any more encouragement to get into unhealthy relationships.

Romeo and Juliet is held up through out the film as this archetypal love story for Bella and Edward, as if Romeo and Juliet are the pinnacle of romance. They're not. The play isn't a romance, it's tragedy! Romeo and Juliet die! It wasn't as if Shakespeare wrote it to say "Hey kid's, be like this. Woo!"

If Edward was a vampire with any courage, when he found out Bella was dead, he wouldn't kill himself, at risk of sounding terribly clichéd, he'd decide to keep living with the pain, working at healing and making something good of his life, because that's what Bella would want. Except she probably wouldn't because Bella is one of the most selfish leading ladies in cinema since Scarlet O'Hara. She spends the whole film using and manipulating Jacob because it makes her feel better about Edward being gone and then using and manipulating Edward to make her feel good and turn her into a vampire.

If you want to get all Christian about it, then Bella and Edward are in the high priesthood for the idolatry of relationship. Surely Stephanie Mayer, the Mormon, can see that elevating anything other than God to that level of obsession in your life is going to be fundamentally destructive to the soul. We may not agree on who God is, but we should probably be able to agree that romance isn't God.

But perhaps the whole divine marriage thing of the Mormons, and the elevation of humanity to divinity in the after life is part of all this. So I could see how you could allow Bella and Edward's romance to be seen as some kind of representation of true humanity's realisation. After all it was the romance of father God and mother God who made the world and birthed us. But I digress.

Aside from Bella and Edward's mess, there's a scene in the film where Bella meets the fiancée of the head werewolf. She's had half her face ripped off by her fiancée in a snap fit of rage. And there she is, the first time we meet her, serving muffins to her man's equally dangerous friends. And when he comes home, they give each other a kiss and continue as if nothing is wrong. And this should be a cause for concern in the film. But it's not. No one thinks to mention that perhaps this girl should get out of the relationship. Their not even married and the guy has torn half her face off, and they just go on as if his fit of rage just comes with the territory of being engaged to a werewolf.

The only time the issue is addressed is when Jacob says he can't hang out with Bella any more because he might do the same to her. But then he hangs around anyway because he just can't stay away from her and he's selfish. And she keeps wanting him close anyway because he's her best friend. So we overlook the potential for incredible violence being perpetrated against these women if it's for the sake of relationship.

It's all just so terribly sick. And I think I react so strongly to it because it's so popular and so obsessed over by so many women and girls. It's just sending so many bad messages. If this is what girls are obsessing over, what will they take with them into their future relationships?

All that said though, I'm not going to go on a crusade to rid the world of Twilight. And if it gives us an opportunity to assess how healthy relationship should be done, then I'll take it. So maybe we should just look for those openings, to somehow point out that finding your Jacob or your Edward isn't actually going to be all it's cracked up to be and hopefully in turn, we can help people to see who might be better at protecting and selflessly loving these women who want good love so much.

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