I have to imagine that it was a monumental task for director Chris Weitz to bring the fabled second book of the Twilight Saga to the big screen.
The book is the most cerebral of the series and deals with a teenage girl’s inner anguish. Her boyfriend dumps her, she contemplates suicide and her one salvation is her best friend who is going through a transformation all his own. The book goes on for pages and pages detailing how the teenage girl comes apart inside.
That is what the story of the second novel is in a nutshell. Schoolgirl Bella Swann (Kristen Stewart) is totally in love with vampire Edward Cullen (Robert Pattison) and on her 18th birthday she is asked to come to Edward’s house for her party. Bella is surprised by all her wonderful presents but when she pricks her finger and one of the vamps let loose a monumental event in Bella’s life unfolds, Edward dumps her.
Edward disappears and Bella does whatever she can to hold on to his memory including being a adrenaline junkie in hopes that if she is in danger her hero will return. He does not and Bella turns to her best friend Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner). Jacob does have problems of his own as well as his family’s heritage is coming, that of being a werewolf.
What is amazing about the film is that Weitz gives everything in the book equal airtime. In any other insecure directors hands, the film would have been focused solely on Jacob’s transformation and the coming of the Volturi (an elite vampire class). This film is exactly what I remember the book was. It is amazing.
Plus Weitz is able to improve on what Catherine Hardwicke did in the original film. The movie hardly touches on what the first film was about or give us a recap. In that case it is a true sequel. But gone are the caky white clown vampire makeup, so many of the stiff performances, and you really feel the chemistry between all the characters especially Bella and Edward.
I enjoyed how Weitz dealt with the Edward visions. They were so how I imagined them in the book. I also enjoyed the wolf transformations. I have always disagreed with the quick “poofy” transformations for werewolves (ie: Blood & Chocolate) but here Weitz does them in a way that they are magical but also doesn’t abandon what it is to “wolf out”. The wolves are handled here like how Weitz handled the polar bears in The Golden Compass and it works.
My only complaints about the film was the one scene where Bella is found in the woods and a half-naked wolf guy carries her out of the woods to 20 on-lookers. He’s half-naked carrying a teenage girl and no one says anything? I mean there should have been at least one line of reason or have him leave her and dash off. Not for a minute does one person stop and question it.
I also have to say I loved, loved Ashley Greene as Alice Cullen! She was my favorite part of this movie. She was the comedic centre and it was priceless.
I also found Kristen Stewart quite good in this one. Ever since she started acting in Panic Room, she’s always had a way of delivering dialogue and a performance where there is a lot more going on in her than we give her credit for and well this part of Bella’s evolution was tailored made for her. I also have to commend Taylor Lautner, he was so wooden and out of place in the first film the studio wanted to fire the kid. But he has evolved both physically and in acting range in this film. He’s like night and day.
If the series continues along what Weitz has set out for it with this second film then these films are sure to delight fans.
3.5 out of 5
So Says the Soothsayer