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New Moon (2009)

Summit Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 3/20/2010

All Ratings out of

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 3/22/2010

Ask any parent and they'll tell you that there's nothing more frustrating than having a child claim that they don't like a food before they've even tried it. We accuse them of being stubborn and lecture on how you can't judge something until you've tried it. But, despite the superior attitude which we take in those moments, we're all guilty of doing this. I must admit that I went into New Moon with a similar outlook. I'd seen Twilight, and I must admit, I found it to be silly for lack of a better word. And of course, no movie could live up to the hype which surrounded that film. The excitement continued with New Moon. Would it turn out to be another tween-fueled mess, or would there be some redeeming qualities this time.

As you'll recall, Twilight introduced us to Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart), the morose teenage girl who was forced to move to Forks, Washington to live with her father (Billy Burke). Once there, she quickly learned that a family of vampires lived in-town. Bella falls in love with vamp Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson), and a series of adventures forms a bond between them. As New Moon opens, Bella is in her senior year of high school and it's her birthday. She and Edward seem happy together, but Bella can't stop thinking about the fact that she'll age while Edward stays the same. She begs Edward to make her a vampire, but he refuses. Much to her surprise, Edward then announces that the Cullen family is leaving town and that he doesn't want Bella to accompany them. Bella is devastated by this news and she spends her days staring out the window and her nights screaming. (?) She eventually goes back to school and is actually happy when her old friend Jacob (Taylor Lautner) stops by to see her. They begin to spend a lot of time together, but Bella can't forget about Edward, most likely due to the fact that she seems him whenever she engages in risky behavior. Soon, Bella's world will reach a new crossroads when she learns Jacob's dark secret and learns that she has to save Edward's life.

I don't know about you, but my immediate question after watching New Moon was, "Was that better or worse than Twilight?" This may sound odd, but I can't say if New Moon was better, but I can say that I enjoyed it more. When I watched Twilight, I knew very little about it. Going into New Moon, I was better prepared for what I consider to be the sillier aspects of the story. I don't want to say that I had lowered expectations for the movie, but I watched it with the knowledge that I'm not the film's target audience. The movie also gets a boost by the presence of Director Chris Weitz. He has experience on a big-budget special effects film, The Golden Compass (I didn't say that it was a good movie, I simply said that he had experience), and he's made a satisfying drama as well (About a Boy). He keeps things going at a nice pace, and while I balked at the film's two-hour plus running time, it never felt overly long.

If you're like me and never really got into Edward's story, Jacob does offer a good alternative. (No, I'm not getting into the whole Team Edward vs. Team Jacob thing.) While I'm partial to bi-ped werewolves, the werewolf effects here are pretty good, and I have to admit, the scenes in which the werewolves fought one another or other creatures were pretty cool. I'm sure that many were disappointed by the fact that Edward is absent from the middle part of the film, but that was fine by me. The fact that Jacob's power is organic is more interesting and his lack of constant brooding makes him more tolerable, but again, the movie isn't aimed at me. Still, I kept waiting for Bella to say, "Denim cut-offs aren't a good look for you."

Despite these positive aspects, the main problem which I had with Twilight (besides the silliness) was only magnified in New Moon. That problem: Kristen Stewart. I mean this in the nicest way possible -- she has no range as an actress. Her idea of acting is rapidly shaking her head and blinking. I haven't read the Twilight books, so I don't know what Bella is like there, but her constant flat affect in the films is tiresome. Although Bella is supposed to be mature beyond her years, she's still a teenaged girl. But, Stewart never exhibits any of the exuberance which is simply inherit in teenagers. In New Moon, Bella actually wants to die, so, in theory, she should be fearless. Yet, when faced with danger, she just gasps a lot and covers her mouth in fear. Based on all of this, one can't help but wonder why Bella is the girl which everyone in town loves. There have got to be girls with more appeal than her, even in the small town of Forks. One would assume that the biggest challenge for the director's taking up the reins of the Twilight sequels would be living up to hype of the franchise, but in actuality, it's the burden of being stuck with Stewart in the lead role.

In theory, a movie in which vampires and werewolves battle not only for territory, but for the love of a girl should be awesome. But, as New Moon aimed at tween girls, we get a sappy, not very scary version of that story. The movie is an improvement over the first film, but plotholes (a bunch of dead people in the forest, no big deal) and melodrama (the scenes in which Bella lies in bed and screams are simply ludicrous) keep it from being completely enjoyable. If the movies continue to improve a little bit each time, maybe I'll like Breaking Dawn when it arrives.

New Moon takes off its shirt whenever it can on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Summit Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 30 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing only slight grain at times and no defects from the source material. The picture is nicely balanced, as the dark photography looks very good, but the image is never too dark. The black tones are very rich and true, causing the colors to really stand out. The image shows a very nice depth and some the shots of Bella standing in an open field exhibit nice separation of objects in the foreground and background. Textures reveal a nice level of detail. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 4.3 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The stereo effects are good and show a nice amount of detail. The surround sound effects, most notably those in the woods, help to give the viewer a sense of from where the action is coming. However, it's not until the werewolves arrive that the track really kicks in and we get some impressive subwoofer effects from their growling.

The New Moon Blu-ray contains an assortment of extras. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY which features Dirctor Chris Weitz and Editor Peter Lambert. "The Journey Continues" (65 minutes) is a 6-part documentary which explores the making of New Moon and the entire world of those involved in the movie. It begins with the cast talking about the reaction to Twilight. From there, the doc goes into the making of New Moon, from the introduction of a new director, to the actual shooting of the film, to the visual effects, to the final steps in prepping the film for release. The piece contains ample interviews with cast and crew members and a nice amount of on-set footage. While most of this is pretty standard, there are some nice frank comments about what it's like to be a part of a phenomenon. The Disc contains three MUSIC VIDEOS; "Meet Me on the Equinox" by Death Cab for Cutie; "Satellite Heart" by Anya Marina; and "Spotlight" by Mutemath. We don't get a video by Muse, but there is 90-seconds of them rehearsing "I Belong to You". Why?

Review Copyright 2010 by Mike Long