And now, Scary-Crayon reviews... the twilight saga: new moon by: Wes

I've mentioned previously that I wasn't all that into the Twilight series. I was quite fond of the Alice Cullen figure by NECA (the Edward Cullen figure is okay too; I just don't think Robert Pattinson is anywhere near as attractive as Ashley Greene), but the first movie struck me as goofy and derivative. Nevertheless, I thought the trailer for The Twilight Saga: New Moon was intriguing enough to warrant seeing the film once it came out on DVD -- and, well, you can now consider me a Twilight convert. I expected the movie to feature more derivative teen girl/vampire romance with a splash of derivative teen girl/vampire/werewolf love triangle action, but I didn't expect it to be the best vampire movie I've ever had the pleasure of viewing.

It's not emo -- it's REAL.

Like all great vampire media, New Moon excels in the decidedly artful way it uses vampires and supernatural phenomena as metaphors for common life experiences. Just as "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" explored teenage attitudes towards sex, the loss of a loved one, the growing pressures of adulthood, and other ideas and occurrences with a preternatural twist, Bella's reaction to Edward's absence faithfully depicts the way that many teenage girls respond when their boyfriends break up with them or are shipped off to juvenile detention centers for being a little too bad. We might think that Bella is being a whiny, obsessive little nutjob when she spends months staring out her window and sends lengthy e-mails to an address that no longer exists on a daily basis and wakes up screaming in the middle of the night, but this is indeed how many young girls behave! Kudos to the makers of New Moon for choosing to depict the film's heroine in a realistic manner instead of imbuing her with qualities that might have made the movie seem more ridiculous to the average viewer. This segment also accurately depicts the way that many parents ignore the suffering of their children -- the fact that Bella is forced to pour her heart out into messages to the great and terrible Mailer Daemon shows that Bella's father is clearly too insensitive to even buy her a diary.

"Tee-hee, you're so nice! Don't fucking touch me."

But then, after months and months and months of moping, Bella finally begins to get over her sadness when she starts to hit it off with another guy -- again, just like real life! Sure, a more inspiring movie might have shown Bella developing an inner strength that allowed her to be her own person, but how often does that really happen? For that matter, how often should that happen? Everyone knows that women are little more than insecure creatures that only thrive in the presence of male affection, and New Moon is to be applauded for depicting its heroine in this realistic manner. It's even more impressive when you consider Bella's treatment of Jacob: after he bends over backwards trying to earn her affection and even saves her life several times, she ditches him in a heartbeat and traipses off to Italy to stop the asshole who abandoned her from glittering in front of a bunch of people. Any guy who's tried to court a woman only to have her spurn his advances in favor of some jerk whose only gifts to her are harsh words and pregnancy scares knows just how accurately this depicts a woman's response to kindness.

YARRRRGH GIMMEH BLUD

Did I mention how brilliantly the film depicts its vampires? These vampires are hundreds of years old and go apeshit if a human even gets a papercut around them (although this has to be the bloodiest papercut I've ever seen), yet they attend a normal school where the potential for these kinds of accidents is quite great. I mean, think of all the paper students handle at school every day! This shows that vampires are truly the perfect predators, since they are able to convincingly adapt to any situation that life -- or the script -- requires. And they sparkle in sunlight! Leave it to a genius author like Stephenie Meyer to improve upon the traditional vampire weaknesses by having her vampires sparkle like disco balls instead of burst into flame. Sure, a vampire who revealed itself in this way would likely inspire awe and admiration instead of fear -- and unless the Twilight novels are popular in Bella's world, I doubt anyone would make the connection between sparkling and immortal drinkers of blood -- but it is nevertheless an excellent weakness because it still shows how just unlike us vampires really are. People do fear difference! That's not to say that New Moon completely ignores the traditions of previous vampire media, though. Its adherence to stock characters -- such as Carlisle, the benevolent, paternal vampire with a deep affection for human life, and the Volturi, aristocratic, art-loving vampires who speak with European accents and slaughter innocents without a care -- is truly appreciated, as it imbues the work with a sense of familiarity and helps to avoid alienating fans of other vampire franchises.

Distressed confusion!

Also, apparently vampires have different superpowers (another more or less traditional undead ability), but they all have limitations that work brilliantly with the story. Alice can see the future, but not if werewolves are involved in the events -- so although Jacob pulls Bella out of the water after she jumps off a cliff, Alice's incomplete vision leads her to conclude that Bella drowned. Edward has the ability to read minds at a distance, but apparently his ability only allows him to ascertain the precise words that someone is saying in his/her head -- so if a person thinks a lie, Edward won't necessarily be able to determine the truth of it. One would think that it would be fairly difficult -- if not impossible -- to think a lie in such a way that a mind reader would be unable to determine its truth, but it works to explain why only Bella can approach Edward as he prepares to reveal himself to people in sunlight (which would be akin to committing suicide, since the vampire overlords would not let this act go unpunished). See, if Alice had gone -- even though she would have reached him more quickly -- Edward would have read in her thoughts that Bella was alive (he thought she was dead and therefore wanted to die too)... and, believing it to be a deception intended to trick him into not revealing himself, would have been even more hellbent on completing the suicidal deed. It makes perfect sense! It makes even more sense when you consider that Edward is unable to read Bella's thoughts (apparently none of the vampires' powers work where Bella is concerned... except Alice's, somehow), yet was able to mentally stalk her and communicate with her psychically when she found herself in dangerous situations.

This is acting at its finest.

And the acting! Kudos to Taylor Lautner, who started the movie as a goofy-looking Hanson reject and ended up a buff werewolf heartthrob. Never mind the wonders of a haircut and exercise and shirtlessness and CGI effects -- that dude acted so hard that the excess hair and clothing and... recorded footage of himself (?) just jumped off of his character to reveal the studly beast within. And let no one ever tell you that Kristen Stewart can't act -- the girl is bloody amazing. Sure, she keeps the same look of distressed confusion on her face for the entire film, but that's only because it's a perfectly acceptable reaction to nearly any event. Boyfriend you thought would be with you 4eva suddenly dumps you and says he's leaving town? Distressed confusion! Murderous vampire confronts you alone in the woods while the ghostly image of your ex-boyfriend attempts to coach you through the interaction? Distressed confusion! People turn into giant wolfbeasts and start fighting in front of you? Distressed confusion! Vampire heartthrob Edward asks you to marry him (in what has to be the most compelling cliffhanger ever, particularly considering the undeniably more dramatic, interesting, and exciting events involving werewolves and developing relationships and snooty vampires that preceded it)? Distressed confusion! Sure, none of that stuff has happened to you (except maybe that first one, and hopefully you had enough sense to stop sending e-mails to the same address after the third one bounced), but think over the events of your day: I'll bet that just about everything that happened to you might have been appropriately met with a look of distressed confusion. Heck, if you'd been able to photograph me at any point during my viewing of New Moon, the resultant image would have revealed... distressed confusion! Only a superior thespian like Kristen Stewart could have mastered such an all-purpose expression.

Go watch this movie NOW.

I could keep writing about how amazing New Moon is for at least another 80,000 words, but you should really just see the film for yourself. It's so amazing that you shouldn't even bother waiting for Netflix to get a copy to you -- order up one of those digital downloads or use your on demand cable service and watch it right now! Or, better yet, get to Best Buy and grab it on DVD. I'm absolutely certain you're going to want a copy of it after you've seen it -- and that you'll want to watch it again and again and again and again and won't at all think that it's a waste of money and wish for your two plus hours back. Vampire films do not get any better than this.

-- Wes --
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