The news is: the movie of New Moon, the second installment of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight Saga, doesn’t suck—in the vulgar, colloquial, non-vampire sense of the word—although all the signs were certainly there.
First, the book of New Moon is terrible: nearly 600 pages of pedestrian prose, glacially paced, padded to excruciating lengths not with fluff, but with damp, insipid, indigestible literary sawdust. (Don’t any of the big publishers employ decent editors? I am not asking for Victor Hugo every time I pick up a work of popular fiction, but could we at least have Stephen King?) Worst of all, the most compelling character, Edward Cullen was absent throughout much of the book. The only thing that got me to pick the book back up after flinging it down several times in dismay was the hope that finally the romance of Bella Swan and her vampire lover Edward Cullen would resume.
Second, Catherine Hardwicke, the superb director of the first Twilight movie, was replaced by Chris Weitz, and the previews of the movie were not promising. Frankly they are as flat and dull as the novel.
But I have to hand it to Weitz and scriptwriter Melissa Rosenberg: they managed to extract a compelling two hour movie from the sprawling mess of the novel. New Moon is not as good as Twilight, but it is a worthy successor and a bridge to the final two novels/films, which promise much more. The momentum has not been lost.
Part of what makes New Moon work is simply the lingering magic of the first film. We were all glad to see the familiar characters and settings again.
Beyond that, Weitz manages to condense vast boring tracts of the novel into tightly paced, compelling scenes, many of them wordless. The literary sawdust has been replaced with visual poetry—and light comedy.
But the best thing about New Moon is the performance of Taylor Lautner as Jacob Black. Although in the book, Jacob seems merely a distraction and digression from the main plot, Taylor Lautner’s performance made this movie his own. Amazingly, when he was on the screen, we did not miss Edward Cullen. Lautner is a fine, sensitive actor, with a magnificent physique, imposing stage presence, and genuine animal magnetism (which comes in handy for playing a werewolf).
(Guys: I saw this movie with an audience that was 90 percent white, 80 percent under 30, and 80 percent female, and I can tell you if you don’t already know: women go for muscles. They might say something different, but their gasps, sighs, and flutters told a whole different story.)
My two main criticisms of this movie are that the computer animated werewolves look fake, and the Cullens mostly look terrible. In the first film, they are lighted and made up to seem pale but beautiful and strong, like marble statues. In New Moon, they look like corpses who have just awakened from a decades-long nap, with the bad hair one would expect.
Now, as a white racialist, what is my take on this movie? In my review of Twilight, I emphasized that I liked three aspects of that movie.
First, even though the movie added in a number of non-white bit characters, it largely follows the book in underscoring the beauty of white people. New Moon undermines this, by making the Cullens look unappealing and by placing the spotlight on Jacob Black and his fellow young American Indians, who are portrayed by exceptionally handsome, muscular, and fit actors. By the way, judging from the biographies of the actors as well as their looks, all of them seem to have some white ancestry, despite their coppery complexions, which gives them longer, handsomer faces rather than typically round, ugly Amerindian faces.
Although there is a deep friendship—and the seeds of romance—between Jacob and Bella, in the end she returns to Edward. However, the movie can only promote miscegenation through its portrayal of an unusually handsome and gallant non-white male. White girls considering such dalliances in the real world need to realize that race-mixing destroys all races that take part in it. They also need to look at statistics on non-white tendencies towards infecting white women with STDs; raping them; and abandoning, abusing, and murdering them and their children.
Second, I liked how Twilight portrayed Bella Swan and Edward Cullen as exceptionally mature, cultured, and well-mannered young people—without implying that these qualities in any way detract from them being fun-loving and sexy. New Moon does nothing to undermine this, but it does nothing to add to it either.
Third, Twilight emphasizes traditional sex roles. Edward Cullen and Jacob Black are not today’s silly, weak, effeminate, non-threatening males. They are strong, masculine, gallant, heroic, and a little dangerous. Bella Swan is no ass-kicking, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. She is physically weaker than Edward and Jacob and attracted to their strength—including the dangers that come with it—and grateful for their protection. (Bella requires a lot of rescuing.) New Moon reinforces this aspect of the story, with Jacob and his wolf pack taking on the role of rescuers.
Yet Bella is in full possession of her real strength as a woman, which makes both men willing to sacrifice themselves to protect her. They do not want to live without her, but they both break off their relationships with her, because they fear that their supernatural strength threatens her well-being. Both come to learn, however, that Bella is safer with them than without them.
When Edward thinks that Bella is dead and seeks to end his life, Bella takes on the role of the rescuer, appearing in the nick of time to save his life, not through strength, but simply because she is the one who makes his life complete.
Echoing my review of Twilight: in spite of their supernatural powers, Edward Cullen and Jacob Black are what in decades past were known simply as red-blooded males. Because of the sickness of our society, such men today can appear on the screen only in the guise of monsters. But because of the strength of nature, women find the monsters irresistible nonetheless.
White people should see New Moon, but the parents of young girls need to warn them about the consequences of miscegenation in the real world.