Saturday, November 21, 2009

Importance of the Director: New Moon

Oh. Hello, Jacob!

This weekend, for those of you living under a rock, one of the most anticipated films of the year has been released. New Moon is the second installment of Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series. Of course, you all know that I am basically... well, knowledgeable about the series at least.

Like the last film, I have been keeping tabs on whatever is released about New Moon. The new trailers, stills, interviews and anything that I could get my grubby hands on, I viewed and notice a lot of differences about what to expect. The major one being: This movie actually looked good.

Considering the clips and material that I got when Twilight was being worked on, I could tell that there were going to be some major differences between to the two directors, Catherine Hardwick and Chris Weitz. Everything from location to lighting to feel, to effects, wardrobe... You could definitely tell that Weitz had more money to spend than Hardwick. But also that he had a different vision.

Hardwick tried to make Twilight artsy and edgy and...weird. The added lines, "Hang on tight, Spider Monkey," the wanting to put Edward with "romantic, long flowing locks" and the strange angles of the camera all really hurt the film. We watched it last night in prepping for today's feature, and everything about the movie was terrible. We literally ripped it apart from beginning to end. I won't go on with everything, but the general consensus was that Hardwick did not push the actors to be the best that they could be. They are all pretty young, inexperienced and definitely not A-listers in the Hollywood scene. In fact, after watching Twilight, I was fairly certain that none of them actually COULD act. There were lines in the script that were so out of character that make me want to hurl. There are several mistakes (see Bella's oxygen in the hospital scene) that should have easily been fixed. I imagine a scene wrapping and Hardwick going, "That was incredible! Wonderful!" While all the actors and set people were like, "Really?" And then they shrug their shoulders and move on, when they should have probably done another take. The list goes on and on. Hardwick was trying too hard to make it something that it's not. On top of that, she just wasn't staying true to the book.

Fast forward to Chris Weitz. Yes, he had more money. And the bigger budget allowed for better effects (thank goodness, or the wolves would have been terrible) and enough make-up that ears and necks and other body parts actually got covered, instead of just putting stage make-up on their faces; and other things that I listed above. Which is great, and really added to the film. But holy cow! That's not the only difference. The movie IS the book. The discrepancies are few, and those that are there were necessary in order to be translated on film, or barely noticed. The actors - they can act. Really? You don't believe me? Well, I'm not surprised by your lack of faith. But they certainly weren't as terrible in this film as they were in Twilight. And Kristen Stewart wasn't nearly as annoying. I just can't describe the difference! It was so incredible. I'm not going to mention Taylor Lautner's 30lbs of muscle. Why? Because you saw the picture already. Watching THAT for two hours was no burden. Despite the differences, Weitz was able to tie in the first movie so that the series flows. He uses clips from the last film as flashbacks, which was surprising but worked. Which was also surprising. I loved the relationships between the characters, and the actual dialogue instead of just staring at each other. I was really just, pleased with the way this film turned out.

When the film ended, Becca turned to me and asked when we were going to see it again. I would say that that meant it was a high compliment, but I'm fairly certain we said that about Twilight. Of course, the difference is that now neither of us ever has to watch Twilight again because New Moon is so dang good. Which is the biggest difference of all. When we went into Twilight, we had fairly low expectations and therefore weren't disappointed, but we weren't excited either. We didn't love the movie, but we didn't hate it. Now, I hate it. Because New Moon is what Twilight should have been. I wish Chris Weitz would take on redoing Twilight really quick. Keep the low budget, but just make it more like the book and less artsy. Push the actors to give their best - or at least to do better!

Eclipse is set to be released in June. It has a different director, and I am a little worried about his being able to stay true to the book. He has already said that he wanted it to be darker and more violent. Plus, with the actress that plays Victoria being changed from Rachel Lefervre to Bryce Dallas Howard and who knows what else? From my experience, it is the director that makes these movies work. And I hope that David Slade is up to the task.

But - New Moon is good. And that is all I'm saying.

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