I did not see the first "Twilight" in the theater. I wasn't actively against it, but I also recognized early on that it most likely was not made for me. And I don't operate under the illusion that all films must please me in order to justify their existence. I did eventually catch up with it, and I thought it was an entirely harmless teen romance/angst film that worked primarily because there was a tangible tension between the two leads. I thought it was visually dull with some laughable imagery, but again... harmless. I didn't weigh in on it because I didn't feel strongly enough about it one way or another, and I didn't see it in a timely enough manner for my opinion to make any difference to anyone.
Over this first year at HitFix, I've watched the way Greg Ellwood has done his best to serve the "Twilight" community, one of many web writers who has absolutely treated that crowd with respect and who goes out of his way to gather every tidbit of information that he can pass along to them. Yes, it means traffic for the site, but in watching his engagements with them and in dealing with them in passing at Comic-Con or in e-mail or on the site or on Twitter, I've always found them to be polite and friendly and enthusiastic in all the best ways. Bitter fanboys can rail about the "Twilight" fans all they want, but I'll take a bunch of screaming girls who just want to like what they like over a bunch of miserable boys who hate everything and nitpick the movies that were made expressly to service their whims and fetishes. At least the screaming girls are having fun.
So if you're a "Twilight" fan and you already know you're going to go see "New Moon" this weekend 76 times, then don't bother reading the rest of this review. You know more about the characters and what you like about this series than I'll ever know, and my take on things probably isn't going to please you. I'll give the series another shot next year, and we'll talk again then.
If you're like me, though, someone looking in at this phenomenon from the outside, then read on, because I definitely had a reaction to the film tonight. Probably not the one the filmmakers were hoping for, but a reaction nonetheless.
"The Twilight Saga: New Moon," from the title down to the closing credits, personifies the major problem with franchise filmmaking these days, and it's the difference between the ones that get it right and the ones that get it wrong.
"The Twilight Saga: New Moon" plays like a 130 minute trailer for a movie called "The Twilight Saga: New Moon".
When franchise filmmaking works, it works because it's a TV episode that makes us want to see what happens next. It works because of energy and chemistry and a sort of connection with the audience. It's certainly not easy. The first two "Harry Potter" movies are solid, sturdy, and sort of boring. They're not bad films, but they're certainly not great films. They did, however, feel like films. They were long, they rambled, but there was always a sense that the films had to be truly grand. When you see the movie, it's the fulfillment of a promise that the trailer makes, and a movie like this one just plays like a trailer all the way through. It's all promise, all build-up, all tease, and because of how clumsy the world-building is, it's not a promise I particularly care to see fulfilled. Break the promise. Fine by me.