Screen Jeers: ‘Twilight’ and ‘New Moon’

Caryn: With “Twilight: Breaking Dawn — Part 2” coming out in theaters soon, we thought we’d dive into the abysmal wreck of a franchise and remind everyone why they should not spend their money to see the conclusion.

“Twilight” is not unsuccessful by any means. “New Moon,” which we watched this week, is among the top 50 highest-grossing movies of all time. The Twilight franchise is just below Transformers in the list of highest-grossing franchises. While a lot of people might have gone to see the Twilight films in theaters, that doesn’t mean they’re any good. With bland, awkward acting, poor pacing, cartoonish CGI and themes that champion abusive relationships among teenagers, the films from the Twilight franchise are some of the worst I’ve ever seen.

Dan, how did you feel about “Twilight” and “New Moon” this week?

Dan: This might not be fair, seeing as I am not at all the target demographic for these kinds of movies, but I feel there is nothing in these movies that makes them worthwhile, save for laughing at the stilted acting, horrible dialogue and cheap special effects. (Watching these movies with RiffTrax commentary is the only thing that kept me sane.) The story is as basic as they come, the action might as well not exist, and the message it’s trying to push is insulting at its best and offensive at its worst.

I can wrap up the plot summaries of the first two movies in one paragraph. That is not a good sign for films that both extend past two hours. A teenage girl named Bella moves in with her dad in Oregon and meets a vampire boy named Edward Cullen at high school. After first trying to push away from her, Edward finally decides to pursue a relationship with her, and they fall inexplicably in love. But other vampires want to eat her, so Edward’s family fights off the other vampires. In “New Moon,” Edward leaves Bella for her protection (though he keeps popping up in the ether whenever she’s doing something stupid), which leaves her heartbroken for months, only recovering when she starts a new fling with Jacob, who, it turns out, is part of a werewolf clan. Bella ends up going to Italy (somehow) to save Edward’s life, and when they get back, they’ve got themselves an old-fashioned love triangle.

The vampires and werewolves in these movies should be enough of an adventure to carry the interest of even those who aren’t interested in the hackneyed romance. But the two factions are so uninteresting and their histories so muddled and indecipherable that no one ends up caring. Plus, there’s that whole sparkly in the sunlight thing. It all comes off as dumb and poorly written. And that’s before we delve into the characters themselves and find out one of the worst monsters of all: our “heroine,” Bella.

Caryn: I know you dislike Bella, but I almost feel sorry for her. She’d have a better grasp of what to do with her life if she could actually glean at least the tiniest fragment of relationship advice from a parental figure, but both of them are absent and/or clueless. By the end of “New Moon,” though, she does set herself up to lead Jacob on.

Overall, the characters are bland, bland, bland. The line delivery is halting and awkward. Bella has no interesting hobbies, and her main focus in life seems to be to fawn over whatever guys will give her the time of day. She was equally colorless in the books, and her single-minded monologues in the form of monotonous voice-overs got on my nerves more than once.

One redeeming thing about the movies is the soundtracks. The music itself is really cool. Alexandre Desplat composed the instrumental score for “New Moon,” but there’s also a mix of indie, euro-pop and rock strung throughout the scenes. Even though I love to make fun of Lykke Li’s “Possibility,” which plays during Bella’s moping montage in the middle of “New Moon,” you can’t argue that the musical selections themselves aren’t that bad. It’s just a shame they have to be associated with such a poor movie.

You can see Edward lurking in the background, proving once again that stalking girls is the most effective way to get to know them. Photo by Kimberley French, courtesy Summit Entertainment.

Dan: It’s also a shame that now whenever I hear “Supermassive Black Hole,” I inexorably think of goofy vampire baseball. I have a feeling we could argue for hours about Bella’s dad, because I think he’s the closest thing these movies have to a decent character. It definitely isn’t the two love interests, an emotionally abusive, blood-sucking emo boy and a hot-tempered diva who rips his shirt off at every opportunity.

The mere idea that a hundred-year-old immortal would be so enamored with a girl with no personality is mind-boggling enough. But then to see how willing they are to either throw away their old lives or, in Bella’s case, literally die to be together forever after knowing each other for no more than two months cheapens whatever romance comes afterward. That is not healthy, and seeing Bella sit in her room staring out the window as months go by with Edward gone isn’t sad; it’s infuriating. Girl, you somehow came to a school in which everybody is instantly nice to you and wants to include you in all their activities. They might be vapid idiots, but at least they treat you like a human being and try to be your friend. Choosing to shut yourself away from the world is not something that should be promoted, which is exactly what this movie is doing because she ends up getting exactly what she wanted in the end! Got that, audience? Mope around in misery for an entire season and all your dreams will come true!

But we’ve only just begun with these atrocities. These two movies were bad, but they were mostly just dumb teenage angst and silly writing. Next week, we tackle “Eclipse” and “Breaking Dawn — Part 1,” where we will be lambasted with horrible themes, offensive blanket statements and degrading subtexts.

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