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MOVIE INFO

Director:
Chris Weitz
Cast:
Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Billy Burke, Ashley Greene, Anna Kendrick, Christian Serratos, Michael Welch
Writing Credits:
Melissa Rosenberg, Stephenie Meyer (novel)

Tagline:
The Next Chapter Begins.

Synopsis:
In the second chapter of Stephenie Meyer’s best-selling Twilight series, the romance between mortal Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) and vampire Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) grows more intense as ancient secrets threaten to destroy them. When Edward leaves in an effort to keep Bella safe, she tests fate in increasingly reckless ways in order to glimpse her love once more. But when she’s saved from the brink by her friend, Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner), Bella will uncover mysteries of the supernatural world that will put her in more peril than ever before.

Box Office:
Budget
$50 million.
Opening Weekend
$142.839 million on -unknown- screens.
Domestic Gross
$296.301 million.

MPAA:
Rated PG-13

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 2.40:1/16x9
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
English Dolby Surround 2.0
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
English
Spanish

Runtime: 130 min.
Price: $32.99
Release Date: 3/20/2010

Bonus:
DVD One:
• Audio Commentary with Director Chris Weitz and Editor Peter Lambert
• Previews
DVD Two:
• “The Journey Continues” Six-Part Documentary
• Music Videos


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EQUIPMENT
Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


The Twilight Saga: New Moon (Special Edition) (2009)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (March 16, 2010)

Back when Titanic became a huge hit, naysayers claimed it earned most of its money due to young girls who went to see Leonardo DiCaprio again and again. This was utter nonsense; yes, that was a significant portion of the film’s audience, but no movie makes $600 million due to any one demographic.

2009’s New Moon may demonstrate how much impact one demographic can exert. The sequel to 2008’s Twilight, Moon crushed at the box office its opening weekend but faded fast – and it made the vast majority of its money via a young(ish) female audience. It ended up with $296 million in the US, and I’m guessing that’s about as far as a movie that largely appeals to a single audience can go.

New Moon picks up on Bella Swan’s (Kristen Stewart) eighteenth birthday. She continues to date vampire Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) but he soon tells her that his family needs to leave town and he can’t be with her anymore.

This sends Bella into a deep depression, but she eventually emerges from it when she embraces a friendship with old pal Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner). The two hang out a lot and Jacob aspires to more than friendship. Bella rebuffs his hopes for a romantic relationship, and Jacob eventually disappears from her life as well. As the film progresses, we learn why Jacob does this, his own secret, and other supernatural nuttiness.

Man, that Bella sure can pick ‘em! First she dates a vampire, then she hangs out with a werewolf. Who’ll she date in the third movie, the Creature from the Black Lagoon?

Twilight came as a pleasant surprise to me. I expected cheesy teen romance… and that’s pretty much what I got, but I thought the film delivered a more compelling take on the subject that I anticipated. The Edward/Bella relationship was the best part, as that side of things developed in an intriguing manner.

That fails to occur here, unfortunately. I liked the first film’s view of teen life, and Bella’s time with the Cullens was engaging. The flick’s first act was its best, as the exposition and set-up delivered interesting material.

Since the prior movie set up all the characters and situations, Moon jumps right into the action – figuratively, that is. In reality, not a whole lot happens. Edward splits, Bella mopes, then she builds bikes with new hottie Jacob. While I thought Twilight’s action scenes seemed perfunctory, in retrospect I may’ve underestimated them. Moon doles out fewer sequences of that sort, especially during the almost entirely excitement-free first half.

And that’s a mistake. Twilight wasn’t exactly happy/peppy, but it seems like a barrel of laughs compared to this mopefest. In the prior flick, I thought Bella offered a good depiction of a teenage girl in love, but here, she becomes too one-dimensional. Yeah, she was always borderline kooky – her obsession with Edward kind of spooked me – but here she comes across as even more disturbed. The girl spends months in a deep depression and no one thinks maybe she should get some counseling?

All she does in New Moon is sulk and look despondent. Granted, she was never the most effervescent personality, but the emphasis on her depression makes her even more monotonous, and the film goes with it.

Which is where some well-timed action could’ve helped it during that first half. Without anything to dispel the ennui, the movie becomes awfully tedious, and it never quite recovers, even when the tale turns more action-oriented in its second half.

Maybe the change in directors hurt Moon. Catherine Hardwicke fails to return for the sequel, and Chris Weitz takes her place. Although he’s branched into other genres over the last decade, Weitz remains best known as the co-director of American Pie. His prior attempt at an action/fantasy film came with The Golden Compass, and that wasn’t exactly a success, critically or commercially. Moon snares him a financial hit, though I think a drunk chimp could’ve run this show and it still would’ve made $200 million.

I can’t say for certain Weitz hurts Moon, as the story lacks the same inherent momentum found in its predecessor, but it’s possible – and maybe likely – that Hardwicke’s female perspective helped her better develop Bella and the romantic side. While I liked the romance and character aspects of Twilight, they don’t work here.

Because of that, the whole movie becomes slow and draggy. The heavy presence of Jacob – and the de-emphasis on Edward – hurts the flick as well. Lautner looks super-buff, but he’s a dull screen presence, and he shows little to no chemistry with Stewart. She and the much more interesting Pattinson developed a good connection, so the fact they spend so little time together saps much of the film’s energy. Jacob is a hunky bore.

Even a third act appearance from the engaging Michael Sheen and additional can’t rescue New Moon from its consistent lack of drama. Maybe the third film will redeem the saga, but chapter two delivers a sleepy dud.


The DVD Grades: Picture B-/ Audio B/ Bonus B

New Moon appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Should you expect the transfer of New Moon to top that of Twilight? No, you shouldn’t; the sequel’s image was a virtual carbon copy of its predecessor.

Once again, I found problems with edge enhancement and artifacts. I noticed moderate haloes at times, and some light mosquito noise also marred the presentation. Shimmering and jaggies were less of a concern this time, but sharpness remained erratic. While most of the movie appeared reasonably concise and accurate, occasional instances of softness occurred, especially in wider shots; that’s when the haloes became most noticeable and definition sagged. Source flaws remained absent.

No one expects a vampire movie to boast a vibrant palette, and when that flick comes set in the gloomy, rainy Pacific Northwest, the potential for colorful material takes an even greater dip. The palette differed from Twilight in that it preferred an earthy brown to the first movie’s bluish tone, but both remained pretty monochromatic. Within those parameters, the hues looked appropriate. Blacks were dark and tight, while shadows showed good clarity. Overall, this was an erratic presentation that deserved a “B-“; I nearly knocked it down to a “C+”, but enough positives occurred to earn the higher grade.

History also repeated when I greeted the film’s Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. As with Twilight, the audio seemed positive, though not especially ambitious. Only a smattering of action sequences opened up the piece in a moderate way. Werewolf attacks became the most dynamic, and a few other fights added some pizzazz. These were exceptions to the rule, though, as most of the movie stayed with atmospheric elements. Music showed solid stereo imaging, though, and provided good reinforcement from the rear speakers.

Audio quality always satisfied. Music was lively and full, with good dimensionality. Effects came across as accurate and tight; they boasted nice punch when appropriate. Speech also appeared crisp and well-defined. No edginess or other issues marred the presentation. While I didn’t think there was enough razzle-dazzle on display to merit a grade above a “B”, I couldn’t complain about the results.

We find a good array of extras across this two-disc set. On DVD One, we open with an audio commentary from director Chris Weitz and editor Peter Lambert. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific look at story and adaptation issues, cast, characters and performances, sets and locations, effects and stunts, camerawork and music, editing, and other production tidbits.

Though I think Weitz made a dull movie, he provides a lively commentary. Though separated by an ocean, he and Lambert interact well, and they keep the action moving well most of the time. Weitz doesn’t take the whole process too seriously, so he’s willing to keep the tone light. That makes this a satisfying and informative piece.

A few ads open DVD One. We get clips for Remember Me, Letters to Juliet, Band Slam, Astro Boy and Twilight in Forks: The Saga of the Real Town.

Over on DVD Two, the big attraction comes from The Journey Continues. The documentary lasts one hour, five minutes, 20 seconds and provides notes from Weitz, Lambert, author Stephanie Meyer, costume designer Tish Monaghan, production designer David Brisbin, stunt doubles Laura Lee Connelly and Crystal Dalman, stunt rigger Dustin Brooks, stunt coordinator JJ Makaro, Tippet Studio VFX Matt Jacobs, assistant director Iris Torres, producer Wyck Godfrey, special effects best boy David Benediktsen, visual effects supervisor Susan MacLeod, compositor Sigurjon Gardarsson, 3D animator Jeff Tetzlaff, art director Nate Fredenburg, visual effects supervisor Phil Tippett, animation supervisor Paul Gibbons, character supervisor Stephen Uterfranz, composer Alexandre Desplat, and actors Kristen Stewart, Taylor Lautner, Robert Pattinson, Michael Sheen, Jamie Campbell Bower, Rachelle Lefevre, Bronson Pelletier, Edi Gathegi, Peter Facinelli, Ashley Greene, Kellan Lutz, Jackson Rathbone, Justin Chon, Anna Kendrick, Christopher Heyerdall, and Michael Welch.

“Continues” looks at the success of the first film and the reunion of the major players. From there we go into Weitz’s impact on the production, costumes and set design, stunts and action, location and performance topics, various effects, editing, score and audio. The first two chapters of “Continues” offer fluffy nothingness, but the documentary improves when we get to costume and production design. After that, we get a better focus on the production and connected elements, so we get a fair amount of good info. The tone remains rather overblown and hyperbolic, but “Continues” still delivers a reasonably informative program.

The disc also includes four music videos. We find clips for “Meet Me on the Equinox” by Death Cab for Cutie, “Satellite Heart” by Anya Marina, and “Spotlight” by Mutemath. We also see rehearsal footage “I Belong to You” by Muse. “Equinox” and “Heart” are dull videos that follow the usual “artist lipsynch/movie clip” format. The former is a decent song, but Marina is whiny and cloying.

Technically “Spotlight” is just band lip-synch footage, but the video presents the performance in an unusual way. The band rides around in a van and plays at super-speed via time-lapse photography. This gives the old format a nice twist. The Muse footage is brief – only 90 seconds – and dull, as it just shows a basic runthrough.

I liked Twilight and figured New Moon would continue the story in a positive way. Unfortunately, it seems too long and too slow, as it never becomes engaging or dramatic. The DVD provides decent to good picture and audio along with a few tasty supplements. Nothing I say here will keep Twihards from their date with Bella, Edward and Jacob, but I think the film disappoints after the relative pleasures of the first flick.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2.4615 Stars Number of Votes: 13
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