The Twilight Saga: New Moon (PG-13)
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This is the second film in the Twilight Saga. It came out in 2009, but I didn't watch it until 2016, by which time the five-movie franchise had been complete for a few years. I didn't remember a lot of details about the first movie, which I had watched only once, in 2011, so I kind of thought maybe I should rewatch it before watching this, but I didn't. One thing I want to mention is that Bella's father, Charlie, is played by Billy Burke, whom I don't think I knew from anything when I watched the first movie, but while watching this movie, I was sure he looked familiar. And not from the first movie, because there's no way I would have remembered him. After a little while I realized I knew him from Revolution, a TV series that aired a few years after this movie came out, but a few years before I saw this. Oh, and I also wanted to mention that I compared Edward and Bella to Romeo & Juliet in my review of the first movie, but this movie actually draws that comparison, itself.
Anyway, it opens with a dream Bella is having, which I found rather interesting and compelling, in a way. And it neatly explains a plot point that becomes important when she wakes up (and for the rest of the movie), which is that her vampiric boyfriend, Edward, will remain young even when she herself grows old. So she wants him to turn her into a vampire, but he refuses. In any event, it's her birthday (around the start of the school year). She's now 18, and while Edward is nearly a century older than her, in a way he's forever 17. Edward tells her he loves her, but like the next day he tells her he and his family are leaving Forks, and they'll never see each other again. He says he doesn't want to see her again, which is an obvious lie; he really just wants to keep her safe, after an incident involving Jasper. But months pass (which we see in a montage that I felt was neatly done), and Bella can't accept the loss of Edward in her life. She becomes distant from her other friends, and she has nightmares that cause her to scream, which is of course deeply troubling to her father. He thinks maybe she should move to Florida to stay with her mother, but Bella doesn't want to leave Forks.
One night, while she's out with Jessica, she sees a group of bikers, and decides to approach them. She sees a vision of Edward, telling her to turn back, but she doesn't. Miraculously, no harm comes to her, but the experience makes her believe that putting herself in danger will lead to more visions of Edward. So she gets a couple of busted motorcycles from the junkyard, and asks Jacob to help her fix them up. (In this movie, he's 16 years old, and I don't remember being aware that he was younger than Bella. Nor would I guess his age by looking at him.) Anyway, they start spending a lot of time together, and that helps Bella start to feel better, to some extent. It becomes evident that Jacob is interested in more than friendship, though she's not ready for another relationship, and he seems cool with that. And then, suddenly, he wants nothing more to do with her. The reason was obvious to me, because I knew something about him long before I saw the movie, and I was a bit surprised that apparently he himself was unaware of it until now. But I'll get to that in a bit. Anyway, of course it was really hard for Bella to accept the loss of the only friend who'd diminished the pain of losing Edward.
Well, we eventually see a couple of vampires who want to kill Bella. The first is Laurent, who I didn't remember from the first movie. I guess he works for Victoria, whom I only really remember in the sense that when I was watching Under the Dome in 2013, I found that an actress from that show had been in these movies. (Man, I really should rewatch the first movie.) Anyway, Laurent tries to kill Bella, but she's saved by a pack of unusually large wolves. This leads to the revelation that Jacob and certain members of his tribe are werewolves... though not quite like the ones you normally see in monster movies. (I can't help wondering whether the revelation would have surprised me if I hadn't known the truth beforehand. Probably not, but it still might have been interesting to see the movie without that knowledge.) Later, the wolves help protect Bella from Victoria herself. And then... Bella, still in reckless mode, decides to jump off a cliff into the water, as she'd seen some werewolves do (before she knew they were werewolves). Jacob saves her from drowning, but shortly thereafter, Alice returns. (Oh yeah, I should have mentioned that ever since the Cullens left town, Bella had been e-mailing Alice, even though she knew Alice wasn't receiving her e-mails.) But Alice's precognition had shown her Bella cliff diving, which is why she returned to Forks.
And now it's time for me to start a new paragraph. So, Edward thinks Bella is dead. Which leads him to go to Italy to sacrifice himself to a powerful vampire family called the Volturis, since he doesn't want to be alive if Bella is dead. The Volturis would like to make Edward join them, to use his gift of mind-reading, but he forces them to try to kill him. Alice and Bella go to Italy to stop him. The head of the Volturis is a vampire named Aro, who can read people's minds when he touches them. There's also a vampire named Jane (Dakota Fanning), who can apparently inflict pain with just a thought. And um... man, I feel like I'm saying way too much, but I also think there's some important info here. Like, you know in my previous review, I said Edward can't read Bella's mind? It now seems like she's impervious to all special powers that any vampires have. So that's... fascinating. In any event, the Volturis ultimately let Bella and her friends leave (for reasons I won't get into in this review), and they return to Forks. Edward says he'll never leave Bella again, though Jacob still obviously loves her. He and Edward only refrain from fighting because Bella says they'd hurt her if they hurt each other. And then... something major happens that I guess I'll hold off on spoiling, for now. (Though I still feel like I've spoiled way too much. But after all, I'm reviewing a saga, here, not just one movie....)
Oh, and I should say this movie apparently was liked less by critics than the first one, but I liked it more than I remember liking the first movie. I suppose in part that's because I'm kind of Team Jacob, and he was so much more important to the plot in this movie than he was in the first one. (Btw, I know the idea of "teams" isn't exactly new, but I think it was this franchise's whole "Team Edward/Team Jacob" thing that really sort of gave teams a new meaning, in pop culture vernacular. Though if you just think of it as "ships," it's not so new. In any event, I know my ship is going to sink, but I'll go down with it. For now, at least, I think Jacob and Bella just make more sense than Edward and Bella.) However... I am perfectly capable of pretending that Edward and Bella make sense, for the sake of the story. And that allows me to appreciate this movie all the more, for various reasons. So... really, I'm starting to think this whole thing is actually a pretty good story. Regardless of whether I agree with Bella's choice or not. (Not.)