Dr. Ted Baehr is the founder and publisher of MOVIEGUIDE, chairman of the Christian Film & Television Commission, and a well-known movie critic, educator, lecturer and media pundit. He also is the author of several books, including "The Culture-Wise Family" with legendary entertainer Pat Boone. For more information, please call 800-899-6684 or go to the MOVIEGUIDE website.More ↓Less ↑
“The Twilight Saga: New Moon” is the second of four vampire stories by Stephenie Meyer, a Mormon. It continues the love story between Edward and Bella, two unique teenagers. Bella spirals down into a deep hole of depression when the vampire she loves leaves her in an effort to protect her. She finds herself picking up the pieces of her broken heart with her best friend, who happens to be a werewolf.
Picking up where the first movie left off, “New Moon” opens with Bella (played by Kristen Stewart), having recovered from the vampire attack that almost claimed her life, starting her senior year of high school and celebrating her 18th birthday with Edward Cullen, a vampire who refuses to attack humans, and his family.
After an ill-fated accident resulting in Bella’s blood being spilled at the Cullen residence, which is almost too much for certain members of the family, Edward (played by Robert Pattinson) decides to leave. He believes he is protecting Bella from the dangers of the vampire world by doing so. He asks her to promise him not to do anything reckless.
Bella, utterly heartbroken and losing all semblance of functionality to the point of becoming zombielike, is haunted by the memories of her time with Edward and seems incapable of pulling out of her new depression.
Finally, after about four months, Bella makes an effort to reconnect with old friends, one of whom is a childhood friend, a Native American named Jacob Black (played by Taylor Lautner).
During this time, she accidentally discovers that, by being reckless and putting herself in dangerous situations, she is able to see images of Edward in her mind more clearly and hear his voice. Desperate to be with him no matter the cost to herself, she purposefully continues to put herself at risk.
With Jacob’s help, Bella rebuilds an old motorbike to further her dangerous escapades. She soon comes to discover that Jacob might be exactly what she needs to heal from the hurt of her broken relationship. She begins to feel alive and happy again, even though the memory of Edward is still painful.
Her friendship with Jacob, a member of the Quileute tribe, leads her to a new discovery concerning the secrets of their heritage, as Jacob must deal with a newfound ability to transform himself into a werewolf. In the midst of this, Bella’s life in is danger with the arrival of Victoria, the vampire mate of James, who was killed by Edward and his family in the first movie.
The emotional tension and plot slowly culminates in the end where Bella must save Edward from deliberately provoking the Volturi (a secret vampire society that regulates the laws over others of their kind) into killing Edward. Like Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” Edward has received information leading him to believe Bella is dead, and he believes that, by provoking the vampire leaders, he can end his misery.
Fans of “New Moon” will love it, but many critics will groan!
Those who go into the film expecting lots of action and excitement probably will be disappointed, because the movie isn’t so much about thrills as it is about Bella’s heartbrokenness and the boy who brings her back from her depression and helps her feel alive again.
Those who have not read the books will still enjoy it, but may not be able to understand everything, as the finer details will be lost to them. It’s obvious, therefore, that Director Chris Weitz is catering to the fans with his adaptation (as opposed to the critics), and the fans won’t be disappointed.
The production values of “New Moon” are held to a higher standard than the first movie, “Twilight.” For example, it does a much better job of staying true to the book than the first movie, and the character portrayals are much more believable as they demonstrate greater emotional depth. Although the actors give excellent performances, it is Kristen Stewart who carries the movie to the end. The screenplay is also well written, although some scenes had to be arranged differently than they were laid out in the book, but, overall, the movie is a fair and accurate representation.
The content of “New Moon” includes many positive, moral elements – surprising for a movie about vampires, werewolves and teenage romance. For example, Bella is willing to give up her life for Edward if that means saving him. Also, Bella and Edward do not let their relationship go any farther than kissing.
Furthermore, Edward consistently refuses to give in to Bella’s demands to be turned into a vampire, because he is afraid that she will lose her soul and be damned to hell, although in the end he acquiesces on the condition that she marries him first. Lastly, the vampires who drink human blood are shown to be the evil, bad guys, and though the good vampires struggle with the temptation to do so as well, they do not give into their bloodlust.
That said, there are many reasons to be concerned about the content in “New Moon.” For example, Bella makes it very clear she wants to become a vampire and doesn’t care about her soul. She even tells Edward he can take her soul as long as it means that she will get to be with him forever. As the heroine of the story, someone that young, impressionable girls would idolize, this message is potentially dangerous and misleading.
Along these lines, the intense relationship between Bella and Edward is disconcerting. The impression is given that neither of them is capable of existing without the other. This kind of love is more like a combination of love, lust and obsession rather than true love.
In that light, the movie is filled with high emotion and teen angst to the point where characters are unable to function properly. Thus, the message being sent to teenagers and young adults is that this is what love really is – a message that is encouraged as the characters are portrayed as truly knowing their hearts and having an accurate understanding of what love entails.
Other elements of concern include some unresolved discussion concerning whether vampires still have souls and if they are ultimately destined for hell. Because of this uncertainty, Edward is greatly opposed to turning Bella into a vampire, but Bella’s constant insistence finally wins out, though this particular event doesn’t take place in this movie.
Taken together, these elements – and “New Moon”‘s strong Romantic worldview, its occult and pagan content, brief violence, Bella’s reckless behavior and Edward’s suicidal actions – are unacceptable viewing for media-wise moviegoers.
“The Twilight Saga” and “New Moon” make the world of vampires and werewolves look very attractive. Parents and children should be aware of this and use appropriate discernment.
Ultimately, the driving question raised by “New Moon” is: “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?” (Mark 8:36).