Enter The Twilight Zone
I’m standing in my local cinema’s lobby. It is full (and I mean, full) with young, 12-16 year olds dressed in various manners and states chatting, running and joking noisily. I feel, more or less, around 75 years old. Amongst the din there is most definitely, unmistakedly, excitement in the air on a level normally associated with say, Christmas morning. I look to my left. There is a cardboard cut out of the sort found in most cinema lobbies. It is slightly larger than normal and features three characters. The body of one character is obscured by a printed notice which, on closer inspection, displays the following instructional message:
‘CUSTOMER NOTICE – in the interest of keeping this cinema as germ free as possible, please refrain from kissing or hugging Edward or, for that matter, any other character featured here.’
Ladies and gentleman welcome, to The Twilight Zone.
I’m no expert businessman but the decision by the cinema to stage two screenings of the second part of The Twilight Saga, New Moon, at the same time didn’t seem to make mathematical sense. Simple numbers really. Each screen holds two-hundred and fifty cinemagoers. The lobby holds about three-hundred. If you multiply two-hundred and fifty by two what results is a mangled mess of tweenies arms and legs with various ornate wristbands attempting to dislodge my eyeballs from their sockets. What also results is proof that the English are not the only nation who know how to queue because when fandom on this scale is involved, nobody knows how to queue.
We finally make our way to the screen doors. I’m expecting another mess of mammoth proportions. I’m expecting a (probably) spotty usher to be flummoxed by the mass of bodies all wanting central positions. I’m expecting and prepared to have to turf some skin-head oik out of our seats. What I find is most bizarre: ordered and nearly silent calm. You see what resulted from the chaos was people so desperate to get in to see ‘the best film ever made’ (their words, not mine) that they just filed in, took their allocated seats quietly and waited. And it’s bloody fantastic. I’ve been in full-to-the-brim cinemas before and normally witness at least a crying baby, a parent exploding at an unfortunate staff member or some other act of disruption. But here, there is nothing. I feel like crying out, ‘at least have a popcorn fight for God’s sake because this just isn’t natural!’
But they don’t. They sit there and watch and appreciate their film. Sometimes yes, the group laughter is a bit forced and in the wrong place and yes there is the mass cooing when Jacob (Taylor Lautner) takes off his shirt but on the whole they just watch. And that is because, and there is no mistake about this, this is their film. For whatever reason these people, and to be fair more outside their age range, get Twilight. They understand the love triangle (more present in this second itineration) they understand the attraction to Edward’s alternative vampire, they just get what it is about.
As a whole I don’t. But having said that, perhaps due to the unexpected atmosphere at the cinema I did actually enjoy parts of New Moon. Firstly, there are some genuinely great shots. Two in particular (one a unique and brave way to show the passage of time which is over just a bit too quickly and the other a chase through the woods between the wolves and a vampire set to bare, eerie music) are really verging on jaw-droppingly beautiful. Secondly, it is miles better than the first film, due in no small amount to the fact that Robert Pattinson’s anaemic Edward is largely replaced for much of the film by Lautner’s Jacob (yes folks I’m 'Team Jacob'... whatever that means). I’ve now reached the conclusion that Pattinson really cannot act and he once again does a great impression of a constipated goat in the vast majority of his scenes. Lautner, in comparison, may as well be Brando and his complicated-in-a-teenage-way relationship with Bella (Kristen Stewart), doesn’t need your belief (or understanding) in the fact he’s a werewolf to function. It is, crucially, a human relationship, with all the mess that brings.
There are of course bad sides too. Michael Sheen does a woeful amalgamation of what it would be like if Tony Blair did a Brian Clough accent whilst pretending to be a vampire and his entire one or two scenes are squeezed in at the end, assumedly to introduce his character (and that of Dakota Fanning) for the next film. Similarly, a sub-plot involving Victoria from the first film is brought up when it’s convenient but forgetten when it’s not. The script is still fairly woeful the majority of the time and Kristen Stewart continues to not do her obvious skills any favours whatsoever. And oh yes, R-Patz is still in it at some moments, did I mention that already?
Yeah sure, New Moon isn’t for me and I wouldn’t willingly sit through it again but then, I wouldn’t expect any of the tweenies sitting there to sit through Deer Hunter or Deliverance, to name but two. It is unabashed and unashamed tweenage fun and in that regard it’s a success, crucially, more so than the first film which should be deleted from the memory of all who saw it. Overall, despite the near loss of life in the lobby, I’m actually glad I went to see New Moon with its fan-drawn crowds of Village Of The Damned style, well-behaved youngsters. They enjoyed it, I survived it and everyone went home with all their limbs and eyeballs intact. Apart from, maybe, the cut out because there were a couple of distinctly ambitious and rather small tweens eyeing up whether it was possible to carry the eight-foot square construction out when I left. Who knows, in The Twilight Zone, anything is possible.