New Moon Film Review: Introducing the World of Vampires

Every time I read someone on the internet criticize The Twilight Saga for being about a teenage girl being in love with a teenage vampire, I can’t help but roll my eyes. Sure, Twilight does focus on that, but when you look at The Twilight Saga sequels, it’s more than the love story between Bella and Edward. As we go further and further, we see both of them mature and Bella introduced to the bigger world of the supernatural than we originally saw in Twilight.

The great thing about New Moon is the way it handles more serious topics that teenagers can Bella can relate to. With that, here’s our recap and review of the second installment of The Twilight Saga. The film was released in 2009, one year after Twilight was released.

 

Happy Birthday, Bella

On Bella’s 18th birthday, she has a dream of her and Edward being in their iconic meadow in the forest. Except while Edward is still his frozen 17-year-old self, she’s now an old woman. After waking up, she doesn’t really enjoy her birthday because the one-year age gap between them (though Edward technically is 108 years old), but Edward tells her that he wants her to live a full life, even if she becomes physically older than her.

The Cullens host a birthday dinner in their home. There, Edward teaches her about the Volturi, the largest and most powerful coven of vampires in the world and serves as unofficial vampire royalty and official law enforcers to ensure that vampires’ existence has remained a secret for over 3,000 years. Carlisle spent an unknown amount of time with the coven, but left when they couldn’t persuade him to feed on humans instead of animals and he couldn’t convince them to value human life.

While unwrapping her gifts, Bella gets a paper cut and her blood drives Jasper (whose past makes it difficult for him to resist blood) tries to attack her. In an attempt to protect her, Edward causes Bella to crash into a wall and receive a huge cut on her arm that requires stitches.

 

Goodbye, Edward

Edward believes that Bella being near him and his family poses a big risk for her and decides it is better if they all left and she forgot about him and moved on. He ends their relationship and leaves her. Bella falls into a depression and isolates herself from her friends and family. She finds that the Cullens are untraceable as their home is empty and she cannot reach any of them through any means.

Charlie, Bella’s father, believes it would be in Bella’s best interests to forget about Edward by leaving Forks and staying with her mother in Florida. However, Bella refuses and goes to see a movie with Jessica in an effort to prove she can heal with Edward’s loss.

After the movie, Bella sees a group of dangerous-looking men on motorcycles, reminding her of the time Edward saved her from would-be attackers. She discovers that putting herself in danger provides her with an almost real illusion of Edward’s presence, and she leaves Jessica to try and take a ride with one of the motorcycles. While she stops and leaves the man, she realizes putting herself in thrill-inducing activities can help her see Edward again.

 

Jacob’s Transformation

Wanting to get a motorcycle of her own, she goes to her Quileute childhood friend, Jacob Black. Spending time with him and his motorcycles helps her ease her pain. However, after going to the movies with him and another friend and he suddenly gets angry and has a high temperature, he begins avoiding her, which only makes her relapse into depression. She visits him a few days later to find that he has become more muscular, has cut his long hair, and has a tattoo on his arm.

In an attempt to seek out Edward once more, Bella ventures into the woods on her own and comes across Laurent. Back in Twilight, Laurent betrayed James and Victoria when he felt he was on the losing side of the battle and told the Cullens of their plans. In the books, he went on to find the Denali coven, friends of the Cullens, and became the mate of Irina even though he disliked their way of hunting animals instead of humans. This made Bella think Laurent was a friend, until he made it clear that he’s been spying on her and scouting Forks on Victoria’s orders. Because he’s on the hunt, he is tempted to kill Bella himself, but a group of wolves stop and kill him.

She later learns that Jacob and his new friends are werewolves – though more specifically and used to describe their condition in the movies, “shape-shifters that can turn into wolves,” since werewolves can only shift into their wolf form during the full moon. They are enemies of vampires, especially the Cullen family, and have laws that vampires that cross into their territory can be killed to protect their people. They tell Bella that Victoria has been returning, and when they learn why Victoria is hunting her down, Jacob promises to protect her.

 

“Not Without Cause”

In one scene, Bella sees Jacob’s friends cliff-dive. Realizing that it is a thrill-inducing activity that could evoke Edward’s memories, Bella attempts it. Jacob rescues her and drives her home, but they’re greeted by Alice, who went there to tell Charlie the bad news.

Apparently, she saw visions of a funeral (it was actually the funeral of Bella and Jacob’s family friend) and assumed it was Bella’s. She told Edward about her vision and Edward, wanting to die too for driving Bella to die, goes to the Volturi in Italy to kill him. The Volturi refuse to kill him without cause and try to convince him to join their coven instead, but Edward plans to force them to kill him by exposing his vampire powers to humans.

Bella and Alice leave for Italy despite Jacob begging Bella to leave Edward and stay with him. Bella reaches Edward seconds before he exposes himself and prevents other humans from seeing. They reconcile, with Edward telling Bella that he only left to protect her and will never leave her again. However, their reunion is interrupted by Volturi guards who take them back to their lair.

The Volturi leaders – Aro, Caius, and Marcus – see Bella and decide that she must die to protect their secrecy. However, when Edward is nearly killed trying to protect Bella and Bella offers to die in exchange for Edward’s life, Aro is moved by Bella’s willingness to sacrifice herself for him. He says she must either be killed or turned into a vampire, and Alice shows him a vision of the future showing Bella as a vampire. Aro agrees to let them go and give them time to transform Bella.

Bella, Edward, and Alice return to Forks and the rest of the Cullens return. They vote on whether or not Bella should be transformed into a vampire, and Edward and Rosalie are the only ones to vote no (we later learn why Rosalie is against it in Eclipse).

While driving, Edward and Bella stop and meet Jacob in the forest. He reminds Edward of the treaty the Cullens and the Quileutes made that Cullens will not bite any humans; if they do, they will come after the Cullens and kill them. He thinks this will stop Edward from turning Bella, but Bella asserts that it is her choice and therefore not against the treaty. She tells him that while she loves him, she asks him not to make her choose between the two of them because she will always choose Edward. After Jacob leaves in anger, Edward gives her an ultimatum: he will transform her himself, but only if she marries him.

 

New Moon, Today

Looking at this movie in 2019 (10 years after the film was originally released), the biggest issue I see with this film if it were released today is the handling of Bella’s mental state. While some people will scoff at the way Bella falls into a depression because of a boyfriend who literally ghosted her (way before the term “ghosting” even existed), you have to remember that this is a girl who just turned 18 who has never experienced or felt this sort of love for a boy – whether or not he is a vampire.

However, there would most likely be an issue based on the way Bella copes with her depression. It sends a dangerous message that justifies a person acting recklessly to feel any sort of emotion – not something you want impressionable teens to hear. If Bella did indeed spend months experiencing depression, she should have gotten counselling or professional help. Charlie’s decision to send her to her mother’s place came months late when he knew his daughter was isolating herself for months. It also gives the wrong idea that depression can be cured because the right boy healed Bella.

 

New Moon is an interesting sequel bridging the teenage romance of Twilight with the more serious topics of Eclipse and the two installments of Breaking Dawn. It’s not the most memorable of films out of the series, but it does the job of portraying Bella’s conflicted feelings over Jacob and Edward (hence the #TeamEdward and #TeamJacob phenomena during that time) and shows how far both of them are willing to go for each other. It also sets the stage of the conflict within the vampire world and leaves audiences unsettled because of the open-ended resolution with the Volturi, which will no doubt drive them to see how it resolves itself in Eclipse.

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