I must say that having been one of those twi-hards who totally saw the first showing in Philadelphia on opening night, the suspense and electricity of the unknown was thick, you could choke off the excitement. Expecations were very high for this film since Twilight and, of course the trailers, left us wanting more.
After a few months and about twenty viewings of New Moon, I have to say that my inital euphoria has waned and my sensibilities have kicked in.
Was New Moon better than Twilight? Yes and no.
My issues with Twilight, the movie, weren't very many as we already knew it was going to be low budget and we were dealing with a fresh crop of actors as leads, sans Kirsten Stewart whom by all means should be considered a seasoned vet (whether you agree that her acting is great or not). So my expectations were never high to begin with and I think director Catherine Hardwicke's passion and dedication to the film boiled over in folds on screen, and I came to appreciate those touches she put on the material to help it translate from script to screen. With what she had in terms of budget and the small window for shooting principal photography, I feel like she did a great job and a lot of people were unecessarily harsh on her as soon as they saw the trailers for New Moon and were like "Oh, it's going to be way better". And I have to say, because the movie had a bigger budget, I was expecting a little more. And in terms of visual effects and the wolves' transformations, Laurent being more bad-ass and blah, blah, blah, New Moon did supercede the previous, but that was only because it had the bank to do so.
But my issues with the second installment are what made it's first far better IMO. Attention to the details of the book were a big part of the book fandom latching on to Twi. With the exception of a few small dets like Emmett eating the damn cookie (okay that was major) and maybe a few things here and there, which Catherine was able to clear up and stated that they were for the sake of transation from reading to visual concepts, Catherine took care of Stephenie's vision.
I'm not dissing Melissa Rosenberg completely, but I feel that Catherine, first, was right about the script needing more time. I thought the dialogue was effing horrid to a certain extent. There were genuine moments of awesomeness, mostly because people like Peter Facinelli and Billy Burke know their stuff and can make everything and anything work. But that only works if you know what you're doing. And as much as we all love Robert, he has not yet, nor Kristen for that matter, (and I am one of those people who do not hold much stock in her as an actor or as Bella) have the chops to pull it off. The same can be said for Taylor Lautner, whose acting was not bad, but still a little lacking. But all of that could have been avoided had the script been a little more wanting. Lines like (I'm paraphrasing), "Jake, you're like buff" and "doubting your mad skills" made me want to barf. Taylor Lautner telling Ashley Greene's Alice that "things could get very ugly" was so pathetically un-ironic and unoriginal, I had the same feeling as when I first opened up the novel Twilight in a Barnes & Nobles three years ago, and laughed my butt off at the horrid writing (I have since then decided that while Stephenie has improved as a writer, she is still a much better storyeller than she is a novelist).
With the first movie, you can tell that the writing went through a major process. It was refined. It was not the best script in the world, but the lines held meat, and there were some really great scenes throughout the entire movie. This movie felt a little rushed. And of course it was. Because it was given a green light just one day after the movie premiere of Twi, that didn't leave a whole lot of time between early November and-what-April (?) to fix the problems that were going on with the script. Catherine knew that. No matter how much that bluish steady camera crap was a little annoying after awhile at least it went with the theme of the movie and matched the feeling and words being shown on camera. NM may have the glitz but it didn't have the guts.
As for Chris Weitz, I do think he did some lovely things with the movie visually. I loved the cienematography by Javier Aguirresarobe. I loved the color palette. But in a movie where a lot of people feel the acting leaves a lot to be desired by the two leads and everyone who is a fan of the book first (and that's like, the majority of the move fanbase believe it or not) is wanting damn near perfection, allowing Alice to jump over stairs at school like she was Shawn Johnson on crack when the whole point is for the Cullens to appear normal and blend in, kind of makes being inconspicuous a little hard yeah? It annoyed me more than it should because I was still thinking about it five minutes later during an important part of Bella and Edward's discussion from classroom to the Cullen home. And Bella shouting. "Hey Jasper, NO FAIR WITH THE MOOD CONTROL THING!", since people in the tunnels hiding with Osama couldn't hear her, was also annoying. Yes Bella would say that, but Bella is probably more conscious and aware of not outing the Cullens than even they are and that's saying a lot. At this point in the movie and all throughout, people were laughing at things that I don't think were supposed to be really funny (a few days later my observations were shared by an Entertainment Weekly reviewer who pretty much said the same thing).
I could have done without Jacob's fake sprint up the tree into Bella's window, along with that whole scene's writing, including KS grabbing a fist full of TL'S hair which looked way rehearsed. But what I really thought was crazy was toward the end, when Alice's vision is shown to Volturi leader Aro and we see Robert and Kristen (with facial expessions that kind of matched mine as in "REALLY THOUGH?") running slow mo through the 100 Acre Woods). It was all very Tuck Everlasting without there being an everlasting feeling of whatever good thing we were supposed to get out of it. As we say in North Philly, "that sh*t was gay!". Sorry Wanda Sykes, but I don't mean gay in a good way, like "Oh I wish I was a man so I could shag Adam Lambert and Neil Patrick Harris to the ends of the earth because they are just that hot). I mean it was whack. A simple shot of Bella's red eyes would do the trick for me.
At the end of the day, New Moon was good. I enjoyed it after I bought the DVD and had time to let go of my issues and just like it for what it was. I had to buy the DVD because when it comes to be a Twi-fan you take your Twilection very seriously, but if they were going to choose quantity over quality to make this movie, then I'm already not a going to be happy with the next two. Believe me, if New Moon would have come out in June as opposed to November, what would have those extra six months done for the script? There would have been time for someone to say no, and I'm not talking about Stephenie or anyone else already involved, I'm talking about someone objective who could say to them that some of that stuff was a hot mess.
I hope David Slade and Melissa Rosenberg have something to bring to Eclipse that will be out of this world. Judging by the small preview on our UFE NM DVD's it looks like it will be amazing, but so did New Moon and I was a bit dissapointed.