Alright, fellow Twilighters! You’ve read all the books; you’ve watched the movie. By now, you should own your own copy of the DVD, a drawer full of “I Heart Edward/Jacob” t-shirts (one for every day of the week, naturally), the chart-topping soundtrack, and – the piece de resistance for any Twilight die-hard — your very own Edward Cullen action figure, to play with as you please in the comfort of your own home. So what’s a Twilighter to do until the first sequel, New Moon, hits theaters later this year? Gear up for the next installment of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight Saga with our primer on the next chapter in Bella and Edward’s romance, currently in production.
The huge success of Twilight can be attributed to a few elements: first, good casting. Second, faithfulness to its source material, as written by first-time novelist Stephenie Meyer. While screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg (Step Up) deviated at times from Meyer’s story, in which teenage introvert Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) fell for the 107-year-old vampire, Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson), Rosenberg stayed true to the essence of Meyer’s novel…will she do so again in New Moon?
In New Moon, we catch up with Bella and Edward a few months after the proceedings of Twilight, in which they met, fell desperately in love, kissed exactly twice, and defeated the blood-thirsty vampire, James. (Hurrah!) But the lovebirds’ burgeoning relationship is not without its flaws; she’s still a fragile human, and he — and, more importantly, those around him — is still a super-strong, undead hottie, whose razor-sharp teeth prevent them from French kissing and whose animalistic thirst for blood keeps Bella under threat of perpetual danger. When an event makes Edward realize the danger his very presence puts Bella in, he pulls an “it’s not you, it’s me — oh yeah, and the fact that I’m a vampire” and breaks off their relationship.
Thus begins New Moon, which suffers the unfortunate reputation of being the mopiest book in the series but opens new (and romantic) possibilities for Bella, who’s already been through a lot for a girl who’s still got her senior year of high school to contend with. As Edward breaks things off with Bella, she falls into a deep depression…but begins to snap out of it thanks to her increasingly close friendship with local Quileute Indian Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner), whose own supernatural secret – he’s the latest in a line of werewolves, who just happen to be the mortal enemies of vampires – draws Bella into yet another superhuman world.
Meanwhile, Bella’s got an old enemy to contend with, as the bad girl vampire Victoria (Rachelle Lefevre) makes it known that she’s out for Bella’s life — vengeance for the death of her own lover, James (Cam Gigandet) in the first film. That end scene in Twilight as the credits begin to roll? That’s Victoria, already sniffing around Forks for the best opportunity to exact her revenge.
Next: Returning players and new cast members
With the conspicuous exit of Twilight director Catherine Hardwicke, we’ve got a new helmer at the reins of New Moon: Chris Weitz, who got his start by co-writing Antz (95 percent on the Tomatometer) – and then wrote The Nutty Professor II: The Klumps (26 percent). Weitz then wrote and directed About a Boy (93 percent)…and followed it with The Golden Compass (42 percent). (He also produced the American Pie movies, for what it’s worth.)
That said, on paper it’s easy to see the potential Weitz brings to New Moon: he’s proven deft at tackling relationships, teenage audiences, and working with lots of computer generated special effects — the latter of which will come in handy for showing Twilight readers how the Quileutes “phase” from human to wolf form and back (hint for Jacob fans: it involves shredding their clothes to bits and emerging stark naked). Familiarity with CG technology will also be crucial for New Moon‘s pivotal scene in Volterra, Italy, in which Edward Cullen’s difficult “sparkling” effect will be on display – an effect proven extremely hard to pull off in Catherine Hardwicke’s film. Then again, Hardwicke was working with a $37 million budget; after Twilight‘s $370 million worldwide gross, Weitz will have a blockbuster budget.
Of course, Twilight‘s main cast had to return. For Kristen Stewart, who’s been acting since the age of 11, Twilight was a star vehicle that came out of nowhere to propel her to the upper echelons of celebrity, gossip mags, and the IMDB StarMeter. (If nothing else, it’s giving Stewart’s smaller films — The Cake Eaters, Adventureland, K-11, and her upcoming Joan Jett biopic – more attention.) New Moon could prove challenging to Stewart, whose Bella must carry the entire film almost by herself (Edward is largely absent throughout New Moon‘s middle third) while Bella suffers from all-but clinical depression during most of it, to boot.
Like Stewart, Rob Pattinson has ridden the Twilight frenzy into the limelight –whether he likes it or not. (Need evidence? Google “Spunk Ransom.”) Expect to see more subdued vampirism from Edward and the rest of the Cullens this time around, whose stage-thick makeup jobs and ridiculous vampire hisses gave Twilight‘s detractors much glee. Pattinson’s job, too, will be challenging — he’s got to maintain heartthrob status and keep fans faithfully hoping for a Bella-Edward reunion while being largely absent from the film. Weitz will likely use Pattinson in Bella’s hallucinations during Edward’s absence, so the chemistry between the two leads will have to be incredibly strong…else Edward fans jump ship to Team Jacob.
Because the Cullen family blows town early on, we probably won’t see much of Rosalie, Emmett, Jasper, Carlisle, and Esme. Alice (Ashley Greene), however, has a juicier role in New Moon than she did in Twilight, where she only got to draw her supernaturally-powered visions and rip James’ head off.
Instead, we’ll learn more about the world of the Quileute, the local Indian tribe whose members have inherited the ability to shape-shift into werewolves, protectors of their people and, in New Moon, of Bella. Jacob Black (Lautner), who Bella had seen as a younger brother type, will now be a (wolf)man — and, with Edward out of the picture, Bella’s a free woman. Herein lies one of the more interesting quandaries of Twilight. Jacob and Bella are BFFs, and are inexplicably connected; should she move on with her life and give Jacob a shot? Or should she hold out for Edward to return, because she’s still devastatingly — and yes, destructively — in love with him? Critics looking for something to squawk about will likely harp on this unhealthy love triangle, but we Twilight fans know there’s no forgetting your first (undead) love.
All of which brings us to the X-factor in New Moon: the Volturi. While we won’t encounter them until Edward goes to Italy, the Volturi characters — a powerful, clandestine order of Italian vampires who have ruled the vampire world for centuries, and have the potential to destroy all that Bella loves — have a lasting presence throughout the four-book Twilight saga, so their casting and how they’re presented will lay a foundation for later Volturi appearances in subsequent films.
Most buzzed about among the casting rumors and announcements is Dakota Fanning as Jane, henchwoman to Volturi leaders Aro, Marcus, and Caius (to be played by pretty English actor Jamie Campbell Bower, most recently seen in Sweeney Todd). Jane is described as diminutive and sadistic, a powerful vampire who was “turned” as a young teenager along with her brother, Alec; both twins also possess psychic powers, which they use to inflict pain and death upon enemies of the Volturi. The biggest question here isn’t whether or not Fanning can pull off such a role — at 15, she’s a seasoned Hollywood veteran with more credits to her name than most of her co-stars — but whether or not her star wattage will distract from the rest of the film. Jane’s part (in New Moon) is relatively small, and unless Rosenberg has drastically changed her storyline from Meyer’s book, it could create an imbalance on screen. After all, who wants to be upstaged by a five foot-tall supporting character?
Next: What we want to see most in New Moon!
All that said, Weitz and Co. are only weeks into production, currently filming in Vancouver. While we eagerly await the first official production stills and teaser trailers for The Twilight Saga: New Moon, we’ve selected a handful of moments we’re most looking forward to seeing on screen.
“Are you sure you don’t want to see Tomorrow and Forever instead? Rotten Tomatoes gave it a better review.” – Mike Newton to Bella Swan, Chapter 9, New Moon
That’s right — a Stephenie Meyer shout out to Rotten Tomatoes! Naturally, Bella Swan opts for the gore fest Crosshairs instead of a romantic comedy called Tomorrow and Forever, still hurting from her break-up with Edward. What better way to spend an awkward Three’s Company moment, on a movie date with rival beaus Mike Newton and Jacob Black? Mike doesn’t make it far into the movie before he has to barf from the carnage; maybe if they’d seen the better-reviewed Tomorrow and Forever, he wouldn’t have left Bella in Jacob’s eager hands! Rookie mistake. Always trust the Tomatometer.
We’re also curious to see how director Weitz handles Bella’s hallucinations; in the book, she discovers that her deep depression over losing Edward has created a psychological tic in which she can hear his voice when in dangerous situations. This leads to a handful of scenes in which Bella stupidly endangers herself on purpose — essential plot events which are quite likely to draw criticism, being that it’s an incredibly unhealthy way for a girl to nurse a broken heart. We’d like to see Rosenberg’s script find a stronger way for Bella to move on with her life, in the same way that Stewart played an emboldened version of Bella in the first Twilight film.
Lastly, there’s the pivotal Volterra sequence; as Bella and Alice race to Italy to save Edward, we’ll see the lovers reunite, Edward’s sparkling effect, and meet the Volturi vampires for the first time — a culmination of events that will effectively set up subsequent films. The Volterra scenes have the most potential to inject excitement into an otherwise sedate storyline, given that Bella will be racing against the clock in an exotic locale, and will be introduced to a new world of powerful and dark vampires.
What are you looking forward to seeing in New Moon? Twilighters, chime in below and check back for regular updates in our Twilight Corner on RT.