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Avril Brown Presents:

Years have passed since the hopeless romantic/fantasy fans of the world became aware of the fictional series known as the Twilight Saga and the addictive nature of the vampire/human/werewolf love story. As I stated in a previous column, I get it. The concept of true love made constant by eternal youth and beauty has an undeniable appeal, and for some (such as the majority of the teenage world) it is easy to become captivated with the visual vehicles of such an idea. When ‘Twilight’ the movie was released, nearly every pubescent person on the planet went completely ape-shit. Practically every aspects of pop culture was knocked completely out of balance as an unhealthy obsession with the film, the stars and everything remotely connected to the story blossomed almost overnight.

I think the movie ‘Twilight’ sucked major ass, largely due to the crap-tastic second half, but I was still looking forward to the release of ‘New Moon.’ With a new director at the helm and judging by the teasers I’d seen, it looked like there was a chance this movie could rock. Regardless, I am not one of those people who has to see a new movie as soon as possible. I was content to wait until the crowds had thinned a bit before hitting the theaters. However, my sister likes to shop. A lot. Recently she spent an undisclosed amount of money at Nordstrom’s and received a pass to an advanced screening of ‘New Moon’ playing at a theater downtown. Being a kind and generous sibling who is cognizant of my ‘Twilight’ obsession, she gifted me with this pass.

So journey with me, if you dare, as I recount my cinematic adventure at the advanced screening of the insanely anticipated second film in the Twilight Saga: ‘New Moon.’

Thursday had arrived, the day of the ‘New Moon’ premiere, and I was tingling in anticipation. I had planned ahead and adjusted my hours at work, giving myself enough time to shower and get pretty before heading over to the theater. After basking in the jealousy of a few co-workers at my lucky fortune in acquiring my shiny movie pass, I grinned a happy grin, grabbed a few normally priced snacks at the Jewel and hoofed it over to the AMC River East Theater.

I arrived at the theater not quite sure what to expect. Perhaps a wall of teenage girls, clad in Team Jacob shirts and shrieking randomly? Or a line around the theater, hundreds of people long? Possibly extra security detail patting people down in search of recording devices? Thankfully, none of the above were present. Unbeknownst to me, this ‘exclusive advanced screening’ was playing on twenty out of the twenty-one theaters available, so instead of walking into an agoraphobic’s nightmare the facility was tame, with barely any people waiting in line. A WGN news reporter passed over the twenty-something loner and interviewed the three teens in line next to me. They had literally dressed up for the occasion, and their wide smiles revealed their braces and gushing enthusiasm for the upcoming film. Not at all offended at being left out of the questionnaire (seriously, not one bit), I was pleased I at least put some makeup on as yours truly ended up with a half-second of screen time when the cameraman did a sweeping shot of the patrons.

The laughable line moved quickly, and after an employee loudly announced to the world I was attending this movie solo, I received a theater number and headed towards my destination. A handful of people were already settled in their seats, and I swallowed my bitterness at putting stock in the warning on the movie pass to arrive three hours early. Besides, I had a book, my journal, and my eyes wide open to absorb the absurdity trickling in around me.

Time went by and the body count swelled. The excitement became palatable, especially after the manager made an appearance for announcements and a quick survey she was putting to each theater: “Team Edward or Team Jacob?” She issued warnings of the concert-style crowds to be expected once the movie was over, and that during the film we will be watched by security personal sporting night vision goggles and a zero tolerance of anything which may possibly be a recording device. The creepy-ness of this fact was intensified by the arrival of said security who could have silenced us with a look, let alone a bellow of “FOLKS!” and a stern reiteration of what the nice manager had just told us. In all fairness, he seemed to become aware of our almost fearful attention and tried to lighten things up by joking about VHS and Beta recorders. I was one of the few people who laughed.

The magic hour was coming on and I began to get glimpses of abnormal behavior ranging from the adorable (two girls, arms linked, skipping to their seats) to the annoying (a girl in front of me began a countdown thirty minutes to show time). Finally the lights dimmed and the movie commenced with a brief montage of video clips showing the stars and their adoring fans at interviews and red carpet appearances. The crowd did not disappoint as the shrieking began and it became nearly impossible to hear at all, let alone differentiate between the auditory orgy on the screen and the one in the theater. A friendly woman sitting next to me I’d chatted with briefly (our shared lack of teenage-hood allowed us to bond) felt a reminder was in order for the hysterical masses: “He’s not here, and he can’t hear you!”

Thankfully the clips were short lived and there was only one preview (‘Letters to Juliet’ starring Amanda Seyfried and a hot Aussie named Christopher Egan, which looks to be a romantic comedy heavy on the cheese with a sickly sweet ending…I’m probably going to see it). Having spent the day reading god awful reviews from a variety of sources, I literally held my breath as the movie began. When it was over, I sighed in relief.

I liked it.

A majority of the film was taken verbatim from the book of which I heartily approve, and though I disliked most of the scenes which were not I admit certain alterations were necessary and handled well. ‘New Moon’ is heavy on the romantic angst and a great deal of it takes place in the broken-hearted Bella’s head, which does not translate well to film. Therefore in the movie she writes one-sided letters to Alice, one of the wayward vampires she was closest to next to her lost love Edward. In the book Bella starts doing anything for an adrenalin rush, for that is when she hears Edward’s voice, urging her to stop and be safe. In the movie he appears to her as a misty figure, which is of course somewhat hokey, but visually better than a disembodied voice.

Although clearly superior to its crap-tastic predecessor ‘Twilight’ (though that is not really saying a lot), ‘New Moon’ is by no means the most stunning of cinematic achievements. The stars, though pretty to look at, all seem to share an inability to skillfully convey intense emotion, the film does drag a bit at times, and certain scenes are so ridiculous even the Twi-hard teens were laughing. However, it is a visual knock-out (the CG is decent but the scenery is lovely…that goes for the environment as well as the abs), it is largely faithful to the novel and it didn’t suck ass. Plus there was the added bonus of being present among an excitable, emotional crowd who (among other auditory additions) groaned at Jacob’s initial appearance where he has long, rather unkempt hair and a shirt firmly attached to his body, and cheered as only obsessed female fans can when said shirt was discarded for the first time (the enthusiasm carried over to each and every time he showed up half naked).

Yes, this unhealthy obsession with all things ‘Twilight’ has gotten completely out of control. I honestly believe Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner should fear for their lives. However that does not mean fun can not be had. The movie was entertaining, as was the crowd and the slightly surreal experience, and quite frankly that is good enough for me.

Avril Brown 

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