Twilight may have been the most polarizing blockbuster of 2009. For every mob of Twi-hard tweens chasing Robert Pattinson down the streets of Hollywood, there seemed to be an equally aggressive mob complaining that Catherine Hardwicke had ruined their favorite book. Obviously, the film was successful enough to guarantee that at least the next two books in the Twilight saga would make it to the silver screen, but not without some changes. A new director was chosen and a key role was recast. Will New Moon , the next installment in the series, help to reunite the divided masses? Might it even manage to convert some new Twilight devotees? Here are five reasons we think it just might:
New Direction: Nothing against Hardwicke, but excitement for New Moon really began to pick up with the announcement that Chris Weitz would be taking over directing duties. True, the man has a less-than-stellar record with genre work (The Golden Compass, anyone?), but what his career has proven is that he understands teenagers. This guy shares half the responsibility for the American Pie franchise (and by "franchise," I mean the ones that were released in theaters, not the endless stream of unspeakably awful direct-to-DVD sequels) and all the responsibility for About a Boy, arguably the greatest coming-of-age comedy of the decade. Here's hoping Weitz's lighter touch will bring a bit more life to the dreary teens of Forks -- even the dead ones.
New Confidence: If there's anything this decade has taught us, it's that adapting popular books for the big screen gets easier with each try. Just look at how much the Harry Potter franchise has improved since its first outing. The same thing is bound to happen for this series. The actors have had time to dig deeper into their characters, the studio has invested more money, and everyone involved with Twilight has come back for New Moon older and wiser from the experience of having done this whole vampire love story thing before.
New Eye Candy: Part of the reason Robert Pattinson in particular seems more confident this time around is that he's had at least a portion of the heartthrob duties on New Moon lifted for him by junior werewolf Taylor Lautner. Ever since the 17 year old put in an impressive amount of gym time to keep the role of Jacob Black, not an episode of Access Hollywood has aired that hasn't featured a reason to discuss his abs. And now that young Mr. Lautner appears to have taken up romantically with that other Taylor teenage girls seem to like, the tabloids have even slightly backed off their dogged quest to confirm if Pattinson and Kristen Stewart are an item. Doubling the number of swoon-worthy male leads seems to have been a wise investment for the Twilight franchise.
New Tunes: Have you listened to the New Moon soundtrack yet? Because it's received the kinds of rave reviews the movie itself couldn't even dream of getting. Of course, the first Twilight soundtrack was more fun than any collection of angsty emo rock deserves to be. But the songs chosen for New Moon (including new tracks from Death Cab For Cutie, The Killers, and Radiohead's Thom Yorke)seem to be a little less on the nose. As I listen, I have a harder time figuring out which songs will accompany which scenes in the movie, also giving me hope that the rest of the film may also be a little more creatively sophisticated than its predecessor.
New Tension: Perhaps the biggest factor in New Moon's chances to improve on Twilight is the fact that New Moon is just an all-around stronger story. There's more genuine conflict on every page -- Edward struggles with the constant danger Bella lives in because of him, Bella is left alone to contend with the vengeful Victoria, and the Edward/Bella/Jacob triangle begins to take shape. New threats are introduced that will loom over the rest of the series. The excitement in the story feels more genuine. We just have to hope that excitement will translate to the screen.