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Still undecided after watching 'New Moon'

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After watching "New Moon" I'm still torn as to whether or not I like it.

I like some things about it, but there were things about the second movie, based on Stephenie Meyer's four-book "Twilight" saga, that rubbed me the wrong way.

I've always believed it's best to watch the movie then read the book. Otherwise, it ruins the movie for you.

After watching “New Moon” I embrace that theory wholeheartedly. As an avid reader, I find the book is almost always better. I was constantly watching and noting what was done differently from the print version, what was totally invented, what didn't make it to the script and what ended up on the cutting room floor - to my disappointment.

Although still undecided about the movie, I can gladly say the book is better. I’ll probably need to see it again just to get the full impact.

Standing in line for 45 minutes Saturday was no fun at all. But if you want a seat, you better get there early, and have tickets bought at least one viewing time in advance. Over the weekend, I’m told, each theater sold out before it opened to accept viewers. The line spanned from inside, out the door to the front drive and west around the building. We saw it at 7 p.m. Saturday, and the 9:30 seats were already about full when we finally were able to go in to be seated (we sat for 15-20 minutes inside).

I’m sure I would have liked the movie better if the folks down front by the speaker hadn’t left their cell phone on so that it sang and talked through some of the quieter, more intimate moments of the film. That made hearing anything but the phone impossible. It took a while for them to quit talking in and silence. If you’re going to a see a movie, especially one that well attended and anticipated, please folks - turn the phone off. If you have to leave it on, silence it; that’s what they make vibrate for!

Several of the teens who sat near us were unhappy with the ending, lamenting how awful that they have to wait six whole months for the next installment to find out what happens.

Those of us who have read the book know. We’re ahead of the curve. One boyfriend had the audacity to suggest his vocal lady read the book to find out between times. Vehemently she refused that suggestion, opting to whip out a cell to call a friend who had read it. If she was my friend, I’d tell her to read the book and find out for herself.

I liked the film's ending. I thought it was a great place to make the break. At that point, I thought Robert Pattinson gave his best performance. I thought other places in the movie his delivery was a bit lackluster. Not that he was in the movie that much! Pattinson as Edward, I thought, really pulled it out at the closing moment — reminding us why Bella (played by Kristen Stewart) fell for the inhuman Edward to begin with and why Pattinson was the right choice for this role.

At places, I thought Kristen Stewart could have done a better job too. Her screaming supposedly from night terrors just didn’t do it for me. But for the most part she did pull off the heartbroken girl, mourning her first love.

If I didn’t already like everyone’s favorite Shark Boy, I’d be a Taylor Lautner fan after this movie. I think Lautner did a great job as Jacob Black, Bella's best friend, (who just so happens to turn into a wolf half way through the movie. He’s a cute kid, just ask any of the 15 or so teen girls at the theater who gush over the toned 17-year-old the first time he loses his shirt (I’m told so far it’s happened every viewing). I want a best friend as warm and genuine as Lautner’s Jacob.

As for the wolves, the actors are definite eye candy, if not as overdeveloped as the hulking canine vamp killers they become.  But the CGI (computer generated imagery) is something else. Their eyes to me are as creepy as those of the children in the “Polar Express.”  They just didn’t seem real to me, even with the enhanced CGI — which don’t get me wrong, improved considerably from the initial preview released during the June 1 MTV awards program. To me, they’re just odd. Most of them look like really hairy wild hogs, with a few wolf-like facial features tacked on.

And of course, everyone needs an Alice — and Ashley Greene does her well. Too bad the movie doesn’t devote as much attention to her, and her connection to Bella and Edward, as Meyer’s book does. I think this is important for their full charcter – and plot – development in “Eclipse.”

Although I like Kellan Lutz, I still think he’s just not hulking enough to play Edward and Alice Cullen’s bear of a “brother” Emmett, one of my favorite characters in the Twilight series. Lutz, in this role, looks more like a dancer than the grizzly weight-lifter of Stephanie Meyer’s books. Rosalie is a flat character in “New Moon” the movie, just as Esme is. (If you blink you miss ‘em). I love actress Nikki Reed, who has most often been type-cast as the bag girl teen. There’s an entire scene that should have included her, as Bella and Edward return to Forks from Italy, but it didn’t make it in the movie.  Jackson Rathbone has potential, if they’d only show it. We’ll  see how much they follow the back-stories for Rose, Jasper and Emmett in “Eclipse,” which is due in theaters this summer.

I was a total Carlisle fan until this movie.  In “Twilight” he was a likable, knowledgeable character who’d lived since the 1600s and who all vampires should emulate. He’d be a great friend and father. The “New Moon” version seemed more creep than anything to me. Carlisle was downplayed in the movie, which I think is a disservice to Peter Facinelli and to Meyer’s book, as well as movie enthusiasts.

I absolutely love Bill Burke, who plays Bella's father, Charlie Swan. He really brought Bella’s father alive for me, much more so than the books. He added humor, which is always great.

Similarly, Anna Kendrick, did great with what few lines she had as Jessica Stanley in “New Moon” and Michael Welch as Mike Newtwon wasn’t too  bad either.

Dakota Fanning is a delight as the evil Jane — what we get to see of her - but I’m not sold on the other members of the Volturi.

While he certainly looks the part, and has the potential, from this performance, I think Michael Sheen should stick to werwolves. Chris Heyerdahl and Jamie Campbell Bower look the part, but I couldn’t really make out what they said (gotta love folks with phones and who can’t shut up during important parts). As Marucs and Caius, one is the bored vamp of old and the other should be impatient with the whole Edward-Bella trivialities.

And the Volturi fight scene — so not in keeping with the book - yet entertaining on the big screen.

I hated Edi Gathegi's performance in this movie. I loved him in "Twilight, but thought his portrayal of the starved Laurent, out scouting for the vengeful Victoria, was luke warm at best.

Overall, if I had to give the movie a grade from the first viewing, it’d get at B minus. But, I’m sure I’ll end up seeing it again when it comes out on video. if not again before it leaves theaters. Hey, I had to read the book twice before deciding it was OK. (You have to keep reading to book four, “Breaking Dawn,” before it really all falls into place and you quit hating Edward for leaving, then expecting to take right back up - and not liking Bella for being so darn wishy-washy).

I think if I’d watched the movie before reading the book, I’d have liked it better — but what would I have done with those two weeks worth of late night reading I spent not able to get enough of the saga, then rereading it because of all the things I missed?

If you haven’t already, read the book. If you have, go watch the movie, then re-read the book. It’ll explain so much the movie ignores.

Love to know what you think. Send me a few lines (or graphs) to let me know.

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