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New Moon’ DVD: Stuffed with Extra Features and Pretty Actors

Jordan Gamble | Thursday, March 25, 2010

Desperate housewives, excited middle-schoolers and slightly embarrassed college students lined up at Wal-Marts late last Friday night to pick up “New Moon,” the newest DVD release in the “Twilight” movie franchise. While enthusiastic shoppers had several different versions of the DVD to choose from, the two-disc “Ultimate Fan Edition” was the most popular.

Disc One:

The Film:
“The Twilight Saga: New Moon” is obviously a more “studio” film than the first installment, but that polish helps ground the elements that could easily border on silly. (After all, in this universe, vampires sparkle in the sun rather than burst into flames.)

For what shortcomings the movie has in inducing giggle-fits, director Chris Weitz still took great care in crafting a really beautiful film. Alexandre Desplat’s score — along with songs from Thom Yorke and The Editors effectively instilling some morose, grand sweep — comes across clear and haunting on the DVD. This pairs nicely with a great digital transfer of rich cinematography from Javier Aguirresarobe.

With a steady script and the benefit of playing these roles once before, the actors’ interactions have an authenticity that was lacking in the first film.

Taylor Lautner is a welcome surprise as Jacob, Bella’s best friend who has a supernatural secret of his own. Fans of the books know that Bella is going to end up with Edward, but darn it if Lautner doesn’t work hard at making you believe otherwise.

Robert Pattinson’s Edward is even more suave and swoon-worthy and tones down the eyebrow-acting, but he’s really hardly in this movie.

Kristen Stewart as Bella refrains from the sputtering she abused in “Twilight,” and no longer acts by blinking out Morse code with her emotive eyelids. Not even Stewart’s heroic attempts at likeability can change the pre-determined storyline, however, and at the end of the “New Moon” movie, just as in the book, Bella comes off as outrageously selfish.

Yet for a movie all about the confusion and imperfections of teenage love (with mythical creatures, no less), “The Twilight Saga: New Moon” still seems remarkably steady and polished.

The Commentary:
The best part about the first film’s DVD release was the hilarious commentary track with Pattinson, Stewart and that film’s director, Catherine Hardwicke. Though different, the DVD release of “New Moon” has a perfectly informative commentary track from director Weitz and the film’s editor, Peter Lambert.

The “Twilight” films are often characterized as silly and overwrought (with good reason), but from listening to Weitz and Lambert, quite a bit of effort and thought went into the technical production. For filmmaking buffs, hearing about all the mechanics of special effects and how the filmmakers put together the puzzle pieces of camera shots makes for a fascinating second viewing of “New Moon.”

Disc Two:
A sneak peek at the third film, “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse,” starts off the second disk. Interviews with the cast and crew pepper what is essentially an extended trailer for “Eclipse,” an unexciting one at that. Good thing the rest of the disc has some substance:
The highlight of the special features is the six-part documentary about the film’s production.

This hour-long look behind the scenes tackles everything from stunt doubles to wardrobe to how the crew rebuilt Bella’s house to include a convenient bay window.
Otherwise, the other extras offer little in the way of new content:

The “Edward Goes to Italy” video is a tourism special for Montepulciano, Italy, and a collection of music videos from the film’s soundtrack aren’t that exciting – just the usual moody clip show.

The rest of the second disc shamelessly plays up the “Team Jacob/Team Edward” battle. The “Becoming Jacob” featurette is just an excuse to show off Lautner’s torso and exercise regimen.

The DVD’s most indulgent offerings are the Edward and Jacob “Fast-Forwards.” The DVD’s planners smartly predicted that many “Twilight” fans are going to skip forward to Jacob or Edward scenes – so they took the liberty of pulling out all of Lautner and Pattinson’s scenes, so viewers can sit back and watch their personal brand of beefcake without ever having to hit “fast-forward” on their remotes.

Contact Jordan Gamble at [email protected]