By Jen Chaney
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, March 15, 2010; 2:53 PM
Let's be honest about "The Twilight Saga: New Moon." Anyone who cares only marginally about the story of a teen girl (Kristen Stewart) torn between her vampire lover (Robert Pattinson) and her nice, buff werewolf buddy (Taylor Lautner) will likely find much of this movie -- out on DVD ($32.99) and Blu-ray ($34.99) this Saturday, promptly at the stroke of midnight -- a little silly.
But of course, what one viewer might find ridiculous (all the melodrama, the perpetual need to show us Lautner's rippling abs) is nothing short of pure beauty in the eyes of a Twi-hard, a fan so devoted to Stephenie Meyers' novels and their subsequent film adaptations that she frequently dreams of someday, somehow, marrying into the bloodthirsty-yet-civilized Cullen family.
Those Bella Swan-wannabes should be pleased with the special-edition of "New Moon," which features the film -- a definite step-up from the first "Twilight" in terms of visual allure and production values -- and a couple of choice extras, most notably a compelling, six-part documentary about the making of the movie and a happily laidback commentary track from director Chris Weitz and editor Peter Lambert. Both Borders and Walmart are selling their own exclusive editions of the "New Moon" release that feature additional content, including extended scenes and, in Walmart's case, a sneak peek at the next movie, "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse," material that frankly should have been included on the more widely available discs.
As frustrating as those omissions are, however, that hour-long documentary almost makes up for them. "The Journey Continues" admittedly gets off to a shaky start, bogged down in too many interviews with cast members either wearing spooky-colored contact lenses or lavishing praise on Weitz. ("He's one of the most compassionate human beings I've ever met," says Stewart. Barf.) Once the focus moves to the production, though, things improve considerably. Even non-"New Moon" fans will admire all the behind-the-scenes detail, from shots of Stewart and Pattinson fighting off mosquitoes during a crucial break-up scene to footage of Stewart's stunt double, Laura Lee Connery, taking a leap off a 70-foot-high building, a jump that will magically morph into Bella's dramatic plunge off a staggeringly high cliff during the film.
As it happens, "The Journey Continues" isn't the only "Twilight" documentary debuting this week. Another DVD -- "Twilight in Forks: The Saga of the Real Town" ($19.99) -- also arrives in an attempt to both explore the history of the Washington state setting where "Twilight" takes place, and make even more money off of Edward-Cullen obsessives desperate for anything remotely related to the vampire saga.
"Twilight in Forks" is a bit sloppy from a filmmaking perspective; at 84 minutes, the doc drags at times, especially when sources repeat the same information multiple times. But tread through that and you'll find a genuinely interesting story about a tiny timber town that boasts just one stoplight and no Barnes & Noble, but has found a new identity (and a touch of economic salvation) thanks to the rabid, squealing fans who regularly trek here to pay homage to bloodsuckers in love.
In 2006, 6,000 people passed through the Forks visitor's center, the film tells us. During the first half of 2009 alone, 23,700 people from all over the world traveled here, many of them eager to go on the "Twilight" tour or visit the myriad "Twilight" shops that residents have astutely created to capitalize on the attention.
"There is not a place you can find that somebody hasn't come from," says Marcia Bingham of the Forks Chamber of Commerce. "Except Greenland. We've had nobody from Greenland."
John Hunter, a science teacher at Forks High School and one of many locals interviewed during the movie, describes the impact of the "Twilight" spotlight this way: "It was kind of like waking up and realizing you're teaching at Hogwarts."
Yes, some fans are profiled here, too, including a few who admit they moved to Forks because of their "Twilight" obsession. Which may sound a little weird. But to me, it's further proof that this community of ardent Edward admirers is filled with just as many fascinating characters as the "Twilight" books and movies themselves.