CW originally left GC because he was afraid of all the CGI and special effects work, he wasn't afraid he could handle it, but he spent a few weeks on location with Peter Jackson while he was filming something and learned a bunch and eventually returned and, visually speaking, created one of the most impressive special effects laden movies ever. I mean, a believable talking Polar Bear (okay okay, panserbjorne, or however you spell it, XD) I'm very hopeful he will make the special effects in Twilight light years above what they were under Hardwicke's watch.
It didn't help that the original version of his story was butchered by having scenes entirely thrown onto the editing room floor, taken out of order, edited to mask details of the set, and completely restructured. Parts of the original movie can be seen as videos in the official video game and also in the trailer, but as of yet they have no restored the original ending (which was entirely cut off thanks to it confusing stupid test audiences), nor have they restored the original scenes. In the the book it goes like this: lyra is captured and taken to Goblers, then she escapes and while traveling north falls out of the air balloon and into the bears hands. after restoring iorek as king of the bears, she goes to her fathers and eventually she is separated from iorek while crossing a narrow ice bridge to save her friend roger. in the movie version they lopped the entire ending off, so they took the ice bridge sequence, changed it to day using digital filters, then flipped the order of events so it goes like this. she gets captured, they take her to the *bears* (this makes NO SENSE), she helps iorek become king (in a much cleaner version of the battle, no heart eating), then while walking with iorek gets seperated at an ice bridge (taken from end) and wanderes in alone to the gobler's hideout. then they re-edited the original footage to look like it was the true end when in reality she falls out of the air balloon during that scene as it occurred much earlier.
all of this was New Line's execs editing against Chris's will and considering it takes up a good half the movie, is the reason why most found it confusing, rushed, and trash. the seperation at the bridge has a lot of emotional impact in the original order when placed in sequence, in the movie it just seems oddly sentimental and awkward. Chris fought and fought to have the original book version released, but when the movie didn't do well domestically, the studio pretty much blamed him and its a closed book (although it made over 300 million from foreign sales and is considered a huge success in the foreign market).
as for what this means for New Moon....
as long as Summit plays nice and allows Chris to weave his vision I can't help but shake with anticipation at what we will see. Visually, the first movie was amazingly appealing, and I read that that was largely due to the director of photography's vision and not Hardwicke's. So combining her and Chris.....I can't help but smile....so Summit, I just hope they stay quiet and let the people do the job's they were hired for
;;end rant;; sorry for rambling hahaha.