Friday, November 20, 2009

Twilight Saga: New Moon review

My review of New Moon appears online at

Vampires love necking. Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson star in The Twilight Saga: New Moon.

Vampires love necking. Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson star in The Twilight Saga: New Moon.

Credit: Supplied

The Twilight Saga: New Moon

Starring Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner
Directed by Chris Weitz

A sequel is rarely better than its predecessor, but new blood, new bodies, and the relative absence of Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) make this second installment of the Twilight Saga a marked improvement over the first.

New Moon picks up where Twilight left off. Moody and broody vampire Edward is professing his eternal love for the equally besotted high-school senior — and mortal — Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart). Thankfully, the declarations of devotion (it seems every sentence was lifted from a 14-year-old girl’s diary) only last a few minutes before Edward decides the only way to keep Bella safe from harm (that is, his family’s blood-lust and his own brute strength) is to abandon her — so that the vampires who swore revenge in the first film can come back to try to kill her like they promised. Yes, logic is a limited commodity, it seems, in the Twilight world.

Lonely and depressed, Bella turns to her friend, Jacob (Taylor Lautner), and there’s some lovely chemistry between the two as they forge a friendship that presses the “Will they or won’t they?” question, which is interrupted when Jacob pulls an Edward and tells Bella to stay away from him for her safety because he’s now a werewolf and part of a secret wolf pack. That doesn’t really deter Bella, though, since she has a new addiction to danger, But when Edward mistakenly believes Bella has died, he goes to the Volturi, the leaders of the entire vampire race, and begs them to end his life. Bella rushes to save him, and they’re forced to fight against head honcho Aro (a wonderfully campy Michael Sheen).

Though the storyline and dialogue are woefully inept, new director Chris Weitz brings a measure of sophistication to New Moon. A bigger budget certainly helps (particularly with regard to the CGI effects), and it’s to his credit that New Moon feels like a real big-screen event, and not just a movie of the week from the Sci-Fi channel.

Stewart is a good actress who’s often relegated to expressing Bella in one of two ways: quivering breaths to signal distress or saucy defiance to show rebellion. Lautner is charming and proves he’s more than just eye candy, though he spends much of New Moon showing off his crazy new physique (when not in full snarling, furry fury, his wardrobe mostly consists of cut-off jean shorts and that’s it). Pattinson, who’s out of his acting league next to Stewart and Lautner, isn’t given much to do except smoulder and glower. Amusingly, he’s filmed almost exclusively in either slow motion or whip-fast fight sequences.

At 140 minutes, New Moon does start to wane during the last half hour — incidentally, when the vampire action kicks into high gear. The fangs just aren’t sharp enough this time around, but the canine claws prove this franchise has a few hidden pleasures in its cheesy, Harlequin-lite depths. ★★

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