“You’d sacrifice your life for one of us?”
You know it’s pretty bad when the second film of a ‘saga’ can have absolutely no resolution, literally start and end without adding anything to the tale but a bridge to link the first to the third, and yet be more entertaining than the original. Twilight worked for me—mostly because I never read the books to realize how stupid it will all end up—due to its romance and freshness of that aspect in a vampire drama. Usually, the genre would be all blood, fangs, and death, but that one stayed true to its premise and appealed to me for it despite being a rather dull entry. New Moon, however, ratcheted up the action and darkness and while seeming to work towards a conclusion of dire consequence that would make me want more, it ends with a huge whimper. More a build up to the next installment than anything that could stand on its own two feet, it did at least give me a glimpse of things I can get behind, like the Volturi for example, but also a foreshadowing of the Romeo and Juliet-lite I so fear. Why do teenage girls and middle-aged women soak this ham-fisted true love drivel up so easily?
It is definitely a more dynamic film visually than the first, something I attribute to director Chris Weitz. He adds some nice flair to the proceedings with some inventive camerawork and cool special effects. The fight sequences were somewhat stunning as a result, utilizing the motion blur of these superhumans’ speed as artistic flourishes, speeding up and slowing down when one body slams the other into the ground. A new level of enjoyment is brought in just by the inclusion of the werewolves that were only alluded to in the first, their animation much better in context than the trailer made them appear. Watching those advertisements, and seeing Jacob phase into the cute little furry wolf-dog, made me smile at the absurdity of it all, realizing just how corny the filmmakers have gone. Not only do we have vampires that sparkle like diamonds in the sun, but we also have werewolves that you’d want to take home for a pet. Fortunately, when we see these beasts in scale with humans and vampires, you get to accept how formidable they are.
Again, though, besides introducing the audience to these new creatures on the block, New Moon does nothing to call itself a film. They try to make it so a love triangle exists, making Edward leave and almost kill himself when hearing Bella has died, showing his love for her that we all knew was there, and allowing Jacob to be her knight in shining armor. But even when these two new lovebirds are together, they never kiss or show any signs that they have formed a relationship; Bella would pine over Edward forever, and when she tells her wolf friend not to make her choose because it would always be the bloodsucker, you just sit there in the audience smacking your forehead wondering why you had to sit through two hours of film to be told something you already know. It begins with Bella and Edward in love and Jacob on the fringe looking in, hoping to make his move, untrusting of the Cullen clan’s treaty that they would never bite another human, and surprise, it ends that way.
Oh, lets not forget Victoria, the evil vampire on the prowl for vengeance. We get to catch fleeting glimpses of her return to town, but see no danger at all, once more serving to only foreshadow the next two books. Throughout the entire work, the only stakes lie in the Volturi, a group of vampiric royalty who uphold all the rules in their world. Finally there is some creepiness instilled into the otherwise CW-esque escapades of the pretty people trying to love and be loved in return. The always-wonderful Michael Sheen plays Aro, a formidable creature whose power allows him to be a bit cavalier in attitude. Able to read the minds of all living things—except Bella oddly enough, strangely familiar to “True Blood” fans—he has his underlings do his dirty work while two equals sit in their thrones to chime in every once in a while with monotone declarations. The scene that posits the Cullens against them is by far the most entertaining moment of this film, so good I thought it might go somewhere much darker or at least be overshadowed by a bigger climatic moment later on. It isn’t to be, though, all that fear-inducing evil at the hands of Sheen and Dakota Fanning’s Jane, (not to mention the mute Cameron Bright who hopefully gets more work next time out), only leads to the lame finale full of high school love and the inevitable decision about Edward and Bella’s future.
And why is it that Taylor Lautner’s Jacob is so much cooler than Robert Pattinson’s Edward, yet Kristen Stewart’s Bella will have none of it? Is the age thing really as important as they make it seem, driving it down our throats for much of the film? So, Bella is two years older than Jacob, whoa, what a crazy age gap. The girl is ninety years younger than her boy toy who—as a friend of mine likes to say—acts as though he is the sixteen year old. The guy sparkles, looks anorexic, and is just plain creepy to look at whereas his werewolf counterpart somehow put on sixty pounds of muscle in less than a year, protects humanity from the predatory vampires, and is kind of a badass if you look past the forlorn look he has when a temper tantrum of love bubbles to the surface. I want more of the raucous fun these Native American changelings have and less of the dour melodrama that always follows those Cullens around. Hopefully more Volturi in Eclipse means more fighting with speed versus strength; I actually really want to see what Fanning’s telepathic powers might have in store too. But, honestly, as long as Ashley Greene is in these films, I’ll watch them. More Alice is my battle cry.
The Twilight Saga: New Moon 4/10 | ★ ½
 KRISTEN STEWART stars as Bella Swan and TAYLOR LAUTNER stars as Jacob Black in THE TWILIGHT SAGA: NEW MOON. Photo Credit: Kimberley French All Images © 2009 Summit Entertainment, LLC. All rights reserved.
 DAKOTA FANNING stars as Jane in THE TWILIGHT SAGA: NEW MOON. Photo Credit: Kimberley French All Images © 2009 Summit Entertainment, LLC. All rights reserved.