A review of The Twilight Saga: New Moon is pretty moot as die-hard fans won't listen and newcomers are pretty set already on whether this would interest them or not. Either way, as someone who only read the first of Stephanie Meyer's books in this series and was only swayed into enjoying Twilight on DVD, I might not have been the best person to see this. Is New Moon better than Twilight, no? But it will deliver on fan expectations and keep them on their toes till the next chapter.
After a birthday dinner goes wrong, vampire Edward (Robert Pattinson) decides to move with his family away from his true love Bella (Kristen Stewart). Left all alone with no way to reach him, Bella discovers she can get a fleeting glimpse of him when doing dangerous things. As she becomes more of an adrenaline junkie it allows her to become closer to Jacob (Taylor Launter), who is going through his own “transformations” as a werewolf. When Edward suspects Bella's dead she has to race to his side before he exposes his secret to the world, and brings down the wrath of the Volturi. At the same time Bella's grappling with wanting to be a vampire will place her at odds with Jacob, and change her life forever.
I can't say how closely this sticks to the novel as I never read it, but coming in at a little over two hours this movie is pretty comprehensive! Opening with Edward moving you see Bella attempt to move on and become a daredevil, her burgeoning romance with Jacob, and her trip to Italy and meeting with the Volturi. There's really something for every fan of the novel, Jacob gets double the screen time he received in the first film so his following will be pleased. Fans of the vampire genre in general will enjoy the brief time with the Volturi, the vampire royal family so to speak, that control the actions of the entire race. In the small time they get in the film they're seen as magnanimous and deadly, more than willing to kill whoever they have to keep a secret. They also are a bit tickled by humans and their mortal traits as evidenced by head vampire Aro (Michael Sheen) and his disturbing interactions with Bella. The romance with Jacob is pretty lengthy but it's a sweet love story that should hold the teen audience captive. The CGI wolves are also pretty well-done although they might come off as too gigantic. For some reason wolves are hard to make convincing in film but New Moon doesn't use them for too long, giving them the right percentage of realism.
In terms of acting the older actors are by far the best. Holding what could be seen as cameos, Michael Sheen and Dakota Fanning steal the film as Aro and Jane, respectively. Sheen comes off like a Venetian lord in looks and demeanor and plays the role both humorous and menacing. Fanning has about three lines but plays up the evil well, especially when contrasting it with her past work. Supposedly these characters are going to get more plot in the later film, here's hoping because you remember them long after they're gone. Launter is a good-looking kid and plays Jacob with a lot of heart and charm. He's not boring or overly cliche like Pattinson, he's just a nice, normal boy who happens to be a werewolf.
The main problems with New Moon plagued Twilight and the novels in general. They're Harlequin romance novels for teenagers in a sense, and fans of vampire novels or film in general have already decided whether that's for them. Bella is more of a doormat in this film than in the last, quite frankly she's a terrible role model for young women. A two month montage has her not moving from a window, clothes and hair exactly the same, because Edward is gone. Apparently Meyer was trying to say that if your man leaves you, might as well give up on life. In terms of story the movie is highly disjointed. You're introduced to everyone from the first film, then Pattinson leaves for at least two hours, not returning till the final 30 minutes. Fans of the source material will say that's because his character doesn't figure in this book, but the way it's filmed is very abrupt. Kristen Stewart's voice overs are annoying and unnecessary, merely saying cliche words to enhance the mood. The writing itself is cliche and stupid, Edward says overly sappy and romantic things about loving Bella because she's breathing and the like. While it's meant to make girls swoon, anyone who has seen a romantic comedy or lived life will guffaw. The Volturi, the most interesting aspect of the franchise so far, are wasted in a few thankless scenes. It might have been better to ignore them entirely in this book and place them in the next movie. Victoria was also pointless, making a single appearance in a chase scene. Those two elements were incredibly riveting and fantastic, but it was obvious they were only there to appease purists.
The rest of the cast is flat and wooden. Robert Pattinson has no range whatsoever in this role, merely saying the lines and looking pained. A major issue with his character is that for some reason he always needs to walk in slow motion with his hair rippling in the breeze. This happens at least 2 times in the movie and after awhile you're rolling in your seat expecting “Edward Cullen theme music.” Kristen Stewart still acts like a cardboard cut-out and here it's worse since she actually has to emote, most of that is through screaming in the middle of the night. Launter never owns a shirt and really that is a major hit to his credibility as it seems obvious it was meant to show off that he bulked up for this role. He's walking through the rain in Washington without a shirt, yeah he gains some respect all right.
Twilight had the potential to be a strong franchise for teenagers. Instead it's a vomited Romeo and Juliet rehash with weak characters and this movie exacerbates those problems tenfold. The plot is all over the place and staggered, the actors are incredibly bland and it's purely about eye candy. This is a rental at best, maybe then I'll enjoy it more. The Twilight Saga: New Moon gets a 2.5/5.