For thousands of zealous teens the wait is finally over. Lovers of Stephenie Meyer’s four ‘Twilight’ novels and the first film of the franchise have waited over a year for the sequel - ‘New Moon’ has finally arrived. Hot bods, action, melodrama and unrealistic romance... Under Chris Weitz’s direction there is plenty to appeal to audiences but, more importantly, it's exactly what Twilighters have been waiting to sink their teeth into.
With little explanation of the backstory, 'New Moon' picks up where the original left off. Bella (Stewart) has completely recovered from James’ vampire attack and is celebrating her 18th birthday when an accident leads her to spill more blood. Convinced they are endangering her life, the Cullens leave Washington's Fork and a distraught Bella grieves for Edward (Pattinson) for months before recovering through a burgeoning friendship with a buffed-up Jacob Black (Lautner). Following the lead perfectly laid out by the master storyteller, Meyer references Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’ in her bid to tease out the dangers that lie ahead for her equally pure, yet troubled, romance.
Staying loyal to the book and ‘Twilight’s legions of fans, ‘New Moon’ brings us to Italy where Bella witnesses firsthand that even the immortal vampires have to answer to someone. That someone is Aro (a great turn by Sheen), the leader of the Volturi, the vampire governing body. The scenes that ensue provide largely unnecessary and hammy drama - an excuse for Weitz to flex his action muscles.
Catherine Hardwicke’s adaptation of Meyer’s first novel kept the focus on the intense young love story with enough complexities to keep audiences hooked. Weitz, though, has upped the stakes (please excuse) for his turn, roping in such heavyweights as ‘Vicky Christina Barcelona’ cinematographer Javier Aguirresarobe and ‘The Queen’s Oscar-nominated composer Alexandre Desplat. However, while the result is more polished, the love story suffers.
In the book the main focus is on a broody, moody Bella, which would have made for less interesting viewing than Weitz’s interpretation, where key characters are invited back into the mix. Edward is still noticeably absent for the bulk of the film with Bella at the centre of an unconvincing love triangle where the key obsession is everyone promising to protect each other. She has the pick of the two hottest guys in the village - the pale-but-interesting vampire Edward or the hunky, hot blooded and bodied Jacob. However, a lack of chemistry with Lautner is a clear indication of what's to come. Listen closely and you can just about hear the faint cracking of a young heart long before Bella delivers her decision.
On screen for most of the 130 minutes, Stewart has completely grown into the role of Bella, delivering whatever each scene demands and the 19-year-old is certainly an actress to keep an eye on.
As for realism, it’s a teenage vampire fantasy - safe to say that you can park any such expectation at the front door. That covers Bella’s dad never knowing where his daughter is, the spooky coincidences, the super-fast US to Europe round-trip and pretty much the whole premise. The melodrama does get a little grating, especially when one of the lovers breaks their sweet nothing promises before they’ve even finished making them. Although all adult giggles and guffaws will no doubt be met with equally fervent teen adulation.
The dialogue is not without its humorous moments, not quite side-splitting but entertaining nonetheless, as is the frequent, fast-paced action. The film closes by setting the stage perfectly for ‘Eclipse’, which is already in pre-production. So let the next countdown begin.