Director: Chris Weitz
Cast: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Billy Burke, Ashley Greene, Michael Sheen, Dakota Fanning, Peter Facinelli
The hype is back. And it's stronger than ever.
A year ago, teen moviegoers were going crazy over Twilight, the film adaptation of Stephenie Meyer's bestselling novel about a girl who falls in love with a vampire. It's a phenomenon that would rival Harry Potter, and it turned Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson into overnight darlings.
The new moon now rises. Stewart and Pattinson are back with almost everyone from the first film, and a new adventure begins. By the way, you wouldn't believe the amount of attention New Moon got and is still getting, from the pre-release buzz up to now. Everyone wants to know if the two onscreen lovebirds are dating offscreen, and Taylor Lautner, who plays Jacob Black, is getting a lot of limelight himself now that he's seeing Taylor Swift. Oh, wow. Isn't this exci...OK, let's not talk about that.
New Moon begins rather interestingly with a dream sequence, where Bella sees herself grow old as Edward stays young. She's still adamant about wanting to be a vampire in order to be able to stay with Edward forever.
The Cullens throw Bella a birthday party, and all goes well until Bella accidentally cuts her finger. Before you can even smell the blood, Jasper, Edward's younger brother and newest to the vegetarian vampire lifestyle, goes into a frenzy, forcing Edward to take action. The Cullens stop Jasper from causing any harm, but the damage is done.
Edward feels guilty over the incident, and wanting to keep Bella safe, decides to leave town with his family permanently. Bella is now alone, heartbroken and in serious grief. She spends her time staring out her window and screaming in her sleep. Time passes and she finally finds solace in her best friend Jacob, who tries to fill the void Edward left behind. He becomes her rock and shoulder to cry on, but Bella cannot bring herself to feel for him the same way she feels for Edward, even after Jacob reveals his secret to her. He is part of a family of werewolves who transform into their feral state when provoked. Things get complicated further when Alice, Edward's sister returns with grave news.....
This film is directed by Chris Weitz, who gave us the ambitious yet slightly dull The Golden Compass. Here he brings that similar style once more, where extensive yet unnecessarily detailed storytelling takes form. Unlike Twilight, where Catherine Hardwicke used dim lighting and grey hues to give a cloudy and misty feel, Weitz makes his film mostly golden brown on screen. Thus New Moon looks like summer most of the time. Which is okay, but Weitz chooses to tell this story like a book, which is full of dramatic dialogue concerning life, death, love, secrets and all that jazz.
This is the Achilles heel of the film. The lines. Stewart, Pattinson and Lautner are all forced to say lines that would work in the book, but sound really corny on celluloid; lines like "You're my only reason to stay alive" or "It's like a big hole has been punched through my chest" or "I won't ever hurt you, I promise" etc. This is like George Lucas' brand of romantic lines from Star Wars all over again. And we get to hear lots of this, in the middle third of the film, with Stewart leading the way. She actually does a decent job as Bella despite the awful dialogue given to her. I know most critics hated her performance, but it's not her fault if the screenwriter wants her to look like a lovesick teenager in desperate need of a man. Pattinson continues to look constantly constipated, and I think it's even more obvious now than in Twilight. Lautner gets a bigger role this time, and he gets to be the hunky guy with the muscles that the female fans will no doubt drool over.
My interest lies more in the supporting cast. Ashley Greene gets a bit more screentime to play the free spirited Alice, and she doesn't disappoint. Peter Facinelli gets less time as Cullen patriarch Carlisle, which is unfortunate, for his character is quite fascinating to watch. Michael Sheen and Dakota Fanning don't get much screentime as members of the Volturi, the vampire royals who enforce vampire law, but nevertheless make themselves memorable. I do hope they will return for the next instalment. Also look out for a welcome appearance by veteran Native American actor Graham Greene, who plays a friend of Bella's father.
In the end though, New Moon just isn't as concise as Twilight, and drags quite a bit before things pick up in the final third of the film. By then, your patience may well have run out.
I would like to see how Eclipse, the next instalment turns out when it comes to us in June, especially since it's going to be directed by David Slade, the man behind the dark vampire horror flick 30 Days Of Night. (3.5/5)