Review: ‘The Twilight Saga: New Moon’

For pity’s sake, direct-to-video cheerleading competition films have more genuine intrigue than this.

In our continuing ‘tween story with Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) still pestering Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) to become an immortal, an unfortunate set of circumstances again causes Edward to run away, this time breaking ties permanently (or at least until the happy ending.) While giving mixed signals to a newly-buff Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner), Bella learns that risking life and limb (aka being foolish) allows her to glimpse her lost Edward. And then there’s something about vampire laws, the Volturi in Italy, and Jacob getting dissed before the happy ending until the next installment.

The first film was tolerable, but the sequel borrows more than creates and doesn’t do much with it. Aside from the are-they-or-aren’t-they aspect of finding silly ways to keep the main characters apart, better-man Jacob should recognize Bella as damaged goods by now and let the vampires eat her. Then there’s the whole tacked-on Volturi thing (because every great vampire saga must have an inept council of bloodsuckers, even through the author reportedly has never read or seen any.) In any case, the computer-generated wolves are the real star of this film, conservation of mass and real-world physics be damned.

One thing that seems to haunt the Twilight saga are two-dimensional characterizations. Pick any character and it seems like they have one expression stuck to their face. Bella? Sullen. Jacob? Hopeful. Alice? Twisted. Only Edward himself seems to have more than one look, either “emo, about to cry” Edward or that “I’m so cool, you silly human” Edward smirk. For a ‘tween supernatural soap opera, you’d expect these characters to have something resembling depth. Not having read the books to see if there’s anything more to draw from, what’s on screen seems pretty flat.

What’s sad is how many good actors and actresses are in this film. To pick a favorite, how about Ashley Greene’s Alice Cullen? Empowered to see possible futures, she’s also slightly twisted but in a good way (and far easier to stomach than Bella’s constant pining.) Where the first film drew on the not-so-surprising revelation that vampires exist, the sequel fails to even conjure up that much originality. Fine, I know I’m not the target audience, but somewhere under this amateur act is a little actual potential, and it seems a shame not to take advantage of it in favor of a “good enough, now show me the money” filmmaking mentality.

(a two skull recommendation out of four)

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