The Twilight Saga: New Moon Review

Bella and Edward having survived last year’s Twilight, is a typical dreamy high school couple, except Edward is a vampire. Bella has become 18. She is having terrible nightmares of her getting old while Edward retains his veneer of youth. She wants more than ever to be “turned”, but Edward doesn’t want her to be a monster. At her birthday party given by the Cullen’s, Edward's vampire family, Bella accidentally cuts her finger. The blood drives his brother Jasper into attack mode. With his vampire strength he hurls Bella across the room causing more of her blood to flow. Good thing Carlisle (leader of these non-human eating vamps) is a doctor, otherwise she would have been dinner. Edward realizes that he is dangerous for Bella and the only way to keep her safe is to get out of her life.

So sets up the turmoil in this adaptation of the second book in Stephenie Meyers' Twilight Saga. This is two hours of Bella wallowing in depression, angst, and longing. Bummed beyond belief, Bella becomes zombie-like just going through the motions of life. She barely communicates with her old friends. She wakes screaming in the night. And her father is at his wit's end. He wants to send her to Florida to be with her mother but Bella refuses. Anyone else would have taken the girl to therapy.

Never one to make good decisions, Bella tempts fate by accepting a ride on a motorcycle where she sees a vision of Edward telling her not to be reckless. She also discovers that she likes the adrenalin rush and that burst of danger that makes her “see” Edward. So what if he’s telling her it’s wrong. If that’s the only way she’s going to see him, she’s going to put herself in harms way. She gets two badly used motor bikes and brings them to her friend Jacob to help her fix them on the Quileute reservation. Spending time with her good friend makes Bella feel almost human again. Jacob promises to always stay by Bella, that is until he discovers his recent burst of muscle and height is due to the latent gene inherent in some members of his tribe that turns them into werewolves. Suddenly, he’s avoiding his BFF Bella. She’s already in a fragile state and having Jacob abandon her is more than she can bare. On top of all this, vengeful vampire Victoria sends Laurent to spy on Bella and find out if the Cullens are still offering their protection. Except now, as Bella discovers, she is protected by werewolves.

Having lost Jacob and Edward, Bella decides to cliff dive into the cold pacific waters so she can see her lost love hallucination. Jacob saves her and tells her about his new secret identity. When she gets home she finds Edward’s sister, Alice waiting. She had a vision of Bella diving, and thought she died. Unfortunately, Jacob misleads Edward and now Bella's vamp love is off to Italy and the Volturi, the ruling vampire family to end his life. They refuse to kill him and lose his special gift of mind reading, so Edward plans to expose his sparkly, glittering flesh to the world on the towns’ annual festival to celebrate the end of vampires. Ironic, no? Bella keeps him from doing something stupid, but not without getting the Volturi’s attention. They are intrigued by her ability to be unaffected by the various vampire talents, and is saved from death by Alice’s foresight that Bella will soon join the family. The Cullens promise to turn her after she graduates, but if any of the them bite her it will end the treaty between the cold ones and the wolves.

Working with a bigger budget, director Chris Weitz (The Golden Compass and About A Boy) ably handles the special effects most effectively. The wolves are quite magnificent. Unfortunately the film drags on interminably while Bella whines about her poor pitiful fate. Kristen Stewart, who is usually good at portraying the uncomfortable stages of teen-hood, mumbles most of her lines. Robert Pattinson stares with those bedroom eyes and lets his hair do his emoting. As a couple, they don’t seem to spend a lot of time just having fun. They are so serious.

Standing out in all this is Taylor Lautner as Jacob. His scenes with Bella are touching and earnest. It was fortunate that he kept his job by packing on the extra weight adding very cut arms and abs. Through the use of FX, like in Lord of the Rings, they made Jacob seem taller as he is featured in the book. At times it seemed inconsistent. The young tweens (and maybe some older ones, too) squealed in delight every time the wolf back pulled off those shirts.

The introduction of the Volturi fared well with A-List actors like Michael Sheen as Aro - who can see everything about you by touch and Dakota Fanning as Jane - the wielder of great pain just by thinking about it. Jane’s red eyes are absolutely spooky. The next movies will feature this family in what will hopefully be an epic battle.

New Moon suffers from being that story in the middle that leads to all the action that happens in the subsequent novels. It just wets the appetite for more storyline in the next adventure. This is not a stand alone movie. You have to watch Twilight first and pretty much be a fan of the books. It didn’t help that the projector at this screening was dirty and made the film seem dingy and dark. So if you went to the Wednesday night advanced screening, go see it the way it’s supposed to be. Score one for Team Jacob.