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The Twilight Saga: New Moon

The Twilight Saga: New Moon

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3.5 out of 5

NEW Moon, the second movie instalment of Stephenie Meyer’s popular teen vampire novels, is a crowd-pleasing successor to Twilight that ticks all the right boxes in suitably efficient fashion.

With bigger effects, a broader story and a new director in Chris Weitz, the film has eschewed the indie aesthetic behind Catherine Hardwicke’s ultra-successful original in favour of some more rudimentary elements befitting a blockbuster franchise.

Hence, while the dark tones that make Meyer’s novels so addictive remain intact, there’s higher emphasis placed on popcorn elements with a noticeably beefed up soundtrack, as well as leading men, serving to heighten the film’s commercial appeal.

Picking up in the aftermath of Twilight, New Moon commences as the romance between vampire Edward (Robert Pattinson) and student Bella (Kristen Stewart) hits a stumbling block that prompts the former to distance himself in a bid to allow her to lead a normal, danger-free life.

Distraught, Bella drifts into depression and begins to take increasing risks with her life, until she finds solace in the arms of Jacob (Taylor Lautner), a dirtbike enthusiast with the obvious hots for her.

But as Jacob’s own dark secrets are slowly revealed and Bella learns that Edward intends to sacrifice himself to some ruling vampires in Italy, she’s faced with a desperate race against time as well as some difficult decisions.

To be fair, when dealing with the main thrust of Meyer’s story, Weitz’s film is an exciting entry into the series that arguably plays out best for those who haven’t read the books (and therefore don’t know what’s coming).

The special effects are impressive, especially during the werewolf transformations, while the increased emotional complexity of the story is nicely developed.

Performance-wise, too, the film continues to benefit from the presence of Stewart as Bella, whose nuanced delivery channels grief, anger, uncertainty, selfishness and vulnerability well.

She may not always be a likeable heroine but Stewart ensures she remains a fully rounded flesh and blood human being.

Pattinson, while absent for long periods, continues to brood manfully, while Lautner eventually comes of age on-screen as his character finds his place in the world.

The love triangle between them is one worth sinking your teeth into, providing the film with its emotional thrust.

As good as such components are, though, New Moon does let itself down on occasion by adhering to a few too many popcorn elements.

Numerous and gratuitous shots of Jacob’s six-pack are cheesy and unintentionally hilarious at times, while the soundtrack delivers one too many MTV moments that feel designed to boost record sales rather than drive the story.

The first half of the film gets a little too bogged down in Bella’s depression and drags proceedings well past the two hour mark.

And Michael Sheen’s belated appearance as the leader of the Volturi feels unnecessarily camp when a little more menace would have benefited.

But such niggles will do little to quell cinema-goers’ insatiable lust for all things Twilight and don’t really detract from the overall enjoyment of the movie.

As sequels go, this is far more satisfying than most and deserving of its box office status. Weitz even manages to pull off the difficult trick of making the prospect of the third movie, Eclipse, feel like an appealing prospect… especially as we’re promised that things will become even darker still!

Certificate: 12A
Running time: 2hrs 11mins
UK DVD & Blu-ray Release: March 22, 2010