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New Moon Print E-mail
Written by Ivan Radford   
Friday, 20 November 2009 22:28
Director: Chris Weitz
Cast: Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, Taylor Lautner
Certificate: 12A

It's been 12 months since the last onslaught of pale-faced emoting emo teens, but just in case the thousands who flocked to the first Twilight film have developed some pigmentation in their skin, here comes its bigger, even more emo sequel. Clocking in at 130 minutes, New Moon gives its giddy groupies plenty of time to sit in the dark and pine. Oh, the pain of it all.

"It feels like someone's punched a hole in my stomach," whines Bella Swan (Stewart) after Edward Cullen (Pattinson) abandons her for her own safety. Maybe he should have actually punched her a new abdomen. That would stop her endless moping. The thing is, he's a vampire (supposedly the most perfect male ever created) and she's just human. So when a paper cut leads to his family's thirst at her 18th birthday party, Edward decides to take flight - not literally, sadly. He uses most of his superpowers up by being ridiculously good looking.

Left behind in rainy old Forks, Bella's heart is broken. And so along comes Jacob (Lautner) to put it back together. But Humpty Dumpty he ain't: in case you haven't worked it out, Jacob's a werewolf. So are all his Native American Quileute tribe mates. Which explains why they all run around the woods in the buff. Apparently.

"I'm sorry," says Bella after banging her hand post-motorcycle ride, a minor scratch on her face. "You're apologising for bleeding?" asks Jacob, before whipping his t-shirt off to cover her tiny scar. New Moon is peppered with such tidbits, often involving Jacob's topless body. Chris Weitz may be new to the series, but he knows what the fangirls want. No matter how many top ten singles he can cram on the soundtrack (that's a lot, by the way), nothing can drown out their screams of desire. It's hard to fathom why - neither males are particularly attractive, with or without their tops on.

Still, Bella and Jacob grow closer and their emotions get a bit messy, making a love triangle that will continue throughout Stephenie Meyer's fanged franchise. Faithfully adapting the text for the screen, Melissa Rosenberg retains much of Meyer's writing. Sadly, that includes the rambling, uneven pace. Wading through waves of angst and worry, New Moon is one weighty watch.

It's made lighter through some comic touches in a cinema and the brilliant Billy Burke as Bella's dad. But balancing Twihards with non-fans is a tough act. And so we get the odd chunk of ropey exposition ("Jasper, quit it with the mood control thing!" exclaims Bella, before never mentioning Jasper's superpower again for the whole movie). Developing the doomed romance of the first novel is a difficult task; introducing a whole new world of woe works to an extent, but there's none of the tightness of Twilight. Instead, the script pauses too often as it builds unnaturally to its climax.

They like pausing, these kids. Breathing, sighing, staring meaningfully into each other's eyes - if Pinter had a hormonal cousin who wrote bad poetry, this would be it. Pale as ever, Pattinson is mostly absent from the film and does that quite well. Lautner, co-starring with his brand new six-pack, makes for a likeable lupine replacement (despite some dodgy CGI and kid-friendly transformations). In the lead, Kristen Stewart's trembling lips and uneven gasps are still strongly convincing. Even if she does occasionally confuse acting with blinking.

But king of the colour-drained cast is Michael Sheen, whose brief appearance as Aro, head (and chief lawmaker) of the vampire race, is a wonderfully camp and eerie turn. All smiles and glinting eyes, he hungrily devours the scenery like an undead Tony Blair. It's a great pay-off after two fairly slow hours. But nothing can prepare you for the film's hilariously awful final line. It's almost as bad as a dream sequence in which we see Edward and Bella skipping in slow-motion through a meadow. Now there's a reason to sit in a darkened room for the next 12 months.


A cluttered sequel, New Moon is made more enjoyable by its earnest actors. It's bloodless, but not completely soulless. 



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