The Twilight Saga: New Moon

The Twilight Saga: New Moon


Reviewed by: Martin Gray

As sure as the dead must rise, a worldwide film hit will spawn a sequel. So here's vampire Edward (Robert Pattinson) and human Bella (Kristen Stewart) back to carry on their chaste love affair in Washington State. It rains a lot in the amusingly titled town of Forks, which is apt as these are two of the wettest characters in fiction. Infatuated Bella wants to be turned into a vampire so she can be with her pale rider forever, but Edward's not up for that, believing he has no right to allow a human to give up her life for him. So he keeps her at arms' length, lest he gets carried away and transforms her into his undead bride.

Finally, Edward dumps Bella for her own good, pretending he no longer loves her and moving away with his fey family. Will she pull herself together over time, move on and find some nice human lad to obsess over? Not Bella - she wallows in her bedroom for months, staring out of the window and screaming out in the night, much to the chagrin of policeman dad Charlie (Billy Burke).

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To please him she goes shopping with schoolpal Jessica (Anna Kendrick), comes across some bad boys on bikes and learns that when she's in danger, visions of Edward dance in her head, warning her to be careful. Rather than freak out and book herself into a nice padded cell, Bella (Lugosi?) becomes a danger junkie, doing anything she can to summon Edward's wan spirit.

Deciding a motorbike might be just the thing, she persuades local lad Jacob (Taylor Lautner) to help her fix up a pair of junk bikes. Persuading him isn't difficult, as he has a massive crush on her, God knows why, and soon Bella's having moments of less-than-complete unhappiness. Rather than snog Jacob and see how that feels, Bella continues to hold the 109-year-old vampire so tightly in her heart it threatens to strangle her.

Happily for the viewer, Jacob has secrets of his own, ones hinted at in the first movie which enliven this second nicely. Without giving too much away, let's just say that he and his friends, who never knowingly wear more than shorts, the better to show of their ridiculously buff young bods, have more than the average amount of teenage hair. And they prove pretty useful in helping Bella survive the attentions of evil (that is, they have personalities) vampires Laurent (Edi Gathegi) and Victoria (Rachelle Lefevre).

Sadly, she dumps Jacob as her 'best friend' to fly to Italy - via Virgin, aptly - to prevent Edward committing some kind of vampire suicide in a heavily telegraphed Romeo and Juliet parallel. There she encounters Anne Rice wannabe vampire royalty in the face of three panto-style blood-suckers, headed by Michael Sheen. By the end of the film Bella and Edward (Bedward?) are reunited and setting up the next instalment in the franchise.

If you're an emotional teenage girl, take a tissue. If you're not, take a cushion, for this is a film that lasts about three days. And a sickbag. Stewart does a fine job of conveying young lady misery to the power of google, while Pattinson isn't asked to do much beyond look pale and uninteresting - usually in slow motion cos he's, like, soooo romantic. The eight-packed Lautner, by contrast, is such a likeable, solid figure that Bella's selfish using of him makes her seem as inhuman as any vampire. Ashley Greene is fun as Edward's sparky sister, Alice, while Michael Sheen is camp as tits as head vamp Aro.

There's one character who is meant to demonstrate to Bella the danger of running with creatures of the night but given she's shown as pretty darn happy with the repentant guy who, ummm, slashed her face to ribbons when he got angry for a second and she 'was too close', that's an uncomfortably stupid message.

The cast members I'd really like to give a shout out to are Kendrick as the amusingly pissed-off Jessica and Michael Welch as squeamish classmate Mike, yet another resident with an inexplicable interest in brokenhearted Bella. Both make the most of small parts, ensuring flashes of fun in their short scenes. Director Chris Weitz ekes out every drop of adolescent angst, meaning many scenes are far longer than they need to be. Bella's pain over Edward goes on so long that the girl seems psychotic, while the mystery around Jacob stretches out so much that you begin thinking it's something else, a teenage gay cult maybe. A happy possible flash-forward, with a vampire Bella frolicking with Edward in, of course, slow motion is so over egged that the whole cinema guffawed. The target audience may adore the love longueurs, but to me the drip-drip-drip of it all was akin to Chinese water torture.

The problem with the stars of Stephanie Meyer's bestselling series is that, so far at least, they're utterly joyless. We never see 'Bedward' having fun together, living in the moment. This pair couldn't make a cup of coffee without worrying about the moral consequences for future generations. That makes their romance unconvincing, and it difficult to care about them.

Given the toothless Edward is out of the picture for long periods, the big focus of irritation becomes Bella; the girl simply has no spirit, spending all her time pulling the sad face and waiting for someone to come along and rescue her. Rather than defend against an attack, she's far more likely to offer her pretty neck. Consequently, I spent the entire film praying some monster would come along and put her out of her misery.

Reviewed on: 24 Nov 2009
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Director: Chris Weitz

Writer: Melissa Rosenberg, based on the book by Stephenie Meyer

Starring: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Billy Burke, Ashley Greene, Anna Kendrick, Michael Welch, Edi Gathegi, Rachelle Lefevre

Year: 2009

Runtime: 131 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: US


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