The Twilight Saga: New Moon
- Directed by Chris Weitz
- Written by Melissa Rosenberg
- Starring Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner
- Classification: PG
"Pent up" has been the phrase used to describe audience demand for The Twilight Saga: New Moon, after the first film based on novelist Stephenie Meyer's teen vampire series earned more than $400-million at the box office. Pent up is also pretty much a description of the entire action of the film, filled as it is with virgins on the verge - every kiss, touch of the skin and friendly embrace threatens to unleash animalistic impulses. Suggestive scenes that adults will snigger at may still delight younger female fans, who can enjoy collectively screaming along to every onscreen tease.
As the movie starts, high-school senior Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) is more anxious than ever than to jump the century-old bones of her vampire lover, Edward Cullen (Robert Pattison), he of the sculpted cheekbones and a complexion that is milk-white and sparkly, like ice-cream left open too long in the freezer.
Stewart - coolly intense, androgynous and intelligent - remains the series's strongest asset as Bella, the emotional centre of the story. Still living with her dad in the small Washington town of Forks, Bella closes her 18th birthday at a gathering of her vampire friends, where a paper cut nearly triggers a feeding frenzy. Later, she demands a kiss from Edward, which causes him to turn even colder than usual. He declares they are through; he's pulling out of town and out of her life.
New Moon director Chris Weitz ( The Golden Compass) adds a bigger scale (better cinematography, a more lush score) to this film compared with Catherine Hardwicke's first effort, but it continues as essentially a teen soap opera about a good girl and cute boys who are off-limits. But Weitz is more awkward than Hardwicke with the casual teenaged interactions (writer Melissa Rosenberg's dialogue hasn't improved, although it helps that she uses quotes from Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet). Weitz's most obvious directorial flourish feels a little silly: Abandoned by Edward, Bella sits motionless, in her track pants, staring out the window. Each time the camera does a 360-degree pan around her chair, on-screen titles indicate another month has passed. What, no bathroom breaks?
After a while, Bella discovers a technique to lure Edward back - or at least a semi-transparent version of himself. If she does something really dangerous, like jump on the back of some creep's motorcycle outside a bar, Edward pops up as a ghostly vision to suggest that she reconsider. In an effort to encourage these visitations, Bella becomes an adrenaline junky. When she decides to build her own motorcycle, she enlists her childhood friend Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner) to help her. He's a native kid from the Quileute tribe, and since the first film he's developed a totally ripped body, as Bella notes several times.
Initially, Jacob seems hot for her in return until a new impediment to erotic satisfaction arises. Jacob starts getting tight with a group of dudes who look like Calvin Klein models and who like to hang out in the woods, shirtless, especially when it rains.
"Have you ever had a secret you couldn't tell anyone?" Jacob asks Bella, but his secret is not what you think. He's a werewolf! Werewolves, it turns out, are the sworn enemies of vampires. When some hostile vampires come back to Forks, Jacob and his furry four-legged friends leap to Bella's defence.
Meanwhile, Edward is off to Italy where an aristocratic group of vampires called the Volturi (think the Vampire Vatican) may help him end his life. The Volturi are Roxy Music look-alikes who live in a castle and dine on local Italians and are led by a foppish lord played by English actor Michael Sheen. Just for fun, we also have Dakota Fanning as the most evil little vampire princess of them all, with a sneer and amber-eyed glare.
Can Bella rescue Edward in time? Does a werewolf wrestle in the woods? Does the vampire pope live in Italy?
But the ending is less a resolution than a pointer to the next stage. Fans will have to stay pent up until June, when The Twilight Saga: Eclipse opens in theatres.