The werewolves are BACK! The vampires are BACK! The angst is BACK!
As if you already didn't know, Kristen Stewart is BACK as Bella - a girl in Forks, Washington, who happens to be dating a vampire, Edward (Robert Pattinson). After an incident at her 18th birthday party, where another vampire had the urge to eat her (so many metaphors, so little time), Edward starts to worry about Bella's safety and future. Meanwhile, she is begging to become a vampire, so she doesn't grow old, wrinkly and unattractive to her boyfriend, who will always look like he is 18-years old (and will always look like Robert Pattinson).
On top of all of that, Edward's family is worried about being discovered, since Dad, Carlisle (Peter Facinelli), has been the town doc for 10 years, and hasn't aged a day, so they leave Forks to keep the existence of vampires a secret, and avoid running afoul of the vampire ruling class, The Volturi.
Bella is heartbroken, depressed and haunted by shocking, scary, violent dreams, so Jacob ( Taylor Lautner) swoops in for the romantic rebound like Shaquille O'Neal (if Shaq still cared about rebounding and playing defense). Meanwhile, even though her feelings for Jacob are making the move from The Friend Zone to The My Boyfriend Looks Smoking Hot Without A Shirt On Zone, Bella has been putting herself in harm's way, since images of Edward appear when she is in danger. Yes, the girl has issues.
Will Bella be reunited with Edward?
What secret is Jacob keeping from Bella?
Is she in danger?
Who has the better abs, Jacob or Edward?
After director Catherine Hardwicke spent too much time indoctrinating us into the magical world of Twilight in the first movie, new director Chris Weitz is ready to jump into the action and story in The Twilight Saga: New Moon.
We see werewolves and vampires duking it out, evil vampires with advanced powers kicking butt and taking names, and lots of scenes of Taylor Lautner, Robert Pattinson and every buff young actor in Hollywood running around without their shirts on (I have to imagine the agent for Matthew McConaughey and his Amazing Shirtless Chest is trying to negotiate a small role for them in the next movie, maybe he could be the papa werewolf!). Combine the action with a tortured love story and you get hundreds of screaming teens, and a movie that isn't half bad.
Weitz is far from a perfect director. He ham-handedly forces music video moments on us as the score seems to be constantly playing over every scene in melodramatic fashion to the point where it starts to interfere with the story and dialogue. Writer Melissa Rosenberg (based on the novels by Stephenie Meyer) has the audience following several plotlines, and Weitz has trouble developing each one, especially given the time constraints. Plus, The Twilight Saga: New Moon feels like a middle movie where the story will be advanced, but we aren't supposed to get a clean ending. They might as well put "To Be Continued ..." at the end.
However, the movie is not a lost cause. We are faced with an inherent drama as Bella is torn between two boys who both drag her into a strange, underground world where she must keep their secrets or face death (heck, just knowing the secrets puts her at a risk of death, why is she so obsessed with the bad boys?). Weitz and Rosenberg toss in a few self-mocking moments and lines of dialogue that show they can allow themselves and the audience to laugh at some of the sillier and overly contrived moments, which is refreshing. Even the acting is OK.
Lautner has trouble becoming menacing enough when he warns characters they wouldn't like him when he becomes angry, but he shows some flair and true emotion when Jacob looks like he is about to get his heart stomped into a million pieces (every man can relate, so we have some sympathy). Michael Sheen is wonderfully intimidating, partially demented and slightly campy as the head of The Volturi, and makes the most of his critical scene. And, the audience gets a fantastic surprise at the end of the movie (if you haven't read the books three times, filmed your own re-creation of your favorite moments and posted it on YouTube).
The Twilight Saga: New Moon gives fans what it wants (hot young dudes who don't wear shirts), and might surprise a few people who didn't expect much, but you do need to see Twilight first to understand the context of this story and all of the characters.
2 ½ Waffles (Out of 4)
The Twilight Saga: New Moon is rated PG-13 for some violence and action.