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Starring: Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, Taylor Lautner, Michael Sheen, Dakota Fanning, Billy Burke, Ashley Greene

Director: Chris Weitz

Writer(s): Melissa Rosenberg, Stephenie Meyer

Cinematography: Javier Aguirresarobe

Original Score: Alexandre Desplat

Running Time: 130 Mins.

The Twilight Saga, as New Moon is suffixed by, will surely go down in history as one of the biggest film franchise’s of all time, trailing the likes of Harry Potter for sure but not really sharing that eponymous hero’s  more universal charm. More going straight for the jugular (excuse the pun) of the most dedicated, most obsessive and most hyperactive and excitable of fan-bases, teenage girls. But to dismiss the films are a teen girls folly is slightly unfair, yes it deals with lost loves and the dilemmas every teen girl must face at some point, who to be with, losing the one you love, wanting who you can’t have, boys holding a candle for them. So nothing new there then, but in Meyer’s novels there is clearly something a little cleverer at work, tapping into the psyche of love, and relationships, forbidden or otherwise.

So while the original Twilight really was a “straight” love story between vampire and girl, New Moon expands the story as any good sequel does, while adding to it in more ways than just losing the budgetary constraints. So this time out Bella is part of a love triangle, Edward is away for the most part and (soon to be) werewolf Jacob takes centre stage, while the action ante isn’t really increased to cater any more for the male fan-base there is the prospect of some CGI wolves (excellently realised)  for a little more thrill factor. Director of Twilight Catherine Hardwicke jumped ship for this installment and the reign’s are passed to Chris Weitz (he behind About A Boy and The Golden Compass), the replacement is a welcome one as some of the dreary cinematography and pedestrian direction that plagued the first film is lost and a slightly lighter and much more enjoyable tone is found, which helps balance out against all the moping on-screen.

Yes, once more Kristen Stewart spends the best part of the film attempting, through much jaw clenching and screaming, to convey the deep emotional turmoil she is facing. Thankfully rather than having just another mopey teen (Edward Pattinson) to act against she is, as are the audience, blessed with the much increased presence of Taylor Lautner’s Jacob, granted he is more upbeat as Meyer wrote him but his humourous touches and more convincing acting help the time pass considerably more pleasurably than yet another 90 minutes of mopey girl and mopey vampire.

The most frustrating thing is that Stewart is capable of so much more, witness Adventureland, but in the script she is once again reduced to a largely unlikable person who really cares little for anyone other than herself, at least Pattinson displays SOME unselfish conviction to run alongside the moping. But once again Pattinson’s acting is reduced to staring into space when he talks and just looking generally quite ill, especially up against Lautner’s often on display six-pack, which is explained away thorugh his body temperature (as a werewolf) of all things.

But, hang on you say, all my criticism is rather “old man-ish” and yes, it probably is, hence I viewed New Moon bereft of these hang-ups, bearing in mind I wasn’t the target audience, and I must admit it was an enjoyable experience, though even from this view-point there are just a few too many talky scenes, and i appreciate they are ported from the novel but in a really good script-writer things can be changed, streamlined, whilst still keeping with the true spirit of the book, Rosenberg achieves this in part and expands on a rather good ending that provides some much need vampire-ham from both Michael Sheen and Dakota Fanning.

One scene stuck out for me, apart from the Venice set ending, and it pretty much sums up my feelings for the film, as the wolves chase vampire Victoria through the woods the pacing, editing and direction stepped up a notch and away from the mopey teens I couldnt help but feel a shudder at how exciting the franchise has the potential to be if it stepped away from the literal sense of the book and invested into the filmic qualities available to the creators having had the success they have so far. thankfully Eclipse, the next installment is due in 6 months and has David Slade (30 Days of Night) at the helm, meaning we should see a more horrific side to the vampire, just need to make sure theres more of that cinematic action to keep anyone other than teenage girls happy!

VERDICT

New Moon is better than Twilight, and is step in the right direction for the franchise with the introduction of werewolves and a hugely likeable presence in Taylor Lautner, Stewart mopes and Pattinson stares into space which I’m sure will be more than enough for the Twilight Saga devotees, but for those seeking more you may feel the need for a little more pace and a little less moping.

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