True love put to the test
There's no doubt that The Twilight Saga: New Moon is aimed largely at loyal fans of Stephenie Meyer's best-selling fantasy romance series. It is faithful to the original in terms of the plot - and its twists - and it includes all the key events in the book.
Director Chris Weitz devotes a big portion of airtime to soppy, romantic chats and scenes of making out - but those are what people love about the books, especially teenage female fans. Young girls will also swoon over the close-ups of the male leads, Edward and Jacob. The movie picks up where the debut instalment Twilight left off. Mortal Bella (Kristen Stewart) and veggie vampire Edward (Robert Pattinson) are happily together but a minor injury reveals the danger he has put the girl in. To protect her, Edward leaves. The heartbroken Bella soon discovers she can feel Edward's presence whenever she's in trouble.
Helping her overcome her misery is best friend Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner), a member of the Quileute tribe, sworn enemies of the vampires. But just as Bella starts to feel alive again, there's an abrupt change in Jacob's attitude - and physique. Before she can make sense of the bizarre love-triangle, she is forced to embark on a journey to Italy to save her true love.
Pattinson is still unconvincing as Edward and Stewart's Bella can barely summon any expression (other than looking devastated from heartbreak). But the young pair definitely looks more comfortable together in this second attempt to portray a hopelessly-in-love couple compared to the dull, stiff performances in Twilight. And Lautner's natural depiction of Jacob is a redeeming surprise. For non-fans, the melodramatic dialogue in the movie will likely be a drag. But the brief CGI and action scenes add some excitement into the mix.
To give fans what they want, there is barely time to develop the plot. Heavily dialogue-driven, some chapters are reduced to a phrase or two. This becomes even more apparent as the save-Edward-from-the-Vulturi climax approaches - it's so rushed and sudden you'll probably need to have read the book to follow the story.
But to be fair, this new instalment is an improvement on the first and deserves an encouraging - and lenient - pass. Hopefully, the cast's potential will be realised in the third outing and do justice to Meyer's vampire saga.
New Moon is showing