Who’s In It: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner
The Basics: The second film in The Twilight Saga picks up as Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) turns 18. Like any girl in her position would, she worries about getting old while her honey, the vampire hottie Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) stays young and fabulous for all eternity. When his brother accidentally tries to eat her, Edward breaks up with Bella for her own safety and leaves town. To nurse her broken heart, Bella turns to her best friend, local Quileute Indian teen Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner), who harbors his own supernatural secret. As Bella increasingly seeks danger in order to conjure hallucinations of Edward, an old enemy surfaces with the intent of killing her in the name of vengeance, and events culminate in a race against the clock in Volterra, Italy, to save Edward from a vampire death at the hands of a sinister Italian coven. (Phew!)
What’s The Deal: I should preface this with an important admission: I have read the Twilight books, and I am a fan. It’s the single most determining factor for whether you’ll like New Moon or hate it, as the two basic reactions are either “Oh, Edward’s so dreamy!” or “What the hell is wrong with Bella, and what’s wrong with you for liking all this Twilight nonsense?” So I’ll just say this: for fans of the books, New Moon is a satisfying adaptation of the source material. For non-fans and skeptics, it will likely test your patience and make you wonder about the sanity of your Twilight-loving friends.
What New Moon Gets Right: Director Chris Weitz calls on his experience working with CGI (The Golden Compass) to make a technically superior film to the first Twilight, hands down. Scenes of New Moon’s werewolves fighting and hunting in wolf form are well done, and Weitz thankfully decided to tone down the cringe-worthy vampire growls and running effects seen in the first film. A marble-shattering fight between Edward and the Volturi guard Felix (Daniel Cudmore) is inventively choreographed and is one highlight of screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg’s additions to Stephenie Meyer’s original text. Overall, New Moon is smoothly pieced together with the precision of a music video (it helps that songs from indie musicians like Lykke Li and Thom Yorke were written for the film and punctuate specific scenes).
What Only Fans Will Love: New Moon is, essentially, faithful to a fault. It’s slowly paced and much of the runtime is devoted to Bella’s agonizing depression over losing the love of her life – a crippling sentiment that fans and teenage girls might understand all too well. The filmmakers worried that, with a largely absent Edward, the fans wouldn’t get enough of a Robert Pattinson fix; ironically, it’s non-fans who will miss him the most, as without enough Edward present it’s difficult to understand why Bella’s pining so hard for him to begin with.
Go Team Jacob! The Twilight star benefiting the most from New Moon is Taylor Lautner, who beefed up 30 lbs. after Twilight in order to keep his job. New Moon’s central romance isn’t between Bella and Edward, it’s between Bella and Jacob, so Team Jacob fans get their fill of shirtless Lautner moments and tender almost-kisses. Just remember, ladies: he’s only 17 years old.
Best New Twilight-Related Word: “Squee,” or the sound Twilight fans make when confronted with the sight of hot shirtless boys.