It’s easy to see how “The Twilight Saga: New Moon,” directed by Chris Weitz, written by Melissa Rosenberg, based on the novel by Stephenie Meyer, nailed it’s target demographic: the two local sold-out midnight showings brimmed with teeming teenagers all a-twitter and agog: Robert Pattison, Taylor Lautner, both chiseled. You can enjoy the film for the spectacle of that particular spectacle – it is a cultural phenomena, after all - but if you’re watching it for any semblance of a coherent story line, forget it.
It picks up where “Twilight” left off. Post-prom Bella (Kristen Stewart) and Edward (Robert Pattison) are a couple, bodies are still being mutilated in the forest, residents of the town report seeing larger than life wolf-like creatures. They’re studying Romeo and Juliet in English class and Edward, called on to recite some lines because he seems to be paying more attention to his own Juliet, nails the task. Too well, it seems, because then the story turns into a loosey-goosey, ridiculous tale of doomed lovers with their own death wishes.
What is the same is now annoyingly so. In “Twilight,” Kristen Stewart’s teen angst suggested an edginess, especially when coupled with the fact that she’s dating a hunky vampire. She didn’t exactly fit into her life in the Pacific Northwest, which gave her a hip, outré countenance: blanched Goth countenance and penumbral attitude, without the mascara, tattoos, and piercings.
Here, though, it’s a shtick, an annoying one She doesn’t so much speak in complete sentences as bat her eyelids and mumble. She’s not convincing; she seems to be acting. She takes the Juliet-suicide thing she’s been studying and becomes an adrenaline junkie because she’s figured out that’s how to get apparitions of Edward, who, along with his family, left her because Jasper (Jackson Rathbone) tried to exsanguinate her (paper cut, he’s not quite yet the vegan vampire: he's got blood lust) at her birthday party.
The problem is, it doesn’t seem reckless – that’s the word that keeps coming up; Edward told her not to be reckless when he left – it seems erratic. So when she goes cliff diving, motorcycle
riding crashing, suddenly flies off to Italy with Alice (Ashley Green) to save Edward, who thinks she dead and so wants to die at the hands of the very cool-looking Voltari, a vampire equivalent of a Vatican Council, it feels more like she’s simply smoking in the bathroom at school, drag racing, and writing dirty words on lockers.
What’s different is also annoying. Jacob (Taylor Lautner) is suddenly chisled like a mixed martial arts fighter, with grossly exaggerated trapezius muscles which makes you think Barry Bonds, not Native American werewolf. It’s hard to imagine why, in the context of the story, he would do so; such vanity doesn’t fit in with his otherwise quiet nature, even when he chooses to become join a murderous herd of alpha werewolves.
The dialogue, especially Stewart’s, is painful but perhaps we’re not meant to listen, just look: the gorgeous landscape around Washington and later Rome, the model-esque Cullen family, and the alabaster beauty of newly-undead Jane (Dakota Fanning). Which also makes sense because the story flip-flops all over the place. Suddenly Bella’s in Italy, somehow Edward doesn’t die at the hands of the Voltari (an Alice-concocted plan sees to that, but do they really think the the Pacific Northwest Cullen clan can hide something like that from the all-knowing Voltari?). Then Bella wakes up in bed. The Italian excursion came about and then ended so suddenly I thought it was one of the nightmares she was having after Edward left (a lot of good Jacobs's dream catcher gift did for her). It wasn’t a nightmare, literally, at least, but it sure had the audience pullulating.
The final nail in the coffin of this morubindly meringue of a dud was the ending. Bella decides to become a vampire, but on her terms: after she graduates from high school. Then follows a kerfuffle as to who’s going to be the one to turn her. That’s when you realize, if a sub-text could ever be read into such juvenilia, the whole vampire thing is teen code for chastity; Bella’s wants Edward to turn (read: deflower) her but only on gentleman Edward’s one condition: if she agrees to do the deed with him, she’s going to have to marry him first.