The Twilight Saga: New Moon
New Moon gets right to the pulsing heart of the matter with an extended reference to Romeo and Juliet, a play that Bella (Stewart) and Edward (Pattinson) are reading for English class. Edward, of course, can quote Romeo’s final death soliloquy from memory (the advantages of repeating high school over and over, one supposes). And like R&J, this film revels in the spectacular excesses of emotion that teens feel with such earnest intensity. When Edward leaves Forks and Bella forever (yeah, right), she grieves so deeply and for so long that you could truly believe she might die of it. Her only solace is writing unanswered emails to psychic vamp Alice (Greene) in hopes that Alice will somehow pick up on it. A lot of e-mails. Seriously. The device really begins to grate after Stewart drones through five or six of these cris de coeur.
While taking a risky ride on a stranger’s motorcycle (don’t try this at home, kids!), Bella discovers that in times of danger, Edward appears to her as a ghostly vision, like Obi-Wan Vampire, whispering advice like “Be careful.” Thanks, ghostly Edward. Bella becomes a thrill junkie in hopes of seeing Edward again. That leads her to rebuild a couple of motorcycles with Jacob (Lautner), though he does the actual work while she sits around looking mopey and occasionally noting how incredibly buff Jacob has become.
And boy has he. One of the nice additions Weitz brings, assisted by Melissa Rosenberg’s script, is some little jokes about Jacob’s beefy physique and his more, shall we say, physical version of love, which makes Edward’s protestations of inner fire seem lukewarm. In fact, Edward is offscreen for a good long chunk of this bridging middle chapter of the saga, leaving us to a lot of scenes of Bella looking sadly out the window, waking up screaming from nightmares and generally being the ultimate mopey teen.
Weitz is a smooth technician, but his direction doesn’t quite match the operatic intensity of Bella’s mood, which begins to feel a bit monotonous even with a steady stream of crazy plot elements like murdered hikers, Jacob’s realization of his werewolf nature and the return of the evil Victoria (Rachelle Lefevre) bent on revenge. The film perks up a bit when Michael Sheen camps it up as one of the Volturi, a “family” of, as Edward explains, “vampire royalty.” But this interlude, though more energetic, feels as if it’s come from a different movie. After getting used to Edward’s GQ wardrobe and fashionably disheveled hair as the signifiers of vamp-hood, all the red velvet and Euro-accents seem like camp.
The core audience for this film will get what it wants—teen love elevated to the level of epic passion, done with a heavy emphasis on chastity. Edward does kiss Bella a few times in New Moon (on the lips!), and even poor horndog (or is that hornwolf?) Jacob almost gets some lip action, but the film is really about passion unconsummated. In that, it makes Romeo and Juliet, with its clear suggestion that the young protagonists enjoy the pleasures of sex, seem downright dirty.