The second cinematic outing for the emo/tween Twilight franchise continues the love story between18-year-old girl Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) and 108-year-old-in-the-body-of-a-17-year-old vampire Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson). Edward is still refusing to transform Bella into his kind, or sleep with her, and he has become increasingly concerned that his presence in her life will come to no good. Edward and his family of fellow good vampires take off and Bella is left behind devastated. Bella briefly becomes an adrenalin junkie, is tormented by some of the bad vampires from the previous film and then starts to hang out with a pack of werewolves, developing a second love interest with Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner).
The first Twilight film, directed unremarkably by Catherine Hardwicke, was a chaste and bland addition to vampire mythology that at least was of interest for introducing audiences who hadn’t read Stephenie Meyer’s novels into its world of New Age vampires. About a Boy and The Golden Compass director Chris Weitz has taken over directorial duties for the second film and although Weitz is a better director than Hardwicke there is nothing he can do to save this film from its wet, limp and trite script. The dialogue from this film sounds like it is lifted straight from pulp romance and daytime soaps and it is extremely difficult to accept that writing like this is not only given a green light but adored by so many readers. Humour, subtlety and depth are all sacrificed for piles and piles of angst and empty sentiment.
On the plus side, the incredibly annoying Edward actually doesn’t feature too much in New Moon apart from the occasional absurd ghostly apparition. Like the Angel character from the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, Edward is a tormented vampire who wants to help humanity, loves what he cannot have, broods a lot, has perfect hair and is played by an actor with questionable acting ability. Unlike Angel, Edward contains no sense of humour, self-reflexivity or charisma. When she isn’t pouting too much Kristen Stewart gives a decent performance as Bella but Robert Pattinson was clearly cast as Edward simply because of his looks.
Audiences who want to embrace New Moon really need to question what ideas this franchise is selling to them. On the surface Bella may be an alternative to traditional teenage girl stereotypes but ultimately she is simply a lovesick girl whose sanity and happiness are dependent on a neglectful male. Bella is also surrounded by men who claim to have an innate desire to kill her, especially if they get angry, and their ‘noble’ attempts to protect Bella from their violent tendencies is disgustingly portrayed as romantic. New Moon is not only a poorly structured and badly paced slog but it contains at its core an incredibly regressive message about male violence and the need for women to accept it.