With Kristin Stewart, Taylor Lautner, Robert Pattinson. Rated PG-13 for some violence and action. 130 minutes.
First, a word with all those teenage girls and those adult women channeling their inner adolescent. Do you love the “Twilight” books? Have you seen the first movie more than once? Do you think Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) is the ideal guy because he’s so in touch with his emotions even though he and his family have an inconvenient need to feed on blood? Do you identify with Bella Swan (Kristin Stewart) who aches for someone devoted to protecting her? Well, then you’re going to love THE TWILIGHT SAGA: NEW MOON. It’s everything you could have hoped for, and both Edward and his rival Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner) are just so buff and dreamy that you’ll scream with delight when they take their shirts off. Don’t even bother reading the rest of the review. Go out and get your tickets now.
Okay. Are they gone? While nothing in the above paragraph is false, it doesn’t begin to convey this reviewer’s actual reaction to this film. Freely admitting he is not part of the target audience for it, there remains the sad fact that this may be the best answer to insomnia since the sleeping pill. Long and boring, it’s as drained of life as the victims – whom we do not see – of the “bad” vampires.
In the first film, Bella meets and falls for Edward, a vampire who can appear in sunlight and who sparkles. It’s important to know that here he disappears for much of the film. After a nasty incident with his family when Bella suffers a paper cut (!), the Cullens leave town. Edward appears only as an apparition warning Bella not to take foolish risks. Since this is the only way she can see him, naturally she starts taking increasingly absurd risks.
Her close friend Jacob starts to look out for her, but he has a bit of a secret of his own. Without giving too much away to those who haven’t read the book, he belongs to a group at war with the vampires. He and Edward are not only romantic rivals, they are sworn enemies. Much of the film is about aching and yearning, with everyone holding back whether it’s refraining from sex or from drinking blood. In short, almost nothing happens. For over two hours.
There’s a sequence involving the “Volturi” where performers like Michael Sheen and Dakota Fanning briefly allow the film to come to life, so to speak, but this is just warmed over stuff about vampire self-governance done to much better effect on “True Blood” and in Anne Rice’s books. It says something about the lifelessness of this series that Kristen Stewart – a fine up-and-coming actress in movies like “In The Land Of Women” and “Adventureland” – is little more than an attractive zombie here. Perhaps she’s attracted to Edward because she’s already one of the undead.
If you loved the books and the first movie, ignore this review. If you didn’t – and don’t get what the fuss is all about – “New Moon” is unlikely to change your mind.•••
Daniel M. Kimmel is a veteran movie critic and author of a host of film-related books, the most recent being I’ll Have What She’s Having: Behind The Scenes Of The Great Romantic Comedies. He teaches film at Suffolk University and lives in Brookline.