The staggering success of Twilight meant that the sequel was green-lit almost immediately after release. The Twilight Saga: New Moon recasts Kristen Stewart as moping, angst-filled teenager Bella and Robert Pattinson (R-Patz) as brooding, artistic vampire Edward Cullen. The film also expands the part of Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner). It surpassed its predecessor at the box office and went on to become one of the biggest films of the year.
Bella Swan (Stewart) wakes on her 18th birthday having had a dream about growing old. She discusses the age issue with Edward Cullen (Pattinson) who refuses to turn her into a vampire. After an incident at the Cullen family home, Edward decides to go away with his family to protect Bella from their vampire urges. She rekindles her friendship with Jacob (Lautner), but soon discovers that he is actually a werewolf and a similar pattern emerges between them as it did between her and Edward.
The meaning of The Twilight Saga has been written about by many people due to its popularity. It seems that deep down this is not actually a romance story, or a supernatural thriller, (these are merely the framing devices used by the author). What it is actually, is a thesis into the power of a woman to choose for herself. To break-down the social misogyny that surrounds our culture and to show that it is not a woman’s role to simply be looked after, but for them to be an equal part of any relationship. The developing love triangle between Bella, Edward and Jacob in New Moon shows the nature of men to ‘want to possess,’ and the power of the woman to decide what she wants. Bella acts as a strong role model for any young women, as she refuses to be bullied into making the wrong decision.
It is such a shame that Stewart is so underwhelming in this important role. She needs to have enough steel about her to be convincing as a female lead in New Moon, but lacks even the ability to be remotely warm of engaging. R-Patz is notable by his absence for large portions of the film, except for a re-emergence for the finale in Italy, which has some rather exciting fight scenes that make a mockery of Twilight’s ‘gymnasium fight. Taylor Lautner gets a much bigger role, filling in for the missing Pattinson as Bella’s love interest. Unlike the vampires, the werewolves are warm, passionate and emotional. Unlike Pattinson, Lautner is wooden, unconvincing and overall just dull. However, it should be noted that he takes any opportunity to take off his shirt and stand in the rain, which might appeal to some people.
The final scenes of New Moon in Italy involving the Volturi family (ancient vampires who act as a court for vampires all over the world) are well shot and provide a much needed change of pace. Aro (Michael Sheen) is charismatic and threatening, making him far and away the best character in the film series so far. Although the extended role for Alice Cullen (Ashley Greene) is also welcome, as she provides an intriguing edge to the plot with her ‘subjective’ visions which cause the Shakespearean misunderstanding at the end.
There are some heavy-handed literary references throughout, and the final climax of New Moon is an obvious homage to Romeo and Juliet, although without any of the passion, interest of drama. It’s certainly an improvement to Twilight, but it is still a sub-par entry into the history of vampire films.