The sequel to the greatest modern day film soap opera, “Twilight,” returns with “The Twilight Saga: New Moon,” packed with teen angst, unrequited love, vampires, werewolves and sculpted abs the likes of which have not been seen since “300.” [2012 Flash Forward: Seriously, these guys do a tremendous job of inspiring me not to take my shirt off - ever]
Now fully engrossed in high school life, Bella (Kristen Stewart, “Adventureland”) is still trying to get her vampire boyfriend Edward, (Robert Pattinson), to turn her into a vampire. After all, she figures he’ll lose interest once she looks like her grandmother, a mindset that only gets worse with the onset of her latest birthday. It’s also a subtle metaphor for the thoughts of the younger teen girl audience that fears love won’t outlast their youthful looks. [2012 Flash Forward: Or women in their 20s or even 30s...]Bella doesn’t help her argument during her birthday party, when Edward’s brother can barely contain his blood lust after Bella gets a paper cut and bleeds on the carpet. Edward calls off their relationship, promising never to see her again so she can lead a normal life, and promptly disappears with his family, leaving Bella with little more than a broken heart.
Eventually, Bella’s adjustment to life without Edward is made slightly easier, thanks to her friendship with Jacob (Taylor Lautner), who harbors deeper feelings for her. To complicate things further, Jacob learns he’s able to turn into a werewolf, and is fearful that he could hurt Bella while in feral mode.
At the heart of the film, Bella is desperately trying to remain faithful to Edward despite her friendship with Jacob. But as much as she’s attracted to Jacob and genuinely enjoys his company, Edward still has her heart. [2012 Flash Forward: Ah Jacob. Welcome to The Friend Zone, an inescapable fate worse than appearing in "Battleship".]
Screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg’s dialogue would sound too heavy-handed if adults were saying lines like, “It felt as if there’s a hole in my heart,” but it’s perfectly suited for teenagers who act as if every crisis or heartache was the end of their lives. [2012 Flash Forward: My constant gripe with people who complain about the "Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones" is that teens really are overly dramatic with their expressions of love, just like they are in "Twilight."]
This sequel feels a bit too similar to the original. The differences are that Jacob takes Edward’s place in the role of the awkward, conflicted teen type who interacts with Bella, and there’s a shift from a vampire-heavy story to one devoted more to the mythos of werewolves. [2012 Flash Forward: I've softened up on this largely due to watching the storyline play out in further sequels. The love triangle is an important part of the franchise and Jacob needed his movie to be the focal point just like Edward.]
The special effects work for the werewolves — critical to keeping the film from straying into serious fantasy fare to distractingly bad — is very well done. The werewolves look as realistic as possible, not like last minute CGI additions.
“Twilight” fans eagerly anticipated this sequel, so Chris Weitz, (“The Golden Compass”) who takes over the directorial reins from Catherine Hardwicke, is tasked with simply not ruining the franchise. He doesn’t have the benefit of working in much humor, as “New Moon” is a much darker story than the original, but he provides a much-needed upgrade to the film’s action scenes.
It’s not going to challenge “Titanic” in terms of depth, but the Twilight saga is more of a teen-focused soap opera on the big screen that’s harmless fun.
[2012 Flash Forward: This is a franchise that isn't life-changing, but it's entertaining for what it is and the alpha male werewolves end up being a lot more fun than the brooding, moody vampires.]
2012 Film Flashback rating: 6 of 10