By Lisa Henderson
It’s not often that a sequel completely blows its preceding film out of the water. Of course, it isn’t surprising that a $13 million budget increase would generate highly improved results.
New Moon is the continuation of a compelling love story uplifted by fantastical action and heart-stopping suspense. Accompanied by an attractive cast, the tale of good versus evil is told without a second of dull interaction or uninteresting, drawn-out conversation. Director Chris Weitz (director of The Golden Compass) demonstrates perfect plot fluidity from the film’s beginning to its end.
The plot again focuses on now 18-year-old Isabella “Bella” Swan, portrayed by Kristen Stewart (Adventureland, The Messengers). She becomes conflicted between her already professed love for vampire Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire) and her newly acquired feelings of close friendship for werewolf Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner, Cheaper by the Dozen 2).
Although both men have sworn to eternally protect Bella from other vampires who thirst for her blood, a new conflict arises when the Volturi, an ancient vampire council based in Italy, decides whether Bella will become a vampire so that she may forever remain in Edward’s life and keep the Cullens’ secret.
The acting may not be impeccable, as was made obvious in New Moon’s preceding film Twilight, but it has certainly improved since the saga’s debut. Stewart’s portrayal of Bella, in particular, leaves much to be desired and, of course, her excessive blinking and stuttering still ensues.
The awkwardness that Pattinson exudes in the first film works even less in this sequel, and his looks, intended as pained and tragic, seem more like they might be expressing constipation or gas.
Lautner’s performance shows a lack of experience but his genuine charisma helps to make the character more likeable than in the book and certainly more likeable than Edward.
Some of the supporting cast members, however, are more convincing in their roles. The now grown-up Dakota Fanning (Coraline) does a fine job playing the part of such an evil figure as Jane.
New Moon’s soundtrack, however, is absolutely outstanding. Orchestral theme music by Alexandre Desplat is intermingled with various artists in the indie rock genre compiled by Alexandra Patsavas, who was also responsible for the Twilight soundtrack. Death Cab For Cutie’s “Meet Me on the Equinox” is the soundtrack’s most popular single and is joined with hits by The Killers, Muse and Swedish singer Lykke Li. Another notable track from this album is an emotion-evoking ballad entitled “Roslyn,” a collaboration by indie rock band Bon Iver and singer-songwriter St. Vincent.
It is apparent that New Moon’s budget increase went toward improving the special effects. The film features an array of fast-paced fight scenes, including werewolf vs. werewolf and werewolf vs. vampire. The increase yielded fantastic results, as the film grossed over $700 million, almost double what Twilight produced.
All in all, New Moon proved to be extremely successful, having set a record for highest-grossing box office at a midnight screening ($26.3 million). It truly does Stephenie Meyer’s novel justice,which is often impossible for adaptations of books. This movie is recommendable, whether you’re a hopeless romantic, an action-lover or just looking for a satisfying movie.
The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, the third installment in the series, will be released in theaters June 30.