Directed by: Chris Weitz
Written by:Melissa Rosenberg
Starring: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Billy Burke, Ashley Green, Michael Sheen
Released: November 19, 2009
Grade: B-

As I publish this review, thousands of people are currently lined up at cinemas across Australia for the special midnight screenings of New Moon.  Regardless of what you think of the film, that’s pretty amazing.  We haven’t seen a movie event like this in some time.

Stephanie Meyer’s books have captivated the world’s romantics.  Is it because women harness a secret fantasy to fall in love with the bad guy?  Is it because this pair of “star crossed” lovers reminds us of our experiences?  Is it because Robert Pattinson is just really hot?  Don’t ask me to pinpoint a precise reason.  All I know is that people really, really, really want to see this movie.

So what’s it about?  It will help if you’ve seen the original Twilight.  In this second instalment, Edward (Pattinson) dumps Bella (Stewart) and then disappears.  He still loves her but is doing this to protect Bella.  He knows that they cannot be together – given that he’s a vampire and she’s a human.  Trying to make it work will only prolong the agony and expose Bella to unnecessary risks.

Bella doesn’t see it this way but she doesn’t have a choice.  In the months following the break up, she shuts herself off from the rest of the world.  She cries, she stays at home and she ignores all her friends.  On the heartache scale, this one ranks pretty high.

Trying to pull back Bella’s dark curtain is her best friend, Jacob (Lautner).  They start spending more and more time together with Jacob promises to never break her heart.  Bella is tempted to give in to her developing feelings for Jacob but something holds her back.  She has visions and dreams of Edward and thinks that perhaps, they may one day be together again.

There are more than a few similarities to Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet.  There’s a nice moment early in the film where Bella and Edward are watching it in class at school.  I’m sure it’s no coincidence.  When I started thinking about Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation of Romeo & Juliet (with Leonardo DiCaprio and Clare Danes), I realised that New Moon doesn’t have the same level of energy and passion.  It gets bogged down in a sea of melodrama with not as much action and suspense as I’d have hoped.

I can’t say much about the acting either.  Edward comes across as such a dull character.  I don’t know what Bella sees in him.  Watching Robert Pattison with his sparkly skin and blood shot eyes just didn’t do it for me.  I wanted to see her character developed further but I still enjoyed Kristen Stewart’s performance.  By highlighting Bella’s insecurities, she seemed more real than anyone else.

There’s a new director at the helm of New Moon with Chris Weitz (About A Boy, The Golden Compass) taking over from Catherine Hardwicke.  I couldn’t tell the difference – which is a good thing.  I liked the creative fantasy world in which this tale is set.  Kudos go to the team of cinematographers and there’s also a nice film score from Alexandre Desplat (The Queen).

Striking while the iron is hot, the next film in the Twilight series is slated for release in June next year.  It’s called Eclipse and we’ll once again see a barrage of media hype and a wave of special midnight screenings.  I look forward to seeing it but I’m hoping for something a little more interesting.