By Chase Kahn
With full-bore teenage gawkiness and exploratory love-lust, Chris Weitz's New Moon is an amber-tinted, beefed up, awkward brew - neither an improvement over Catherine Hardwicke's Twilight or a franchise deal-breaker.
I found it by-and-large both flashier and far more tedious, both in equal measure. Like any sequel or procession in a series, it ups the stakes and broadens the scope, all the while exposing Stephanie Meyers' source material as it becomes increasingly more inane and seemingly illogical.
Nevertheless, the series continues to remain harmlessly produced and executed - unashamedly exploitative of its stars' mass sex appeal. It's also occasionally pleasurable in its own sort of way even as this installment seems to sulk and pout for its majority. (A Thom Yorke-inspired chase through the woods feels just inspired enough to appear out of place).
I hate to say it, because as much as I'm willing to bang the drum for Kristen Stewart (see Greg Mottola's Adventureland), the overnight sensation and envy of millions of girls across the country is genuinely bad in her second tour of duty as the latest victim of forbidden love, Bella Swan.
With infuriating indecision and incessant fly-trap eyelids, Stewart can't deliver a line without rinsing them through her mouth a couple of times before spewing them out. She sputters and blinks and contorts her brows to varying degrees dependent on her mood (which rarely wavers from near-suicidal brooding). No wonder Bella can't decide what to do - she can hardly speak.
After hearing from several close relatives who have thoroughly read through the entire "Twilight" saga (4 novels), this is a series that gets progressively far-fetched as it reaches its conclusion. The film adaptations may inevitably follow suit, but with Chris Weitz's New Moon, it hasn't quite gotten here. This isn't a train wreck, and as much as I'd like to completely hate these films, I can't. At least not yet, anyway.