Its official, Twilight fever has taken over the world. At the moment you cannot walk anywhere in London without being reminded that the second of Stephenie Meyer’s hugely popular book series is about to be released in the cinema. Having been a fan of the books, I (and what feels like most of the rest of the world) was waiting for New Moon to finally be released, and the good news it really is a rather good movie.
Keeping with the timeline of the first movie in the saga Twilight, New Moon picks up a few months on from where we last left high school student Bella (Kristen Stewart) and her vampire boyfriend Edward (Robert Pattinson). Everything seems to be going blissfully well, until an accident at her 18th birthday party forces Edward to leave the town of Forks, and Bella, forever.
Sent into a deep depression by his leaving, Bella slowly begins to come out of her shell again thanks to friend Jacob (Taylor Lautner), but things soon become complicated when he has a secret of his own.
Discovering that when she puts herself in danger she can see Edward again, Bella begins to become more reckless and an attempt at cliff diving starts a chain of events that concludes with a face to face encounter with the most feared of all vampires, The Volturi.
Following on almost effortlessly from its predecessor, New Moon is a bigger, bolder and, ultimately, a better movie than Twilight. With the storyline and characters in place, you jump straight into the action and feel like you have just carried on where you left off. Not many sequels can do this as naturally as what has been done here and kudos go to the filmmakers.
My one real gripe with Twilight was that it felt like a Catherine Hardwicke movie and not a Twilight movie and this has more than been rectified in New Moon with the style fitting the genre. It makes the movie itself run a lot smoother than the first.
The success of the first movie has also allowed a bigger budget for the second and that can be seen almost immediately on screen. Gone is the rather amateur attempt of making the vampire’s skin sparkle and in its place is a much more natural authentic attempt of what, essentially, is making somebody look like they are covered in a diamond-like finish rather than being dunked in glitter.
Although it still does look slightly strange, it did not create hoots of laughter from the audience, which the original did. The biggest effects, however, are saved for the werewolves and this actually was the biggest disappointment I had. Although you can see on screen the time and effort put into their creation, there are times when your entire focus is on the fact they look so computer-generated. It takes you slightly out of the story.
Director Chris Weitz and writer Melissa Rosenberg have managed to do something that not many are truly successful at here though, and that is taking a book and bringing it to life without editing or watering down the source material. Even if that does mean cutting the screen time of teen heartthrob Robert Pattinson, a brave move as he really has become the face of the franchise more than any other.
It seems a shame really that this writer and director duo will be split up for the next movie (director David Slade will be helming the next instalment) but maybe a different take is what will breathe new life into the franchise. Time will only tell.
Reprising their roles from the first instalment though, Stewart and Pattinson slip back into Bella and Edward as if they have never been away or, in fact, become huge superstars between the films.
There will, however, be a firm line drawn between Team Edward and Team Jacob for the remainder of the films and that is down to Taylor Lautner who has really made the character of Jacob come to life both physically and emotionally. There has been plenty of press about the hard work he put into buffing himself up to keep this role and I really don’t think if they had replaced him they could have found anybody better.
Flying the flag for the British actors involved is Michael Sheen as Aro, one of the heads of The Volturi and he’s charmingly chilling in a very friendly British way. But just under the surface lies a darker creature that is waiting to be let loose, but never fully will be. Next to him in the creepy stakes is everybody’s favourite child actor, Dakota Fanning, who plays evil vampire Jane with a straight face and rather menacing façade.
If I had to have a real grip, I wish there had been more time spent with the Quileute Tribe of wolves, as in the book you really got a sense of who they were, whereas here it was all very much glossed over, something that I hope will be rectified with the remaining films.
No matter what is said though, New Moon will do well at the box office thanks to the masses of Twi-hard fans out there. Thankfully, though, the filmmakers have not rested on their laurels and have made a film that will not only entertain the fans but the wider audience.
I can almost hear the countdown to Eclipse starting now.