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Friday, December 4, 2009


Compelling slice of nonsense worth sinking one’s teeth into. (Review by Billy Suter, courtesy of The Mercury)

It’s unusual to review new films early on a Friday morning and find more than a dozen people in the cinema, but the pack was out in force – and howling approval – for New Moon last week. The cinema was more than 90% full, mostly with young, adoring female fans, seemingly bunking school and/or varsity to be among the first to catch the second movie in the film franchise based on the vampire romance series of books by Stephanie Meyer.

The Twilight saga began with pale new-girl-in-town, Bella (Kristen Stewart), falling for the even more pale and broody Edward (reluctant British heart-throb Robert Pattinson). Edward, of course, turned out to be a forever-young, 108-year-old vampire who glows with gold glitter in sunlight and, along with others in his never-ageing, attractive family, continually battles to keep a commitment to steer clear of human blood.

The new film, directed by Chris Weitz (replacing Catherine Hardwicke), continues the story, and if fans of Pattinson are let down – he appears only at the beginning and end of the film, with a few, random ghostly appearances in between – they seem happy to feast ever-eager eyes on another of the film’s hunks. The assorted squeaks, giggles and gasps heard at Friday morning’s screening certainly indicate the new beefcake on the block is a howling success.

He’s 17-year-old Taylor Lautner, Bella’s boyish and now bicep-bulging best buddy, who goes shirtless much of the time in the new film to show off the 14kg of muscle he grew for his role as Jacob Black. Jacob becomes increasingly close to Bella in the new tale, pulling her out of a pit of deep depression after Edward, in his usual hushed tone, tells her they should break up.

Their love must end, he decides, because of his family’s increasing temptation to steal a bite of her. After getting Bella to promise him she will never be reckless with her life, elegant Ed vanishes into thin air. But Bella realises that her being reckless brings eerie Eddie back in ghostly visitations, warning her to wise up. If it’s the only way she’ll see her champ vamp, so be it, she decides. All of which leads her to Jacob, who helps her build a motorbike from scrap.

However, she unexpectedly finds their relationship shifting in a whole new direction – and also discovers a few dangerous other surprises about fresh-faced Jake and his forest-loving friends. It transpires that Jacob and team morph into wolves when angered and their main objective in life is to safeguard humans from vampires.

Well enough directed by Weitz, with more of a base in reality, more earthy in tone, the film ends with a statement from Edward followed by a blackout that baits viewers for the third chapter, due next year. The Twilight Saga: New Moon, also featuring Michael Sheen and Dakota Fanning, is a compelling slice of nonsense and worth sinking one’s teeth into. (Rating 7/10) – Billy Suter