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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, March 19, 2010

First 'Twilight' was the best

By Bruce Dancis
McClatchy-Tribune News Service

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson star in "Twilight Saga: New Moon." The original was 2009's top-selling DVD.

Summit Entertainment

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Do you have to be 1) a believer in vampires, 2) a believer in werewolves, and 3) a teenage girl to enjoy "The Twilight Saga: New Moon"?

After watching "Twilight," the first movie based on Stephenie Meyer's best-selling young adult book series about teenage romance, chastity and biting in the Pacific Northwest, my answer would have been "no."

Directed with heart-pounding emotionality by Catherine Hardwick, "Twilight" made even this skeptical critic a confirmed doubter about all things undead who has never been a girl (though was once a teenager), root for the difficult and defiant romance between the angst-ridden Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) and the lugubrious vampire Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson).

Unfortunately, all of the hard-won suspension of disbelief that Hardwick and screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg achieved in "Twilight" is squandered by its sequel, "The Twilight Saga: New Moon," also written by Rosenberg but directed by Chris Weitz. Still, "New Moon" did even better at the box office than "Twilight."

So the release of "New Moon" on DVD at midnight tomorrow should have its target audience lined up at video stores and other venues where DVDs are sold and rented. After all, "Twilight" was the top-selling DVD of 2009.

Like the first film, "New Moon" is set in the small town of Forks in Washington state, near Port Angeles, where the teenaged Bella had gone to live with her dad (Billy Burke), the local chief of police. It begins with Bella and Edward still in love and entering their senior year in high school, with another potential suitor for Bella, the buffer-than-before American Indian Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner), a member of the local Quileute tribe, waiting impatiently in the wings.

The problem is that Bella, who has just turned 18 while the undead Edward remains stuck at 17 (or is it 109?), wants to become a vampire herself so that she and Edward can always be together.

However, the more sober-minded Edward views this as a fate worse than death. After an incident involving Bella and Edward's vampire family almost turns our heroine into a meal, Edward decides that in order to save his beloved, he must leave Bella and never see her again.

Naturally, this does not go over well with the love-stricken Bella, who mopes and has nightmares. She starts having hallucinations of Edward warning her whenever she places herself in dangerous situations. Bella also gets closer to Jacob, who has barely concealed his love for her.

Soon, Jacob is barely concealing anything, as he joins a small group of other Indian teens who run around shirtless in the winter rain and (spoiler alert, but really, one could see this coming) turn into huge wolves when angered. Jacob appears to spend most of his time either hanging out with Bella or wolfishly chasing away bad vampires who enter the tribe's territory.

The main problem with the film is that while absence (and abstinence) may make the heart grow fonder, it doesn't prevent "New Moon" from getting awfully tedious for long periods of time.

Both the DVD and Blu-ray editions come with an audio commentary with director Weitz and editor Peter Lambert and music videos with Death Cab for Cutie, Anya Marina and Mute Math. The main special feature is a six-part, 65-minute documentary, "The Journey Continues," which offers a superficial look at the impact of the first film's huge success on the young actors, brief snippets of interviews with the major cast and crew members, and an exploration of the film's design, costumes, locations, special effects and stunts.

It's all routine stuff, though fans may enjoy hearing Pattinson speak in his natural British accent.