For me, the most entertaining thing about The Twilight Saga: New Moon -- aside from a lot of inadvertent humor -- was the audience. At a preview screening, hordes of tweens -- some accompanied by their mothers -- screamed each time one of the major male characters appeared sans shirt. The audience's amusing hyperventilation kept my bad will at bay -- and allowed me to enjoy this amazingly silly movie for what it is, a pre-teen phenomenon. That's good because as a movie, New Moon hardly merits a mention, particularly for those of us who prefer the grown-up vampires on HBO's True Blood.
In this chapter, Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) spends most of the movie pining for Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson), the vampire who leaves her because he fears he'll be unable to protect her from all manner of supernatural dangers. In Edward's absence, Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner) becomes Bella's protector: He's a werewolf -- or at least he's able to turn himself into a CGI version of a giant, snarling beast.
Director Chris Weitz (The Golden Compass) takes over where director Catherine Hardwicke left off with the first installment. He keeps things moody, as if the entire movie has sprung from the depths of Bella's adolescent funk.
Edward's departure leaves Bella feeling as if she has a hole in her chest. Unless you're 12 or 13, the movie may leave you feeling as if you've got a hole in your head. Bella's dad (Billy Burke) seems a little bewildered, too; he races into her room to offer comfort when Bella wakes up screaming. Nothing seems to help.
Much of New Moon takes place in the northwestern forests of the United States, but this edition stretches its budget to travel to Italy where Edward appears before the Volturi, a trio of vampires who seem to be more powerful than ordinary vamps.
Based on a popular series of books by Stephanie Meyer, the Twilight movies arrive on screen with a built-in audience that seems to have enlarged because of the popularity of the first film. And I guess there's something to be said for a movie that poses an unusual question for a teen-age girl: Would a vampire or a werewolf make the better lover?
Not being one who cares much about the answer, I found myself wondering whether Bella wouldn't be better off putting some effort into her SATs. But, hey, that's just me.