It’s not exactly a celebration of female independence, but ‘New Moon’ still has an expert handle on its young audience. Near-kisses and sexual frustration abound. Boys become attractive yet also dangerous when they come of age – and the good ones keep the monsters in check. This time, the monsters aren’t merely vampires, but werewolves: spectacular CG creatures that snarl and pounce their way through several enjoyable action sequences, then transform back into buff, topless young studs… Yep, ‘New Moon’ knows what it’s doing.
Plot-wise it’s a slow starter, but gains momentum when Bella develops a taste for adrenaline in the hope of catching a glimpse of her vampiric protector. Motorbike rides and deathly dives follow, along with a scenic race to Italy to meet uber-vampire Michael Sheen (always a pleasure). Welcome comedy comes from Bella’s schoolmates, notably Jessica (Anna Kendrick), who wearily deconstructs the symbolism in zombie movies while bemoaning the lack of hot guys. Is this ‘New Moon’ defending its fanbase and pre-empting criticism about its transparent agenda? Natalie and Bella are intelligent young women, yet ruled by their hormones – plenty of room for audience identification there. ‘New Moon’ is little more than a skilful soap opera, but it’s still enjoyable escapism – even if you’re old and wise enough to see through it.