The first Twilight film turned tween girls into obsessives, so this sequel’s theme should make perfect sense: romantic and sexual OCD. When pallid, principled vampire Edward Cullen (Pattinson) reluctantly leaves town, chaste girlfriend Bella (Stewart) sulks and mourns for months. Then solace arrives in the bulging biceps of Jacob (Lautner), her Native American childhood friend turned hunky hulk.
It’s not exactly a celebration of female independence, but New Moon still has a handle on its young-adult audience: Hormonal frustration runs amok, and boys become attractive yet dangerous when they come of age (only the good ones keep their monsters in check). This time, we get not just vampires but werewolves, too—spectacular CG creatures that snarl and pounce before transforming back into buff, topless young studs.
Bella sees action too, when she develops a taste for adrenaline in the hope of catching a glimpse of her plasma-sucking protector. Motorbike rides and deathly dives follow, along with a scenic race to Italy to meet an bervampire (Michael Sheen). At one point, a character wearily deconstructs zombie-cinema symbolism while bemoaning the lack of hot guys. Is this sequel defending its fan base and preempting criticism about its transparent agenda? This is a soap opera, folks—and acceptable escapism for those old enough to see it yet still young enough to shriek at undead dreamboats.—Anna Smith
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