The Twilight Saga: New Moon was vastly superior in every aspect to the first film in the series, but still definitely geared towards the large female fan base.
Edward and Bella are finally together and happy, but always knowing there is a huge distance between them. When Bella accidentally cuts herself at the Cullen house, sending Jasper into a feeding frenzy, Edward knows that in order to keep Bella safe, he must leave. Bella, as you might imagine, doesn't take to it too well and goes into a severe depression. Her only saving grace comes in the form of Jacob Black. The two spend a lot of time together, becoming closer and closer. But Bella, fueled by the visions she has of Edward, does crazier and crazier things to keep those visions coming. Her love for Edward will not disappear, no matter how hard Jacob tries. And when Jacob finally reveals his true nature to Bella, she is put between Jacob and Edward and an ancient rivalry that continues to this day. Whose side will she choose?
The books in The Twilight Saga are not particularly well written, but there is something about them that drags you in. It was inevitable that eventually movies would be made, and when the first Twilight film hit last year, while it did well I think there was a feeling that the movie version was every bit as cheesy as the books. New Moon continues the cheesy factor but does so with better acting, better directing, and a tighter, more entertaining story. First let's start with the actors. All three of the leads, Kristen Stewart as Bella, Robert Pattinson as Edward and Taylor Lautner as Jacob, have had a few months to grow as actors and get more comfortable with their characters. Edward once in a while has that pained look on his face but he's grown more relaxed with himself and doesn't always look so tense. Bella has definitely grown up in the space between stories and Stewart plays her extremely well as a woman who knows what she wants, but still scared to go for it. Lautner had the biggest transformation of the three. It is well documented that he was a possibility for replacement and so he went out and packed on 40lbs or so of muscle and it shows. The giggling from the girls in the audience when he takes off his shirt of the first time was amusing. But out of the three, he may have been the best character because he was able to go from lighthearted and funny to deadly serious very easily. His character has changed the most and as an actor he has too. Watching the three of them interact, even though a lot of people know how this story ends, you can understand why Team Jacob has such a huge fan following. Then again, seeing the looks Bella and Edward give each other, you can see why Team Edward is rather large too. The one problem I did have is that you don't get to really see why Edward and Bella love each other so much. If you hadn't seen the first film and came into this one blind, the interaction between Edward and Bella is truncated too much to get a real understanding of the serious passion between them. I would have liked to have seen a little more in the beginning with those two before Edward took off.
The one thing I really didn't like about Twilight was the directing. I know the budget was small but visually it felt weak. The special effects were cheesy and the overall tone of the film felt high school-ish. With new director Chris Weitz on board, and a larger budget, New Moon felt like a bigger film. Visually it was much more gothic feeling than the other one. The scenes were crisper and clearer and the pacing of the film was better. The special effects didn't seem as fake, with the werewolf transformations looking much better than the trailers would have you believe. Make no mistake, this entire series is a romantic drama, not a vampire/werewolf action film, but the story flowed a lot better going from one scene to the next. I also believe that the better performances from the actors can be tied not only to their getting more comfortable in the roles, but also because they had a better hand guiding them. There were some moments that felt like they went on a little too long, but in order to get more of the story out and keep the fans happy, that's understandable.
The dialogue is still cheesy but part of that comes from the fact that the books are the same way. And watching kids playing teenagers saying some over-the-top romantic lines can be funny, but there was a real intensity from all of them. There was also a lot of humor this time around, mainly surrounding Jacob and his relationship with Bella. During a scene where the two of them and one of Bella's male friends go to a movie, the love triangle aspect was extremely funny and a nice lighthearted moment. The supporting cast this time had less to do than in the previous film. The entire Cullen family was only around for 2 scenes, save for Alice who shows up periodically. The werewolves showed up this time around, as Jacob's transformation takes place. They weren't the best actors and I would have preferred they didn't speak but what can you do? The best support came from the Volturi - the vampire version of royalty - with Michael Sheen and Dakota Fanning leading the charge. Their scenes were short, but important and they all came through with a severe intensity that was masked by their old world charm. I wish they had more to do with the story because the end of the movie was very gripping, with a good fight scene between Edward and one of the Volturi. But all in all, New Moon was definitely a step up and it puts the series on good footing heading into movie three next summer.
THE BOTTOM LINE
So overall, I enjoyed The Twilight Saga: New Moon. It was better in every aspect to the first film, with the directing, acting, story and special effects all heading in the right direction.