Hollywood Product The Twilight Saga: New Moon

Twilight sequel rises above expectations

GENRE: Supernatural teenage drama

THE PITCH: To prevent a frenzy for Bella’s (Kristen Stewart) blood, the Cullens, including her soulmate Edward (Robert Pattinson), cut all ties and leave Forks, Wash. Devastated Bella eventually turns to longtime friend Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner) to mend her broken heart, unintentionally stoking Jacob's fiery passion for her and uncovering his true nature. Unable to forget her first love, Bella sets off a reckless chain of events that ultimately sends her on a mission to save a lovelorn Edward.

MONEY SHOTS: Jacob’s lycanthropic nature is revealed when he morphs into his wolven form to protect Bella from an attack by friend and packmate Paul (Alex Meraz). A savage, snarly, teeth-gnarling fight ensues between the two werewolves.

BEST LINES: Almost anything from classmate Jessica (Anna Kendrick) when talking to dazed Bella during a girl’s night out. As Jessica compares zombies to lepers, she notes, “My cousin had leprosy, so it’s not funny.” Best friend Alice Cullen (Ashley Greene) declares, “I have never known anyone more prone to life-threatening idiocy” when she comes to check up on Bella after a tragic prophetic vision.

WORST LINE: “I guess the wolf is out of the bag,” says Paul as they sit down and explain their tribal secrets with Bella.

PRODUCT PLACEMENT: Always a stickler for safety, Edward drives to school in a Volvo XC60 crossover. In contrast, his sister Alice throws caution to the wind and races to save his life in a yellow Porche 911. Bella desperately tries to contact her friend Alice month after month with angsty, poetic e-mails from her Apple Powerbook. Not sure if this was a play on Bella’s purity, but she flies to save Edward on Virgin America airlines.

BEST FAKE MOVIE NAMES: The insecure Mike (Michael Welch) originally suggested he and Bella go see the romantic comedy Love Spelled Backwards Is Love. Bella quickly suggests they go see the action flick Face Punch instead, and invites her school friends and Jacob. Unfortunately, the unshown violence in Face Punch is too much for Mike and he dashes out to relieve his nausea. As the others wait in the lobby for him to exit the men’s room, you see an indie-styled poster for Gambling, Gods and LSD.

BEST EDWARD CULLEN SPECIAL EFFECT: Edward haunts and advises Bella as an ethereal image whenever she commits a reckless and pointless act. While an unconscious Bella is under water, his ghostly form there to comfort her is swirled into oblivion as Jacob rescues her.

BEST JACOB BLACK SPECIAL EFFECT: Jacob’s leaping transformations into a large feral wolf are hard to beat. Unfortunately, that's his only trick in this movie.

PROOF THAT A GIRL IN TROUBLE IS A TEMPORARY THING: Bella, who only sees glimpses of Edward when her life is in jeopardy, puts herself in harms way multiple times only to be rescued and comforted by Jacob.

NUMBER OF TIME BELLA SMILES: Sorry, jilted and angst-filled teenage girls don’t smile very much. At best she can only crack painful-looking grins and roll her eyes for the effort. It’s true — Google it.

BOTTOM LINE: Chris Weitz has masterfully added depth and excitement to the moody, supernatural franchise. Unlike its predecessor, New Moon balances the sugary love talk with several fast-paced action sequences. While some of the film's moments sputter and lose momentum, the submersion of Stewart and Lautner into their onscreen personas is captivating and adds believability to their romantic rollercoaster ride.