The Twilight Saga: New Moon ★★

"The Twilight Saga: New Moon", which is based on Stephenie Meyer’s novel "New Moon", would arguably have benefited from—among other things—a tighter narrative, better developed characters, and less cheesy dialogue. At times, the movie feels more like a visual companion to the source novel than a film in its own right. Much of the 130-minute running time is spent setting up plot threads for parts three and four, so the movie’s immediate payoff is rather insignificant. All things considered, this motion picture ranks a notch below "Twilight", the first installment of the series.

Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) may be the protagonist, but she is almost annoyingly passive most of the time. Bella’s struggle with her feelings for Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) and Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner) is not particularly interesting to watch for people who are not already devoted fans of the franchise. However, the introduction of werewolves into the story provides the proceedings with a welcome boost of dramatic energy, and the scenes with the Volturi are appropriately menacing.

The fact that the relationship between Bella and Jacob unexpectedly turns out to be more engaging than that between her and Edward pushed me from being neutral to joining Team Jacob, despite my not really caring about with whom she will end up and despite my feeling confident that I know who it will be (I have not read the novels). One wonders whether director Chris Weitz intends for Jacob to come across as the better choice for Bella. My guess is: probably not.

Javier Aguirresarobe’s cinematography is one of the few highlights of "The Twilight Saga: New Moon": the movie looks very good and has a strong visual atmosphere. There are some stylish moments in the film, the most notable one being the scene in which the camera circles around Bella as the seasons change outside her window.

The acting cannot be said to be one of the strengths of the movie. Stewart, Pattinson, and Lautner turn in acceptable performances; of the three, Lautner fares best, making Jacob a fairly likeable character. Unsurprisingly, Michael Sheen, who has a small role as Aro Volturi, outshines the other actors and dominates every one of the few scenes in which he appears.