One of the things I liked best about the adaptation of Stephanie Meyer's second book in the Twilight Saga was it is definitely a film made for the fans. This movie wasn't made for critics or to win awards, it was made to please the series' millions (maybe billions) of fans. New Moon blows the first Twilight film out of the water and one factor that contributes to that is it follows the book much more closely than its predecessor. Speaking as, and for the fans, what we've all been hoping for over the last year is that the future films don't ruin what Meyer has established in the books. No more of this "Hold on tight spider monkey," bull crap.
Overall, most everything in New Moon stepped it up a notch and has risen to the next level. All of the acting has improved in the sequel, which was refreshing after what sometimes felt like stiff script reading in Twilight. Kristen Stewart steps up her game in bringing Bella Swan to life. That being said, she still does much of her acting through her accentuated breathing, but is more comfortable in the role and it shows.
Stewart isn't the only one feeling more comfortable this time around. All the characters seem to have brought their A-games. Mike Newton, for example, played by Michael Welch, though a minor character, seemed like an actual person in this film, instead of a robot. And when he has the stomach flu at movies with Bella and Jacob, it's totally believable.
Taylor Lautner packed on 30 pounds of sexy muscle in order to portray the massive change his body goes through and it was well worth it. From the very beginning you can see how beefy the 16-year-old is. When Bella crashes on the motorcycle Jacob has fixed up, after seeing visions on Edward brought on by her recklessness, the audience is finally treated to a view of Jacob's rocking body, which the editors must have had fans in mind, allowing for a slight pause when he pulls off his shirt to dress Bella's head wound. Whether you belong to Team Edward or Team Jacob, there's plenty of gratuitous shirtlessness to please everyone.
Condensing 563 pages into an enjoyable cinematic experience that pleases fans has to be one of the most daunting tasks a screenwriter can undertake, and this time around Melissa Rosenberg succeeds big time. Director Chris Weitz takes New Moon above and beyond the previous Twilight film. Where scenes were condensed it was done so in a way that worked with the film's flow. There were even welcome changes, like when Bella punches Paul in the face when confronting the wolf pack.
New Moon is for the fans. When the sold-out midnight showings let out, it didn't sound like fans were at all disappointed, I know I wasn't. Let the countdown to Eclipse begin.
The Twilight Saga: New Moon ★★★★✩
Starring Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner. Directed by Chris Weitz. Rated PG-13.