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Twilight Saga New Moon is the second film in the continuing adaptation of Stephenie Meyer's teen vampire love saga which opened last weekend to an exceptional audience turnout. It is a vigorous example of how a shrewdly targeted franchise can hit the spot dead-centre.

Opening to a hot-blooded $142.8 million by its target audiences — teary-eyed, love-sick teen and post-teen females and formulaic heartbreak romance novel buyers — New Moon is directed by Chris Weitz (American Pie, About a Boy and the children fantasy washout, The Golden Compass). With an acceptable $50 million budget, the film has so far grossed about $474 million worldwide in ticket sales, not counting the tissue paper sales. Sometimes money spent less on fancy imagery and more on the character's melancholy works better. Especially if the horde is many times as big as the red-hooded horde we see Kristin Stewart run through in the beginning of the film.

There is little to cry about during its two hours and 10 minutes, if one discounts the drudged idea of misfortune the viewers get from watching the constantly ingeminating scenes Bella (Kristen Stewart) goes through. Our teenaged heroine has fallen in bland-eyed love to Edward (Robert Pattinson), and like most high school fables one can't breathe without the other.

In the last episode (the first Twilight film), we saw Bella shifting to her divorced father's place at Forks, a small rugged town near Washington state's coast where the sun rarely comes out of the clouds. Her brief alienation is followed up by a friend's circle and the strange appeal to the Cullen siblings, a cool-looking, pale-skinned family who don't mingle too much because they are secretly a coven of vampires.

Neither vampires nor werewolves are bad in Meyer's universe. Mostly the rivalry is just a territorial matter. The only eye-catching handicap a vampire has is its skin, which shines like a diamond if exposed to sunlight; and the fact that most vampire families are quiescent of popularity. Edward and Bella are attracted to each other despite the soap-operatic tones of their relationship and the slight snags of immortality and abstinence.

Now, in the second episode, the Cullens have to move away, a larger authority in vampire penal system is established (the Volturi) and a retaliating villainess makes a comeback. Also returning are Bella's incessant doses of wretched agony (she has pained nightmares) and her growing fondness to Jacob, the graduating werewolf of the story (Taylor Lautner who works better than the two leads).

For all its overbearing insipid gloom of teen love, Melissa Rosenberg's screenplay is a stellar archetype that doesn't necessarily fit with the studio psyche of vampire action (now released through Summit, the film was initially stuck in development hell at Paramount).

However, Rosenberg, who wrote the first installment as well, skips on high-concept events, instead of choosing to elevate emotions. There is a sequence in the first act where Bella, broken by Edward's decision to leave her for her own good (despite the fact that he asserted his undying love in the last scene), sits by the window as the camera circles around her and the months shift from autumn to winter.

Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson are matched only by their achromatism. Stewart (while pleasant to look at, even in her mopey phase) twinges through her script; her performance flickering on and off like her vapid enthusiasm.

Pattinson is rougher. Appearing as wisps of projected thought during Bella's long torture, she stumbles on the idea that Edward's imaginary wisp-form appears when she's in danger (or in an adrenaline rush), so she becomes an adrenaline junkie recklessly driving motorcycles or jumping off steep cliffs.

New Moon would have been a pain if Chris Weitz wasn't as capable as he is in pulling off long-stretching passages of despondency (read better than Catherine Hardwicke, the previous director).

Opening with a drawn-out insight on Bella's dilemma of aging against the forever youth of Edward, Weitz does New Moon marginally better than Twilight, pausing at just the right moments for drama and action (mostly consisting of computer sped-up vampires who run like marathon racers and large, fake werewolves). However, with the handicap of the original book and the faithful adaptation, there is little he can do here.

The film stars Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Ashley Greene, Rachelle Lefevre, Billy Burke, Peter Facinelli, Nikki Reed, Kellan Lutz, Jackson Rathbone and Anna Kendrick (all proficient). Then there is also the disarming Michael Sheen and Dakota Fanning who appear at the climax, complete with lustrous, heavily back-combed hair.

Twilight Saga New Moon is rated PG-13 and features a ton of grief suitable for high school-going people. There is little violence, but nothing too bloody, gory or anguishing — unless you count the people on screen.