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There’s an almost-funny scene in New Moon where Bella’s friend Jessica asks why there are suddenly all these zombie movies around. New Moon takes itself so seriously that I’m inclined to think this irony is completely lost on them, and that’s just funny.

 

This review contains spoilers, but if you can’t figure out the major plot point from the trailers, you’re not very good at paying attention.

 

The cast from the first film has returned-Kristen Stewart plays the unlikable human Bella Swan; Robert Pattinson plays the laughably brooding vampire Edward Cullen; and Taylor Lautner plays the buff werewolf Jacob Black. If you’re a fan of the books, you’ll have no problem with the plot. If you only know the series because you watched the first film (like me), you’ll sometimes find yourself scratching your head as you try to remember how so-and-so fits into the plot. If you don’t know the books or the first film, you should probably go see something else.

 

So as the film opens, Bella and Edward are studying Romeo and Juliet in school-and Edward reveals that ever since he thought he’d lost Bella in the first film, he’s seriously thought through suicide. He even explains how he’d have gone about it. This is, as they say in the business, clumsy foreshadowing. Edward’s suicidal thoughts match perfectly with his brooding gothic demeanor: "You’re my only reason for staying alive-or whatever this is." But it’s not just him making these chipper declarations. Edward reveals that because he’s a vampire he’s "damned," and he doesn’t want that for Bella. She tells him, "I don’t want my soul if it means I can’t have you." Later in the film, the Cullen family votes on whether to make Bella a vampire. Apparently, they don’t care about her soul, either, as they’re all excitedly for it. Wait…so the brooding weirdo is the only one who actually seems to care about her soul?

 

So after a close call at a birthday party, where a family member tries to attack Bella, Edward decides the safest thing to do is leave-even though the cranky redheaded vampire from the last film is still after Bella. He disappears for 45 minutes, which allows Bella’s old friend Jacob to enter the mix. He’s found out he’s a werewolf, and spends the rest of the movie shirtless and striking poses that seem completely unnatural, but are sure to make 14-year-olds swoon. Now Bella’s torn between these two creatures who love her. What’s a girl to do? (As an aside, the photos in a recent story in Entertainment Weekly on this film and its three main stars were the closest thing I’ve ever seen to a fully clothed threesome. It was disturbing.)

 

The film wraps up with an overlong trip to Italy to save Edward from killing himself (remember the subtle foreshadowing?), and confront some vampire royalty whose roles are never fully explained. Then it’s back to Washington for even more wrapping up, and preparation for the third film.

 

The movie just doesn’t offer anything new. There’s is still a forbidden love. Edward still delivers cheesy lines and Bella still eats them up. But for having someone in the relationship who’s over 100 years old, it’s still completely shallow. They’re so infatuated with the other, and have put each other on such a high pedestal, that they lose all sense of their own identity-and that’s just unhealthy.

 

The Twilight books are a phenomenon-no one can dispute that. I just wonder about the picture its painting for impressionable teenagers about what healthy love really looks like.

 

Rated PG-13 for some violence and action.

 

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