Just as Bella (Stewart) turns 18 and begins her senior year in high school, her beloved Edward (Pattinson) decides he has to leave town for her safety. In a deep funk, she eventually turns to neighbour Jacob (Lautner) for company, but their friendship takes a twist when he starts getting hunky and tetchy and hanging out with gang-leader Sam (Spencer). But it's not steroids; the gang members are actually werewolves, locked in mortal combat with vampires. And she needs (and wants) to keep both Edward and Jacob in her life.
The plot echoes Romeo & Juliet (and not just because they're studying the play in school), which adds tension to the otherwise dreary events. The character detail and action-oriented sideroads from the first film are actually more integral here so, despite the long running time, the story has more momentum.
That said, it's still told from the perspective of a moody adolescent.
Even more than the first film, this is a movie for teen girls who feel weak at the knees over the idea of romance with one of these idealised boyfriend types: lovers and friends. The handsome cast members generate considerable internal angst as batting eyelashes face off against rippling abs. There's also much gazing off-screen and mumbled dialog, so it's a welcome change when a grown-up arrives to steal a scene. Sheen is especially good as the leader of the uber-vampire Vulpari, as is Fanning as his vile sidekick. We should get much more of them in the next two films.
Meanwhile, some nasty touches add texture alongside all the longing and yearning. Sudden moments of violence continually catch us by surprise, adding to the drama, as do hints about both things that have happened and things still to come. The only missteps are the jerky plotting and the cartoonish wolf effects; otherwise the filmmaking is lush and forebodingly beautiful, especially as it portrays woods that are lovely, dark and deep. And everything looks so cool it almost hurts.
Run time: 130 mins
In Theaters: Friday 20th November 2009
Box Office USA: $296.6M
Box Office Worldwide: $709.7M
Distributed by: Summit Entertainment
Production compaines: Summit Entertainment
Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 28%
Fresh: 61 Rotten: 159
IMDB: 4.6 / 10
Director: Chris Weitz
Producer: Wyck Godfrey
Screenwriter: Melissa Rosenberg
Starring: Kristen Stewart as Bella Swan, Robert Pattinson as Edward Cullen, Taylor Lautner as Jacob Black, Billy Burke as Charlie Swan, Ashley Greene as Alice Cullen, Jackson Rathbone as Jasper Hale, Peter Facinelli as Carlisle Cullen, Elizabeth Reaser as Esme Cullen, Kellan Lutz as Emmett Cullen, Nikki Reed as Rosalie Hale, Edi Gathegi as Laurent, Rachelle Lefevre as Victoria, Anna Kendrick as Jessica, Michael Welch as Mike Newton, Christian Serratos as Angela Weber, Gil Birmingham as Billy Black, Graham Greene as Harry Clearwater, Michael Sheen as Aro, Chaske Spencer as Sam Uley, Jamie Campbell Bower as Caius, Dakota Fanning as Jane, Christopher Heyerdahl as Marcus, Cameron Bright as Alec