“Twilight Saga: New Moon” – Susan Granger reviews

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This decidedly mediocre second installment in Stephanie Meyer’s best-selling series about a teenager’s infatuation with vampires and werewolves in the Pacific Northwest has already shattered box-office records, proving that ardent fans will not be deterred!

As Bella Swan (Kirsten Stewart) begins her senior year in high school and celebrates her 18th birthday, she’s miserable. She’s passionately in love with a sensitive vampire, Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) who’s fated to look like a 17 year-old forever, so she’s tortured by the nightmare: will he still adore her when she looks like her grandma?

Worse yet, moody Edward and his clan (Peter Facinelli, Elizabeth Reaser, Kellan Lutz, Jackson Rathbone) have decided to move away from Forks and leave the soggy state of Washington, plunging brooding Bella into a gothy, self-obsessed funk – until she renews her friendship with beefed-up Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner), a member of the mysterious Quileute tribe. But shirtless Jacob’s got a secret. He’s become a werewolf and snarling, predatory werewolves are not good company: “It’s not a lifestyle choice.”

“I have never met anyone more prone to life-threatening idiocy,” observes Bella’s best friend/Edward’s sister Alice (Ashley Greene). And that astutely sums up the plot, including Bella and Edward’s ominous encounter with the bloodthirsty Italian vampire hierarchy, known as the Volturi, headed by Michael Sheen (who played a vampire in “Underworld”) with Dakota Fanning as an acolyte.

Since in Stephanie Meyer’s supernatural “Romeo & Juliet”-like saga, Edward’s 107 year-old character goes A.W.O.L. for this installment, screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg gives ruby-lipped heartthrob Robert Pattinson additional screen time as a vision in Bella’s mind. For the ignorant and uninitiated, there’s no explanation of who the fringe characters are, their complex relationships or why they act the way they do. Replacing Catherine Hardwicke at the helm, CGI-prone director Chris Weitz recalls his fantastical polar bear fight in “The Golden Compass” by having faux werewolves battle here.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “New Moon” is a shallow, vapid, cheesy 3, proving melancholy eternity themes can sometimes be drenched in tedium, except for ferocious Twi-hards.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.