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Twilight: New Moon's light flickers 

No girl power here: Bella is an unusually passive film hero.

The Twilight Saga: New Moon may satisfy the faithful, yet director Chris Weitz's take on the vamp-lit phenomenon doesn't work Stephanie Meyer's text into driven screen fiction. It becomes increasingly evident here that 18-year-old Bella (Kristen Stewart) is unusually passive as a film hero. She's the type of protagonist more common to pop songs: Bella doesn't proactively do things, so much as she has experiences thrust upon her. Since Twilight's appeal is its empathy toward teenage female longing, the emotional focus can work on occasion. It carried almost the entirety of the first movie.

Catherine Hardwicke's 2008 adaptation respected Bella's plight, linking her physical displacement to unexplored hormonal desires. It's a pinnacle teen movie (a future classic), where New Moon has no shape. Weitz's slicker Hollywood direction misses the personality of Hardwicke's raggedy rain-drenched style. The action and effects are improved, yet the movie is now catering to its audience rather than identifying with it. Weitz doesn't get as authentic a performance out of Stewart, as scenes are prolonged to squeeze out the romance and tragedy that won't register naturally. And when it moves away from inner turmoil, New Moon's vampire mythology is a chore (a likely misjudgment in the source material as well). Sure, new beau Jacob (Taylor Lautner), of the gang of mysterious shirtless guys who hang out in the woods all day, will have a prolific year as a school locker pinup. But he's par for a movie that thinks piling on elements is the same thing as steering them.


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