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November 29, 2009

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Dull Twilight II will defy critics

WHERE would Hollywood be without the old standby, the vampire-werewolf-schoolgirl love triangle?

As every Stephenie Meyer fan knows, "The Twilight Saga: New Moon" is the one where studly vampire Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson, pictured top left) dumps his human girlfriend, Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart, pictured top right), for her own safety, and she turns to old chum Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner) for solace, unaware he's a werewolf, and therefore Edward's sworn enemy.

What fans are about to find out is that critics, present company included, don't care much for this adaptation of the second in Meyer's "Twilight" series.

But they will turn out in blockbuster legions, teen girls in roving packs descending on theaters, along with ladies-night-out groups of friends and co-workers, daughters and moms.

With Chris Weitz ("American Pie," "About a Boy" ) taking over as director, the second movie has exactly what those fans want: big, bouncy boy hair.

Sculpted torsos everywhere. Teasing caresses of fingers on fingers, lips on lips. Love so deep and frenzied the smitten would prefer to die than go on without the other.

Most important, not just one, but two supernatural hunks snarling over the quivering carcass of a breathless, doe-eyed young woman. Swoon factor times two.f

For anyone who has not sworn the blood oath of undying allegiance to all things "Twilight," here's a few issues with "New Moon" - it's really two half moons, or two halves of a movie that don't quite fit.

Real rivalry

Mopey teen Bella has all the luster of, well, a mopey teenager. The real rivalry between the werewolves and vampires is to see which species can behave with greater preposterousness and pretension. Finally, "New Moon" is boring, eternally so.

"Twilight" screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg returned to adapt the script and "New Moon" shares its predecessor's brooding, diary-of-a-mad-girl tone.

Bella starts senior year in the worst way as Edward and his adopted family of sensitive new-age vampires pack up and move away.

Fans will rue the relatively scarce screen time for Pattinson, whose Edward still adores Bella but decides he has to break things off so he doesn't complicate their relationship by giving her a fatal hickey.

Then "New Moon" veers back to the Cullens as Bella races to Italy to save Edward, who's become a world-class moper himself.

There, they engage in a showdown with the Volturi, who are sort of the A-listers of the vampire world and as full of themselves as any spoiled Hollywood star.

As Edward's soothsaying vampire sister Alice, Ashley Greene provides more snap with a few choice lines than the leading players manage in the entire movie.

The soap-opera melodrama of Stewart, Pattinson and Lautner's performances provides some unintentional laughs that lighten the movie's relentless gloom.

Yet Stewart is onscreen almost all the time and her Bella is just a drag to be around. With her flat speech and listless presence, it's unfathomable how two different sets of monsters could fixate so completely on her.

All three lovers are so joyless, it's hard to imagine why any of them would want to spend eternity together.

They're here for two more movies, though. And that sounds like a real eternity.


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