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Trailing a minor incident that results in Bella almost being attacked by Jasper, Edward and the rest of the Cullens make the decision to leave Forks, Washington, which sends her into a downward spiraling depression that is only escapable through recklessly living on the edge or the figurative solace of Jacob.

Entangled in the world of human and vampire love, Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) reluctantly celebrates her 18th birthday after an added push and a game of mind control from the Cullens. Unfortunately, things fail to go as planned when Bella unintentionally pricks her finger while opening a gift and fuels the least-controlled family vampire Jasper (Jackson Rathbone) with the desire of her blood.

Save once again by Edward (Robert Pattinson), the actions of Jasper doesn’t outrage Bella as much as they reassert to Edward that him being with Bella only puts her in constant danger. With that in mind, he makes the decision to up root and leave, which isn’t met with understanding or acceptance from Bella, even after he breaks her heart by telling her he doesn’t want her.

The heartbreak of losing the love of her life sends Bella in a deep depression, which sees her abandoning her friends and screaming from horrific and unfathomable dreams in the middle of the night. It is only through the company of her friend Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner) or the act of living dangerous, which allows her to see Edward through hallucinations, that Bella finds any sense of relief or atonement.

Jacob, who is harboring a secret life as a wolf, has a depth of love for Bella that is denied vocally in return, but often teasingly displayed in return by her actions, and it is only through her leaving to save Edward that officially lays to rest the notion of her completely feeling the same way. Something that is sure to be heavily played with in the upcoming third installment, Eclipse.

Barely managing to save Edward from exposing himself as a vampire, they must face the Volturi (the vampires that enforce the laws), who are amazed with Bella’s ability to remain obsolete to their powers and grants them a waiver with the condition that Bella must be turned into a vampire, which is essentially what she already desired.

Edward rejects this notion in his mind and upon vocalizing this thought to Bella, she takes it upon herself to arrange a vote that is granted from everyone except Edward and Roslie, who rejects because she knows she wouldn’t want to be subjected to life as a vampire (if it was a choice).

Backed into a corner, Edward agrees to be the one that transforms Bella into a vampire, but only if she does him the honor of becoming his wife, a question that will remain unanswered until Eclipse in June 2010.

The acting is much better this time around and the three stars seem to have really found the connective thread that makes their character click. Kristen Stewart nicely portrays the emotions Bella goes through with a sense of vulnerability and the lust of a girl deeply in love. Robert Pattinson, who is missing for a heavy portion of the movie, does the best he can with the minimal depth that lays within the script for him and Taylor Lautner firmly steps in as eye candy with actual range. Much improved.

Direction and Visual:
Stepping in for Catherine Hardwicke, director Chris Weitz gives the film a polished and refined look, although he occasionally evoked some questionable effects and the action sequences often seemed a little too spur of the moment and not done in transitions to effectively create a momentum. He captures the emotions really well, which is evident in the scenes circling Bella as she deals with the months of her depression. By no means free of glitches, but definitely elevated from the original.

Final Verdict:
New Moon overlaps Twilight not because it is a better book, but simply because it stays true to the book. It captures the unknown intensity of the connection between Bella and Jacob, and doesn’t default on crucial scenes needed to be visualized for fans of the book, which was done on more than one account with the first installment.

3.5 out of 5

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