Fangs a lot for nothing
Despite showing a lot more flesh, it's still the same Mormon denial for teens, writes Robert McKay
It's no wonder New Moon, the second instalment in the vegetarian vampire series that broke all the box office records last week, is like catnip to teenage girls and their Twilight moms.
There's a whole lot more skin on display this time - Robert Pattinson shows off his pasty white torso, and a pack of pumped-up werewolves spends the entire movie shirtless - but it's all a big tease. For director Chris Weitz, who sticks to sneaky Mormon Stephenie Meyer's original intentions, Taylor Lautner's barely legal abs are just a way to put your tween's abstinence to the test. At the centre of New Moon is millions of people's idea of the perfect fantasy - a love triangle between Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart), her brooding, bloodsucking BF, Edward Cullen (Pattinson), and the werewolf that's got everybody howling, Jacob (Lautner).
When the movie opens, Bella and Edward are happy in love, despite never making it to second base. When he's not pouting at the camera, Edward - a lovesick puppy at age 109 - recites lines from Romeo & Juliet, which only inflames Bella's desperate yearning to get bitten by him.
Things take a turn for the worse when Bella pricks her finger at a party.
To protect Bella from himself, Edward skips town, thrusting her into the preternaturally muscular arms of Jacob, who further underscores Meyer's theme of self-denial by struggling to overcome the dirty little secret of his shape-shifting ability.
Despite his rippling physique, there is no spark and Bella retreats indoors to mope for what seems an inordinately long time.
Edward has taken any trace of urgency with him and there's a major lull before Weitz whisks us off to Italy for a showdown with the camp vampire king, Volturi, played by Michael Sheen in one of the most unintentionally hilarious performances of the year, and a surprisingly evil cameo by Dakota Fanning, who gets to show us her dark side for the first time.
Despite all this excitement, when Edward finally utters the last line of the film - at which point the audience let out a collective groan - it's difficult to imagine prolonging Bella and Edward's bloodless, sexless romance.
Meyer and concerned parents may not want them to, but sooner or later Edward and Bella will have to give into their desires.
And with two books and presumably two movies to go, hopefully it'll be sooner rather than later.