By STEVE PERSALL
Times Film Critic
OMG, can you believe that Edward, like, unfriends Bella in the new Twilight movie?
Not on Facebook, though, so you know he isn't serious. Teenagers in dreary Forks, Wash., apparently didn't get the memo about the Internet, iPhones and Xboxes. They're too busy wallowing in their own mope about who's kissing or biting whom.
Just another day that feels like a year in The Twilight Saga: New Moon.
That's cat (or "cool" for anyone over the age of tween). Edward says this is the last time Bella will ever see him but he's just fronting. He keeps popping up in wispy apparitions — which is no different from Robert Pattinson in the flesh — to warn Bella not to do anything reckless. But she's an "adrenaline junkie" now, which is whack because every time she runs it's in slo-mo.
I'll bet Bella's gonna marry someone. I hope it's Jacob, whose performance-enhancing workout regimen buffed up everything except Taylor Lautner's acting skills. At least he doesn't look like he'd snap in two while carrying Bella over the threshold.
Something is inherently wrong with a movie featuring vampires and werewolves when the only screams from the audience occur when some dude takes off his shirt.
But you have to admit that New Moon is an improvement over the first Twilight flick, which is kind of like saying you prefer e. coli to swine flu.
Now that most of the introductions to personality-challenged characters are out of the way, and special effects aren't just the first flick's lame-o treetop scampers and Cirque du Soleil leaps, there's actually a story shaping up.
It probably has something to do with Big Willie Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, judging from heavy-handed hints dropped along the way. Bella (Kristen Stewart) falls asleep with a copy of the book — no Kindles in Forks, either — by her pillow, and Edward throws a few lines back at an English lit teacher who thinks he isn't paying attention in class. I'd just bite him.
Edward's too sweet for that. He even tries the Romeo bit while self-exiled in Italy after someone drops the bomb on him that Bella offed herself. She didn't, of course. Bella's too busy swooning over Jacob's sudden hunkiness and the way he protects her from his werewolfy crew, the same way Edward saved her from his family's bloodlust.
Oh, yeah, there's gonna be a smackdown, looking something like what Michael Vick dreams.
Meanwhile, abstinence makes Bella's heart grow fonder. Not the "hit it" kind of desire because that's, you know, foul. But that doesn't prevent a few laughable double entendres when Edward announces he's leaving and Bella says she wants to come with him.
You can cut the sexual tension with a spork.
Since this is a Twilight movie, there must be a few new characters introduced to keep fans guessing as if they hadn't read Stephenie Meyer's books. The fine British actor Michael Sheen (Frost/Nixon, The Queen) does the Dumbledore thing as leader of the vampire union, latching onto a franchise like Michael Gambon and Richard Harris with the Harry Potter flicks. Dakota Fanning shows up for one scene as his ruby-eyed minion, apparently because she's a closet Twi-hard.
You almost feel sorry for those actors playing various off-the-hook monsters who, for the second movie in a row, have little to do except stand aside waiting for their few lines of dialogue. Then you remember they're getting the red carpet treatment and doing star interviews for their troubles.
Easy work, if you can get it.
Steve Persall can be reached at Persall@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8365. Read his blog, Reeling in the Years, at blogs.tampabay.com/movies.