A toothless take on vampire book

"TWILIGHT: NEW Moon" is not a good movie, but who cares.

Stephenie Meyer's saga has hacked into the reptilian cortex of the female brain the way "Grand Theft Auto" taps into the male (I'll leave it you to judge which is the superior gender), and all "New Moon" really needs to do is put Kristen Stewart within five feet of Rob Pattinson and his sparkly skin. Mission accomplished.

Meyer has created something that no movie may tear asunder, and she's done it with an ingenious remix of the classic romance - desire, yearning, chivalry, yearning, torment, yearning, intimations of the eternal, more yearning, etc.

Or, stated more simply: You're a teenage girl in a town where every guy, every poet, jock, vampire, werewolf and nerd is in love with you (and, consequently, at least one chick wants to murder you).

I don't suppose there's any way to foul this up, although director Chris Weitz tries his hardest in "New Moon," a toothless take on Meyer's second book, in which Bella (Stewart) and Edward (Pattinson) split up.

The movie opens with several pointed references to Romeo and Juliet, then has the chivalrous, chaste Edward (he spends more time at second base than Chase Utley) pretends not to love Bella in order to save her soul. He leaves, with the his entire vampire clan.


Are you planning to see "The Twilight Saga: New Moon?"

Parting, alas, is not sweet, and it's not sorrow. Bella looks more like someone with mono who is occasionally Tasered. Sapped of all energy, she spends three months staring out the window, and wakes up screaming at night.

She's lured out of her funk by Jake, the other guy who's madly in love with her, and who's a werewolf, which in "New Moon" means you are sometimes a wolf and sometimes an Abercrombie and Fitch model who wears only cargo shorts (new moon, indeed).

"New Moon," for at least an hour, is laughably silly and unfathomably dull. I sympathize with Weitz, who is handed a story with almost nothing in the way of action. He doesn't help things, though, with a "soundtrack" cobbled together from a playlist of listless indie rock that feels like an epidural for the soul.

And I'm not just saying that 'cause I'm a dude who doesn't understand the female teen's infinite emotional capacity. The young lady in front of me spent at least an hour texting, bathed in the blue glow of her Blackberry. (For her, the parting of Bella and Edward was Tweet sorrow.)

It's not until the two-hour mark that "New Moon" displays a pulse - right about the time it suddenly jumps to Italy, where Bella and Edward take their problems to a vampire UN, headed by Michael Sheen, who looks like the only person in this production who's having any real fun.

This could bode well for future "Twilight" if Weitz takes his cue from the Potter movies and surrounds his teen mopers with grandstanding British actors.

He also needs to can the iPod playlist, and start piping in some Rachmaninoff. Florid romance is not something contemporary pop does very well.

The Twilight Saga: New Moon

Directed by Chris Weitz. With Jackson Rathbone, Taylor Lautner, Kristen Stewart, Ashley Greene, Robert Pattinson, Nikki Reed, Kellan Lutz. Distributed by Summit Entertainment.

Running time: 2 hours, 10 minutes.

Parent's guide: PG-13 (for some violence and action).