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Twilight saga continues fights over boys
Edward and Jacob fight over Bella, while viewers fight over which stud to pull for
Edward (Robert Pattinson) watches as Bella (Kristen Stewart) talks to his enemy Jacob (Taylor Lautner) in "The Twilight Saga: New Moon."

‘The Twilight Saga: New Moon'

Starring: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Christina Jastrzembska, Billy Burke, Anna Kendrick
Rated: PG-13 for some violence and action
Running time: 130 minutes
Bottom line: More of the same, but better filmmaking

Bella and her beast returned to theaters last week.

If you're already a "Twilight" fanatic, you have no time to read this because you're rushing to see it for the fifth time. After which you will passionately ponder switching allegiance from Team Edward to Team Jacob. Good luck with that.

If you were one of the many people disappointed after "Twilight," the good news is that "New Moon" features less cringe-inducing dialogue, much more story and a bit less of Edward's brooding routine.

We pick up the action after Bella (Kristen Stewart) has recovered from the previous movie's near-death experience. She and Edward (Robert Pattinson) celebrate her birthday with the other Cullens. In the midst of the soiree, though, Bella cuts her finger, which sends Jasper (Jackson Rathbone) into an uncontrollable frenzy to drain the rest of her blood.

Vampire or not, that's a major party faux pas. According to Emily Post, "Draining the blood of one's dinner guest is unforgivably rude."

Already worried about protecting Bella from Victoria (Rachelle Lefevre), who we expect to return to seek vengeance soon, the incident convinces Edward to leave Bella, sending the poor girl into depression for months.

What cures a broken heart? A new, beefier hunk, of course.

Bella begins to hang out with her old friend Jacob (Taylor Lautner), who suddenly has the body of an NFL rookie running back.

Luckily for Bella and all female viewers, Jacob goes McConaughey for the whole movie, appearing shirtless in darned near every scene he's in. The story explains Jacob's semi-natural wardrobe, but it's a pretty egregious, gratuitous use of pecs and abs. However, even when clothed Jacob offers a welcome break from Edward's "to bite or not to bite" schtick.

And thus the "Twilight" love triangle is set to divide the country as the Edward-versus-Jacob debate begins to overshadow health care and foreign policy. Since Jacob is more likeable, friendlier and - dare I say it - better looking than Edward, we might never heal the cinematic schism wrought by the dueling pretty boys of "New Moon."

Of course, the tug of war over Bella becomes more complex once we learn that Jacob is really a werewolf!

Bella sure knows how to pick 'em, eh? Every boy she brings home ends up showing his fangs. Or maybe it's the location. Is the state of Washington just teeming with monsters with perfect teeth? Apparently so. (I assume they're all Huskies fans?)

As vampire movies go, "New Moon" is just as lame as "Twilight." None of the vampires are ferocious or threatening - mostly because they never get around to actually attacking somebody - and the fight scenes show nothing more than blurry computer generated effects.

In fact, one big beef I have is that they show mere glimpses of the fight with the most potential, Laurent (Edi Gathegi) versus a pack of wolves. Laurent was perhaps the coolest vampire of the first film, yet we don't get to see him in all his lethal glory just when we should.

However, as a teen romance with a supernatural twist, "New Moon" works quite well. Bella's character becomes a bit more interesting this time, and she has the pleasure of being romanced by not one but two hot bad boys who must fight their own troubled natures to protect her. What more could a girl ask for?

From script to editing, "New Moon" is also made better than "Twilight," which slogged along impotently most of the way. Hopefully the series continues to improve, because like it or not, we are stuck with this little cultural phenomenon for several more years.

Finally, a message to all the adult women I heard ooing and swooning over Jacob's buff body: the actor playing him turned 17 this past February. That's just creepy.

Jeff Marker is a media studies professor at Gainesville State College.