Yep, we've seen
Most of us here at MTV News make no secret of the fact that we're fans of the franchise, and if you're reading this story, we know you'll see this latest
So, after a few days of reflection, here's our spoiler-free list of the ways that "New Moon" delivers:
The Acting Is Better
Maybe it's because the franchise's stars are one year older. Perhaps it's because of director Chris Weitz. Or, most likely, the stars have the confidence of now knowing that these films will be seen by millions and are feeling more comfortable stepping into the skin of the characters they'll be known as forever. Whatever the reason, every returning actor is better in this film than in "Twilight." Most notable is Taylor Lautner — who displays incredible screen presence and physicality in his first true starring role — and Kristen Stewart, who perfectly conveys the heartbreak and insanity of Bella's fractured mental state with every scream, sob and adrenaline-fueled wicked grin.
It Looks Great
Despite what some critics had to say, the original "Twilight" was charming because it felt like such an odd, low-budget take on a high-budget-aspiring franchise. Now, it seems, the little-film-that-could is all grown up. Weitz has hired some very talented CG masters to bring the wolves, vampires and cliff dives to believable life. The look of "New Moon" has an epic quality reminiscent of an old-fashioned event film. This plays perfectly for a saga about centuries-old vampires and "Romeo and Juliet"-esque sweeping romance. In short, the movie still didn't have a "Transformers"-size budget at its disposal, but Weitz put every penny he could up on the screen, and it shows.
It Sets Up "Eclipse" Perfectly
Many plotlines are set into motion that won't pay off until summer 2010, and the film ends with a minor but very important tweak. All in all, it satisfies but leaves you wanting more — particularly since the final line of the movie will stay with you long after the credits roll.
The New Characters Rock
Take a good look at any successful movie franchise from "Star Wars" to "Trek" to "Harry Potter," and you'll see the emergence of new key supporting characters in the sequels. Well, "New Moon" has plenty of Yoda-like standouts to choose from. The wolf pack start off like real jerks, but they eventually bring a lighthearted, frat-boy-like vibe that helps the film's tone immensely. The Volturi, meanwhile, completely hijack the final third of the film in the best way possible. As Aro, Michael Sheen gives a Walken-esque performance of over-the-top audacity, while Dakota Fanning is legitimately terrifying in a too-small role. Another inevitable fan fave is Daniel Cudmore's Felix, who doesn't get to speak much — but then again, he doesn't need to.
The Line Has Been Walked
Imagine how difficult it would be to take Stephenie Meyer's beloved novels, subtract enough to fit time constraints and add enough to make things more cinematic without angering the fanbase. Credit should be given to Weitz and screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg, whose additions and tweaks — a more visible Victoria, a more-involved Edward, a more playful Bella — are note-perfect. "New Moon" is a triumph for Twilighters.
MTV delves deep into the "Twilight" universe with two can't-miss specials tonight! "Love Bites" chronicles the budding rumored romance between Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart at 10 p.m. ET/PT, while "New Moon Revealed" will feature die-hard fans as they gather to meet the saga's stars Monday at 10:30 p.m. ET/PT.
Check out everything we've got on "The Twilight Saga: New Moon."
For young Hollywood news, fashion and "Twilight" updates around the clock, visit HollywoodCrush.MTV.com.