I've never read a single word of any of the Twilight books. I found the first film to be a rote exercise in appealing to a demographic that was (and still is) in every quantifiable factor not me. I don't care about supernatural romance novels, and unless it's Jeff Goldblum and Gena Davis in The Fly, I don't much care for supernatural romances on film, either. Twilight exists and I exist, but we have little to do with each other outside of sharing the same planet.
I am, however, genuinely enthused to see New Moon. I'm as shocked as you. Let me explain.
Catherine Hardwicke is Gone.
Attack the source material and the fans all you want, but the biggest problem with Twilight is that it just was not an interesting film. Plenty of blame for that has been tossed around, but ultimately it lands on the shoulders of the director. Catherine Hardwicke is not an inherently bad filmmaker (Lords of Dogtown is a fine film) but she couldn't have taken a less enthusiastic approach to a story about the fantastic (note the order of words, as Twilight is not, I feel, a fantastic story). Exhibit A, the baseball scene.
Vampires using thunderclaps to cover up their baseball games isn't all that interesting to begin with, but I guarantee you that if Kathryn Bigelow had done it in Near Dark, it'd be a staple scene in vampire films. Hardwicke, however, either didn't have the vision or drive to elevate the film above the material, which is unfortunate. But now she's been replaced.
The Vampires Will Sparkle Less.
Let me be clear. The only time a vampire should sparkle is when it's shooting off sparks because sunlight has turned the wretched soul into a billowing pyre of flaming torment. That said, if a franchise's lore has vampires 'revealing their inner beauty' when they step into sunlight, I can come to terms with that so long as it doesn't look stupid; which is the nicest word I can summon to describe how the effect looked in Twilight. And considering new director Chris Weitz referred to a re-stylized sparkling effect as being born of R&D, that gives me hope that I won't cringe every time a vampire steps into the sun's warming rays. Though it does make me giggle that anyone had to do Research & Development to realize sparking vampires look stupid.
The Bump in Style.
The Cullens lived in a nice house, but other than that there was nothing at all visually stimulating about the production design of Twilight. New Moon, on the other hand, travels around the world, bringing with it some stunning new settings. But even the footage that takes place back in the dreary North West looks to have undergone a considerable improvement thanks to Chris Weitz's eye. The Golden Compass may not have fully deserved the Best Visual Effects Oscar it won, but it was still a very pretty picture to look at, so I'm glad to see that Weitz has brought some of that flare to New Moon.
Vampires Aren't the Only Non-Humans Around.
I hesitate to get excited about New Moon based on what appears to be far more werewolf activity than in the first film because, well, they don't appear to be werewolves. Instead, they look not all that different from the insta-transformation from man to big wolf with zero anatomical cross over we've seen in Blood & Chocolate. However, regardless of what werewolves actually look like in the film, at least they're there, because its vampires living in the cloudy northwest are dull (except when they sparkle; then they're sparkly).
And even if the werewolves aren't enough supplemental fantasy material, the Volturi look to be a thousand times more interesting than the vampires we saw in Twilight. I know nothing more about them than what's in the trailer, so learning what their deal is, is the most appealing prospect of New Moon to me. Unlike a lot of people, I'm not a vampire elitist, so I don't care if a story's undead follow the same rules as Dracula. All I care about is if the lore makes sense within the story and the Volturi, to me, are the first glimpse that New Moon has a higher story beyond lovers who can't be together.
Speaking of the Volturi, Michael Sheen plays their leader. Sheen's been around for years, and is certainly no stranger to performing in broad-appeal films, but his recent starring roles in Frost/Nixon and The Queen have made him one of my favorite character actors, making it a comfort to know that he's in the cast. Sometimes a great actor in a small, but good role can go a long way.
Watch Robert Pattison get Body Slammed.
Let's face it. If you've made it to the end of a list trying to explain why New Moon might be worth checking out, it's because you hate Robert Pattison. I don't know why you do, but you do. Sure, you probably hate his character of Edward Cullen, but I have little doubt that hate extends to the actor as well. So when you watch New Moon and it gets to the (presumably) climactic fight between Edward and a brooding Volturi, as seen in the trailer, just imagine that it is actually Robert Pattison getting choke-slammed into a marble staircase. Should make it worth while for most cynics.