Twilight: Eclipse, aka the pretentiously titled The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, is the third movie in what will be a five film series (the final book, Breaking Dawn, will be split into two movies in order to milk the cash cow as much as possible before it’s all over). I was fairly forgiving with my review of the first film, found the second one to be pretty awful, but found this one to almost, sorta be a good movie.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with David Slade, he’s the guy who directed a real vampire movie called 30 days of Night. While not the greatest vampire flick ever, it had an interesting concept, vampires that were actually scary and plenty of gore that one would expect when humans encounter ravenous vampires not concerned about blending in to society. So when it was announced he would be directing this film, horror fans were a bit intrigued (if confused) by his decision to tackle this franchise.
The opening scene of the film is a definite departure from the previous two, taking place late at night on the rain-soaked streets of Seattle. A young man is being stalked by something dark and fast, and when he’s finally attacked, he lays writhing on the ground letting out a horrific scream. It’s a pleasant change from the first two films.
Sadly, from there we cut directly to Edward (Robert Pattinson) and Bella (Kristen Stewart) once AGAIN lazing about in an open field of pretty flowers (it gave me flashbacks to Anakin and Padme). And yes, Edward “sparkles” here. Thankfully we pretty much get most of the “sparkle” thing out of the way right here. Bella is still bugging Edward to make her a vampire and he’s finally decided to agree – IF she marries him. She is hesitant about marrying him for some reason, while having no problem joining the ranks of the undead.
Bella’s father (Billy Burke, the most enjoyable aspect of the series to date) is concerned that she is spending all her time with Edward and has no life, even ignoring her friends. He pushes her to see Jacob (Taylor Lautner), with whom she hasn’t spoken in quite a while due to their falling out in the previous film.
Meanwhile, something fishy is going on in Seattle, with many people going missing and others being murdered. The authorities don’t know if it’s gang related or the work of some very busy serial killer. It turns out that vampire-chick Victoria (whose lover was killed by the Cullens) is bent on revenge, and is building a “Newborn” vampire army. Newborns are freshly created vampires, and they are much stronger and savage than vampires who’ve been around for a while. It seems the first two months as a vampire makes you crazy, super-strong (more than usual) and reckless. The Volturi (led by Dakota Fanning) seem to either have a hand in this, or are just letting it happen despite the risk of bringing vampires to light (so to speak).
It’s in this film that the love triangle between Edward, Bella and Jacob comes to a head, with Jacob trying a last ditch effort to when her over. It seems that part of his strategy is to appear in every scene in the film shirtless… Despite the fact that Bella has feelings for him, her feelings for Edward are stronger and much complication ensues.
Eventually the werewolves and the vampires must work together if they are to protect Bella from Victoria and her army of Newborns, despite their generations-deep hatred and distrust of each other.
So… we still have the huge, core problems with the story. WHY is Edward Cullen, a vampire who’s been alive for over 100 years, so insanely in love with this morose, uninteresting teenage girl who’s experienced nothing much in life? Not only does that give him the number one “creepy old guy” award (think about it – he looks young but the guy’s been around for 100+ years), but given his character and background as given in this film, you’d expect him to go for a sophisticated, worldly woman, perhaps in her early 30s.
Jacob, being a teen himself and having known Bella his whole life, I can see being attracted to her. But speaking of Jacob, if Lautner didn’t have his personal trainer’s results going for him, there’d be nothing to the poor guy in this movie. His acting is so weak I feel sorry for the guy. Of course it’s kind of a good match for Stewart I suppose. Pattinson was OK, I guess, but it’s easy to be intense when you just furrow your brow in every scene.
Oh, and those guys in the Wolf Pack? Yeah, they still need to either hit the gym a little harder or cut down on the carbs.
I didn’t like the handheld camera during scenes where it was just actors talking – SO sick of that… like the cameraman has had too many beers and we’re experiencing his overly high blood alcohol level. Then there was also this really weird thing where when one of the newborns was killed or had a body part chopped off, the stump looked like it was crystallized stone or something. Bizarre and a cheap way to include lots of vampire/werewolf mayhem but avoid the blood that would freak out the teen girls who will show up in droves for this.
Oh, and there were so many close ups of so many different people making out that at one point a scene from The Princess Bride where a young Fred Savage questions his grandpa Peter Falk came to mind… “Is this a kissing book?”
On the other hand, David Slade actually raises the bar as much as he can given the material here. The visual effects are FAR better than in the previous two films (although we still have the “confetti pants” effect when there’s a transformation into a werewolf). The wolves look better and more real, and scenes with the vampires running at high speed, leaping, etc. are also vastly improved. Also much better are the action/battle sequences in the film.
Also interesting was some of the background on both individual characters in the film (going back to the civil war) as well as the history and origins of the bad blood between the vampires and werewolves. As mentioned above, Billy Burke brings some pleasantness to the screen every time he appears. Another unexpected but pleasant touch were a few moments of self-deprecating humor which I didn’t expect and actually got a laugh out of me.
Overall, I’m absolutely certain that Twilight fans will love the film, and for the boyfriends who are dragged along this will probably be the least painful experience yet (God bless you men).
Here’s a trailer for Twilight: Eclipse: