by Mel Valentin
"The Twilight Saga: Eclipse" arrives in movie theaters only seven months after "The Twilight Saga: New Moon," the second film in Stephanie Meyer’s bestselling four-book series for young adults. Directed by David Slade ("30 Days of Night," "Hard Candy") from Melissa Rosenberg’s screenplay (her third time around with the "Twilight" franchise), "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse" offers more of the same for fans (e.g., melodrama, teen angst, werewolves vs. vampires [again], redundant, banal voiceover narration, etc.), but only marginal improvement story- and action-wise for non-fans. Given the size of the (mostly) teen fanbase for the book and film series, the absence of anything for non-fans will have relatively little box office impact. But that doesn’t mean you should see it. Far from it, actually.The Twilight Saga: Eclipse picks up where New Moon left off. Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) and her 100-year-old, fangless, sparkly vampire lover (and full-time possessive, controlling brooder), Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) are back together, frolicking in a sun-dappled field of irises. Bella still wants Edward to make her a vampire. He still doesn’t want her to convert her. Edward doesn’t want to take her away from her family and friends (a prerequisite if you cross over, apparently). He’s old school, as in 19th-century old school: marriage first, sex second (i.e., pro-abstinence). Bella still loves and lusts after Edward, but agrees to wait until they get married after she graduates from high school. Bella’s father, Charlie (Billy Burke),the Chief of Police for Forks, Washington, doesn’t approve of Bella’s overly intense relationship with Edward and wants her to cultivate her independence (not in Stephanie Meyer’s world, alas).
"Marginally better than its predecessors, but still superfluous."
Meanwhile, the perpetually shirtless Jacob “Six-Pack Abs” Black (Tyler Lautner), a member of a shapeshifting Quileute Indian tribe, still longs for Bella (this after Bella’s cruel emotional treatment of Jacob in New Moon). Despite all evidence to the contrary, Jacob firmly believes Bella loves him. He also believes, maybe rightly, that he’d make a better romantic partner for Bella. If she chose Jacob, she wouldn’t have to leave her family and friends behind. That’s not enough for Bella, who, despite spending the better part of The Twilight Saga: Eclipse’s 124-minute running time vacillating over her decision, remains with Edward, the one and only (and true) love of her life. Unsurprising since Bella always has been defined by her choice in mates and nothing else. On the plus side, Bella doesn’t spend most of the running time pining and whining about Edward as she did for New Moon’s seemingly interminable running time.
With David Slade directing, whose feral, bloodthirsty, slovenly vampires in 30 Days of Night were the opposite of the cultured, refined, non-human eating vampires in The Twilight Saga, Eclipse includes a running subplot involving newborn vampires in nearby Seattle led by Riley (Xavier Samuel) and Cullen- and Bella-nemesis, Victoria (Bryce Dallas Howard). Victoria still wants revenge for the death of her lover at the hands of the Cullen clan. Jane (Dakota Fanning), a member of the Volturi, the all-powerful vampire council, seems interested in the Cullens-Victoria conflict, but prefers to do nothing. Natural enemies, the Cullens and the werewolves, led by Sam Uley (Chaske Spencer), temporarily join forces to defeat Riley, Victoria, and their army of newborn vampires.
Slade and Rosenberg give Edward, his surrogate father, Carlisle Cullen (Peter Facinelli), Esme (Elizabeth Reaser), Jasper Hale (Jackson Rathbone), Alice (Ashley Greene), Emmett (Kellan Lutz), and Rosalie Hale (Nikki Reed), and the Wolf Pack four days to prepare for the life-or-death battle. The newborn vampire army has decided to walk from Seattle, rather than rent (or hijack) a bus or two. But story logic demanded that Bella, Edward, and Jacob have time to work out their romantic triangle (again) before (and after) the big battle. It’s dreary, repetitive, and ultimately pointless (because we’ve down this road before). There is, finally, one development that moves the story (slightly) forward: Bella graduates, inching her closer to getting married and becoming a vampire and living happily ever after with Edward."The Twilight Saga: Eclipse" finally has action scenes worthy of the word “action,” but Slade’s hamstrung by the decision made by "New Moon’s" producers to render the werewolves as computer animation. The Wolf Pack never looks realistic, often looking pasted into the action and the backgrounds. That the appearance of the werewolves didn’t improve from "New Moon" is only of "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse’s" major disappointments, but ultimately, it’s just another example of the mediocre storytelling, visually and narratively, that have plagued every entry in the "The Twilight Saga" series, something that’s unlikely to change for the fourth and (thankfully) last entry, "Breaking Dawn," which Summit Entertainment, inspired by Warner Bros. decision to release the final Harry Potter film in two parts this year and next, has decided to divide into two films to wring as much profit from the series as humanly (and maybe inhumanely) as possible.
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originally posted: 06/30/10 00:00:00