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3 reviews, 13 user ratings

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Twilight Saga, The: Eclipse
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by Peter Sobczynski

"The Dark Side Of The Mopes"
2 stars

On the one hand, “Eclipse,” the third installment of the insanely popular “Twilight” film franchise, is by far the best film of the series. On the other hand, that still doesn’t mean that it is a good movie by any stretch of the imagination. It is just as silly and turgid as its predecessors but, unlike the barely living dioramas that were the dreadful “Twilight” and the virtually unspeakable “New Moon,” it is a little more lively and energetic and isn’t nearly as much of a chore to sit through. It is still a bad movie, of course, but for the first time in the series, it actually feels like a movie and not just a collection of indifferently staged and executed reenactments of episodes from the books. This probably won’t make much of a difference for the saga’s most devoted fans, who have already demonstrated that their fanaticism could withstand two of the shoddiest blockbusters of recent years, but those who will wind up sitting through it despite have no stake in the franchise (no pun intended) will find it slightly easier to sit through, though it is extremely unlikely that it will make converts out of them.

Apparently assuming that the vast majority of the potential audience are already intimately familiar with the story, “Eclipse” plunges right in without stopping to offer a recap of previous events for those who either missed the previous films or have already forgotten what happened in them. (Those who lack a working knowledge of the films or books and who nevertheless want to see this are advised to rent the nearest 12-year-old girl to serve as a guide and interpreter.) As this one opens, the romance between glum-faced mortal Bella (Kristen Stewart) and glum-faced vampire Edward (Robert Pattinson) is as strong as ever with the latter promising, against his will, to transform his beloved into a vampire after their upcoming high school graduation. Complicating matters somewhat are Bella’s feelings for hunky teen wolf Jacob (Taylor Lautner), who cleverly distracts attention from his potentially glum face with his general refusal to ever wear a shirt. While Bella frets and mopes and mumbles about which of these mimbos she will give her heart (among other things) to, a string of brutal killings in Seattle appear to be the work of vampires and upon investigation by the entire Cullen clan, it appears that the evil Victoria (Bryce Dallas Howard) is creating a small army of violent Newborn vampires in order to kill Bella as a way of getting revenge on Edward for killing her beloved earlier in the series. In order to protect Bella--and yeah, the rest of the town--from an onslaught of undead Seattle hipsters, the Cullens and the local werewolf pack form an uneasy alliance to fend off this new enemy. Meanwhile, the mysterious vampire overlords known as the Volturi, led by pint-sized she-demon Jane (Dakota Fanning), are observing the proceedings from a distance. . .or are they more involved than they claim?

While even the finest filmmakers in the world might have been challenged to make something significant out of Stephenie Meyer’s puerile prose, the thing that made the first two “Twilight” films such excruciating chores to sit through was that they never felt like anything other than quickie movies ground out by producers eager to make a quick buck off of the phenomenon before the fans moved on to something more edifying, such as “True Blood” or law school--instead of the sumptuous treatment afforded to the Harry Potter franchise, where no expense was spared and no detail was overlooked, the films were exploitation-grade junk featuring sloppy storytelling, atrocious special effects and performances so lazy and sleep-inducing that it often seemed as if chunks of rehearsal footage had accidentally found its way into the final cut. “Eclipse,” on the other hand, feels as if it were designed to be a movie and not just another indifferently produced ancillary by-product and it is all the better for it. Director David Slade, previously responsible for the overrated “Hard Candy” and the overblown “30 Days of Night,” isn’t able to completely break free of the constraints of the story and the expectations of the fan base but a good portion of the scenes (especially the ones not involving the gooney love triangle) have a zing to them lacking in the earlier installments--the pacing is better and there are even a couple of brief moments where he allows a glimmer or two of humor and self-awareness to cut through the overly self-serious tone. Although some of the visuals are still a bit dodgy (Edward’s ability to sparkle like a Bob Mackie special in daylight looks as ridiculous as ever), the special effects and action sequences are generally better executed as well. Best of all, the introduction of the Newborns allows Slade to include something that the series has more or less avoided up to this point--scenes in which the vampires actually act like vampires in all their bloodthirsty glory, even though it must be said that the sight of an army of undead Seattle hipsters is only slight more terrifying than an army of living Seattle hipsters.

And yet, while “Eclipse” is certainly an improvement over what has come before it, it still isn’t really worth watching because all of the key problems from the earlier films are still on display here. The story is still as lifeless as many of its characters--even the weakest episode of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” did a better job of fusing together mythology, metaphor and teen angst than Melissa Rosenberg’s screenplay can muster up at even its best moments. It does try to broaden its scope a bit by introducing a bunch of new characters and indulging in long flashbacks in which some of the second-tier vampires talk to Bella about the circumstances of their transformations so as to inform her about the decision she is about to make regarding her own move from life to lifelessness but for the most part, these elements aren’t established very well and only serve to distract from the main thrust of the story. As for the various villains, they are all introduced in ways that make them seem as though they are going to be important to the story and then they are largely shunted to the side until it is time for the big finale. However, the biggest flaw is the same one that has plagued the other films--the inescapable fact that it is a tale of a grand romance that transcends life and death that is essayed by two actors whose performances and on-screen chemistry suggest that they are in the throes of a mild case of the flu instead of overwhelming passion. Granted, Bella and Edward are two of the least interesting characters to come along in a long time--she is a self-absorbed drama queen who just isn’t satisfied unless she is the center of everyone’s attention (even the valedictorian speech given by a fellow classmate winds up being pretty much all about her and her romantic travails) and he is a passive-aggressive bore who constantly bemoans her wish to join him in the undead but violently freaks out every time she so much as says “fetch” to Jacob--but casting actors as passive as Stewart and Pattinson does not help matter much. Together, they basically represent the most boring couple from your high school days and whenever they sit down to endlessly discuss the nature of their relationship--which is far too often--the film pretty much grinds to a halt. As for Lautner, his acting chops are so completely nonexistent that it is hard to get too upset with him since it is very apparent that he was cast for his wicked abs and not for his mad acting skills.

Make no mistake, “Eclipse” is a pretty bad film and unless you are part of the whole “Twilight” cult, there is no earthly reason why you should waste your valuable time on it when you could be doing something more productive, such as going to see “Toy Story 3” again or watching dull paint dry. However, I must concede that it does seem as if all involved at least tried to make a decent film this time around and while it never quite pays off, the result is at least slightly more bearable than expected. Who knows--if they keep going at this rate, by the time the series comes to its conclusion two films from now, it might actually culminate with something that really is worth watching after all. Hey, stranger, scarier and more delightfully unexpected things have happened before--it is just too bad that more of them couldn’t have found their way into “Eclipse.”

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=19720&reviewer=389
originally posted: 06/30/10 00:28:30
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2010 Los Angeles Film Festival For more in the 2010 Los Angeles Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2010 Astana International Action Film Festival For more in the 2010 Astana International Action Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

7/26/12 Venita Introduced the Volturi and a new but unsteady alliance with the cullens and wolves. 5 stars
5/18/12 Leah Kristen and Pattinson are dating in real life and in the movie, but it doesn't seem like it 1 stars
12/13/10 sandra dee better than new moon action wise, three main characters carry movie in to part 4, cool ! 4 stars
12/08/10 hunt a awesome movie with great action and effects. 5 stars
12/06/10 car a great sequel with a balance of action ,love, and some comedy. 5 stars
9/11/10 Nadine Russo Read the books. Really like these movies. 5 stars
8/06/10 naewar The best of the three. 4 stars
7/31/10 Cheryl W. Best of the three, but still lacking that something special. 3 stars
7/09/10 Melissa Roberge this is my favorite movie & its beats the other two by a long short its my new favorite mov 5 stars
7/08/10 christy spires Best one yet!! You can definitely tell they had more money to make this one! 5 stars
7/01/10 Ming This one is pacing a little better, but still with a lifeless story as the others 3 stars
7/01/10 Mauveen sadly missed the essential romance of this series 5 stars
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  30-Jun-2010 (PG-13)
  DVD: 04-Dec-2010


  DVD: 01-Dec-2010

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