The Twilight Saga: Eclipse" Movie Review (2010)

7/02/2010 Posted by Admin

"The Twilight Saga: Eclipse"

Movie Review

Directed by David Slade, Written by Melissa Rosenberg, 124 Minutes, Rated PG-13

By our guest blogger, Rob Stammitti

Well, this is a pleasant surprise. The previous "Twilight" films are rather dreary affairs--soapy, immature and often laughable despite their admirable direction and acting. Not terrible, but not much more than what you'd expect. Just sappy adaptations of what amount to little more than teen romance novels with vampires in them. But "Eclipse," the third entry in the series, manages to transcend the soapiness of its predecessors and work quite well as an engaging story about sacrifice, romance and, interestingly, the inner conflicts of the undead. And all somehow without scene after scene of brooding men with their shirts off.

Picking up pretty much where "New Moon" left off, "Eclipse" follows Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart), the moody and lovestruck high school senior who has found herself in danger due to her romance with vampire Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson). Last we saw them they were dealing with the consequences of their relationship--the royal vampire family, the Volturi, demanded Bella be turned into a vampire or killed. Bella and Edward have yet to live up to their oath, because, despite Bella's constant urging to be turned, Edward fears for her soul--but mostly he just wants to marry her first. All of this is made difficult with Bella's growing sexual tension with her childhood friend, Jacob (Taylor Lautner), who happens to be a werewolf who hates vampires. Come on, folks, this may be the best of the bunch, but it's still just a soap opera with monsters in it. Love triangles come with the territory.

Some extra conflicts pop up involving a streak of killings perpetrated by a group of newly turned vampires, and its discovered that the villain of the first film, Victoria (here played by Bryce Dallas Howard, though a different actress portrayed her the first time around) is forming an army to avenge the death of her lover from the first film.

Yeah, this is still pretty soapy.

The main difference between "Eclipse" and its predecessors, though, is that it actually manages to get really operatic--without the soap, that is. The emotions finally feel real, if a bit childish (and sometimes in Jacob's case, downright creepy), and it actually feels as if things are at stake here. Charming vignettes detailing the past of some of the supporting characters provide themes of love and manipulation more effective than anything explored in the previous features, and even those who accuse the series of misogyny (myself included, in many cases) may be struck dumb by one of Stewart's final lines in the film, which gives her character real motivation and her situation real urgency. Unlike the other films, she's not just a cardboard cutout for gawking teenage girls in the audience to project themselves onto.

But much of the film's success comes from its director, David Slade, easily the finest maestro to tackle the series so far, who gives the film a great style that mixes the romance and melodrama and the excitement of the action quite well. Another big improvement of the film is its humor, with a lot of cheeky, self-referential jokes here and there (Edward, referring to Jacob's McCaunaghey-esque gratuitous shirtlessness: "Does he even own a shirt?") and some clever dialogue on display from most of the characters.

But let's not go overboard. "Eclipse" is an improvement. Is it a great film? I wouldn't go that far--it's sweet, it has decent action for the first time in the series, the emotions finally seem human, and even the soapiness is enjoyable this time around. But the flaws that are prevalent in the first two still rear their ugly heads here. The acting can get a bit stale, perhaps due to the writing, but it's stale nonetheless. The romance (the triangle especially) is a little grating and cornball, despite Slade's finest efforts to undermine the melodrama with his solid direction. Hey, the soap is ingrained in this story. No matter who you bring in to direct it, it's still there.

Still, it's hard not to respect "Eclipse" for improving so vastly on the other films. It'll definitely keep the big fans fawning, it won't necessarily bore the boyfriends to tears, and it's not so emotionally false as to be offensive anymore. It's a decent, if not strong, piece of entertainment, which is about the best you can ask of a soap opera. With sparkling vampires.

Grade: B-

View's video preview below. What did you think of the film?

Twilight: Eclipse Preview from Christopher Smith on Vimeo.

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  1. Tom Graczkowski said...

    Although I'm not super excited about the film, after reading your review I just might check it out. ;)