The Twilight Saga: Eclipse – Review


The Good, The Bad, and The Vampire-y

It’s an unavoidable fact that Bella Swan is the worst character ever. As the heroine (sort of) of the Twilight series, Bella (played by Kristen Stewart) is not someone who should be lionized for her stance on womanhood. Her desires are so skewed that it is easy to confuse her for a teenage girl from the 1950s. The type of girl that believes having a man will solve all of her problems. A crazy notion to be sure, but with impressionable teens – and the popularity of the books and movies – it may be the end of Ms. Independent and the death of feminism. And just when we think Bella can’t be any vainer, she also wants to be converted. Not to Catholicism or Judaism, but to Vampirism. All because she fancies a vampire named Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson). There’s just something about the glint in his eyes and the way he sparkles in the sunlight. Not radiates – but “sparkles.” Clearly, Bella is someone who hears “Endless Love” on the radio and thinks, OMG that is so me and Edward.

While Bella is the central character in the Twilight books, she is by far the most fruitless. And yet she finds herself in a love triangle. Besides her and Edward, there’s Jacob (Taylor Lautner), a Native American with 8-pack abs who can shape shift into a wolf. So her options involve either necrophilia or bestiality – how wonderful. The film-makers use subterfuge to tone down the dark sexual desires, making the movies nothing more than PG-13 oriented Harlequin romances with a tinge of the supernatural. Though compared to her male counterparts, Bella is the most insolent when it comes to love. Jacob may preen around without a shirt on, but he’s a protector of the purist kind – and warm to the touch – and Edward is the one who shies away from Bella’s coitus advances, preferring to wait after they are married. Is this to imply that chivalry is undead?

When we open on Eclipse, Bella and Edward are sitting in a field of colorful flowers and Bella is reading the Robert Frost poem “Fire and Ice.”

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

Going by this poem, there’s no mistaking who Bella favors in the triangle. By movie’s end, though, you’re wondering if she should have considered “The Road Not Taken” instead.

Coming from someone who proclaimed New Moon as “Romeo & Juliet if Shakespeare had a lobotomy,” Eclipse came across as a surprise. The dialogue is still horrible, the acting effort put forth was evidently practiced in wood shop (instead of drama class), and Howard Shore’s musical score is usurped by ear-grating college radio rock. Even with these faults, the movie is at times more engaging and energetic than its predecessors because it has a stronger narrative.

Stephenie Meyer may say in interviews or at book signings that Eclipse is all about the virtues of chastity, but who is she trying to kid? Sex and the female form is what this movie is all about. Edward and Jacob are weak in the knees for Bella, and she’s jonesing for a cuddle buddy. Even the red-headed vampire temptress, Victoria (Bryce Dallas Howard), uses her sexuality to bend the wills of men she has taken a bite out of.

The love triangle nearly becomes a threesome when all three end up in a tent. Bella’s asleep, leaving Edward and Jacob to have a heart-to-heart talk about the very disturbed lass. Sadly this love triangle is too played out. Even those unfamiliar with the books can easily see who is going to be victor. Bella just prolongs the agony of refusing to cut the cord and let the other suitor go.

Away from this romance is a storyline stemming from revenge. Victoria, the red-haired vampiress, is readying an army of “newborn” vampires to wipe out Bella and the entire Cullen clan. Included in that army is her love monkey, Riley (Xavier Samuel). Jacob’s wolf clan and the Cullens make a short truce to face off against Victoria’s brood and keep Bella safe. Watching from the sidelines is the vampires’ ruling council, the Volturi, though their motives are unclear.

When Sony Pictures decided that they wanted a new spin for the Spider-Man franchise, they booted Sam Raimi and hired Marc Webb, based on his film (500) Days of Summer, which tapped into the conflicted nature of a failed relationship. For Eclipse, the producers got a director who had experience with making a vampire-themed film. David Slade’s 30 Days of Night was R-rated horror with a different set of bloodsuckers. The tone of Eclipse is nowhere near that dark, but it contains more action than Twilight and New Moon combined. More action means more sequences involving handheld camera movements, swish pans and quick cuts; it makes it hard to decipher certain attacks but it does help to disguise the sloppy special effects.

The acting is what we’ve come to expect. Kristen Stewart appears to be sleepwalking through her performance as Bella, because she has shown that she has ability. Robert Pattinson needs to refrain from being a James Dean impersonator and be his own man. The big joke with Taylor Lautner is his radical change from the first and second films. A true karate kid – he’s been studying since he was six – he probably has a good chance of being an action star. Chicks dig his looks and guys are studying on how to get those chiseled abs. And he seems to be the only one of the three that’s trying to improve with each movie – shirt or no shirt.

If you are late to the Twilight hysteria and not already a Twi-hard, Eclipse may not convert you. Fans will no doubt howl in delight, if they’re part of Team Jacob; or they’ll be wishing Edward made a “total eclipse” of their heart.

Director: David Slade
Notable Cast: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Billy Burke Bryce Dallas Howard, Dakota Fanning
Writer(s): Melissa Rosenberg, based on the novel “Eclipse” by Stephenie Meyer

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