In order not to be repetitive and strive for a little bit of objectivity, I refused to read my review for New Moon, the second installment of the Twilight series. I walked in with an open mind and figured why not judge this one on its own merits? All three now have had different directors so maybe third time’s the charm? Unfortunately, even with a director who’s dealt with vampires before (30 Days of Night), David Slade seems totally short-changed with most of his inept cast and an even worse Melissa Rosenberg script than the first two.
With The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, it’s simply more of the same, take that for what you will. I know, I know, as I do remember saying in my New Moon review, I am far from the target audience. But if you’re going to be making these films for mass consumption the filmmakers must realize that they need to instill something that the rest of us can enjoy along with the rabid fans who take these books and films far too seriously.
In order to even know what’s going on in this installment it is imperative to have seen the first two. Oh sure, you’d hopefully not be watching Eclipse if you haven’t seen them but you never know, worse mistakes have happened. It’s the age old drama of necrophilia vs. bestiality as Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) still delivers her excruciatingly angst voiceover monologues pining away for both her beloved Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) and Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner).
There’s lots of talk about Bella being in love with both of them while the two of them argue with each other and try to make each the other jealous. It’s no wonder teenage girls love this stuff. It’s tailor made to fit their ill suited fantasies that will one day leave them hopeless and alone. Meanwhile there’s talk about an uprising army of newborn vampires being formed in Seattle lead by the hilarious (intentional or not) Riley (Xavier Samuel).
Whether or not the vengeful Victoria (Bryce Dallas Howard replacing Rachelle Lefevre) is behind the newborns or not is questioned over and over while the Volturi also reappear with Jane (Dakota Fanning) in the lead probably because she’s the only famous cast member in the Volturi clan whenever Michael Sheen is absent. Everything mounts to the climax as the wolves and vampires ban together to protect Bella for each their own lustful reasons (love, marriage, blood, what have you) and after everything is said and done it makes you wonder why a fourth entry is even necessary.
All the loose ends of the first three movies are tied up and over but I guess girls across the country really have themselves fooled into thinking they’re in this for the relationship. If this is what they want then they should have cried foul at the casting of mopey Stewart. She brings Bella “to life” with so much brooding that no matter how many online plot synopses I read describing Bella as a “normal teenage girl” I can’t help but wonder what either of the two dopey males want with her in the first place.
The first film meandered around with Bella’s longing for Edward while the second film was stuffed to the brim with monotonous montages. This time around, director Slade is made the brunt of the series’ joke as he gets to direct himself a whole lotta flashbacks. Anyone who doesn’t need a backstory gets one. From Rosalie (Nikki Reed) and her swinging prohibition days of overly theatrical revenge to Jasper’s (Jackson Rathbone) even more hilarious changeover during the Civil War. This being just one more nail in author Stephenie Meyer’s coffin as to whether her books are simply Sookie Stackhouse rip-offs. If Jasper doesn’t immediately make you think of Bill Compton after his flashback then my apologies, you’re reading the inferior series of vampire novels.
While the random scenes featuring no set-up continue to pile up and Slade tries to decide whether he wants to make a slick and polished production or get in the actor’s faces with the ol’ shaky cam, Bella gets to tell Jacob things like, “Stay!” and he gets to talk to her about the joy of “imprinting.” The subject of said imprinting also manages to get even more hilarious each time it’s brought up and at one point it seems like Jacob is on the brink of doing a little imprinting on Edward while the love triangle is holed up in a tent on an inexplicably snowy mountain top.
Gratefully Fanning gets to wear more clothes than she has lately; Lautner gets to keep his off, which admittedly was a pretty hilarious joke in Date Night; the wolves and vampires have a training sequence that’s even funnier than the baseball scene from the first film; Jasper suddenly gains a southern accent, and exposition rears its dull head at every turn. While Eclipse may be more boring than the first two installments, at least it’s far more amusing, even if it’s not intentional.
Photo courtesy Summit Entertainment