Movie Review: 'The Twilight Saga: Eclipse'

Movie Review: 'The Twilight Saga: Eclipse'

Summary: It's the third time around for the werewolves and vampires of Forks, Washington.

Published June 30, 2010

Summary : It's the third time around for the werewolves and vampires of Forks, Washington. A breed of newborn blood-suckers want to destroy the vegan vampires of Forks and are out to kill Bella Swan, who is struggling with her love between Edward and Jacob. Who will Bella choose? Will she become a vampire? How many times will Taylor Lautner show his teenage abs? Does Robert Pattinson have abs and why isn't he at least flashing a nipple? These are the deep questions The Twilight Saga: Eclipse ponders.

Review : It doesn't matter what critics write about Twilight .   It has immunity from critics and a phenomenon never requires much work. The creators of Twilight aren't hustling to make a movie, they aren't concerned about a solid plot; the money was in the bank before the cameras started rolling. Like anything in life, if you know you don't have to work for something, then you're not going to try too hard. The only standard of this franchise is to pimp out the brown boy's abs and give the UK dude as much screen time as possible.

That said, Eclipse is an improvement from the ho-hum New Moon . Directed by David Slade , who was behind one of my favorite recent films, Hard Candy , Eclipse was edgier, darker and smarter than the sequel -- but not better than the first, which was only moderately enjoyable. Slade sprinkled some violent action with hardcore fighting scenes. Plus, the horror-ish presence of Dakota Fanning as Jane made the film a bit more sophisticated.

The most redeeming quality was giving the audience backstories for several other characters and a well-needed break from exhaustive dialogue between Bella and her supernatural love interests. We learn one vampire was forced into a life of blood cravings after being sexually assaulted, another lived during the Civil War, and we get the story of the indigenous werewolves of Washington. Finally, the wit goes beyond diary entries for a 14-year-old girl. These pieces helped make Eclipse watchable for those who aren't "Twihards."

Eclipse is a modest upgrade, but Robert Pattinson and especially Kristen Stewart looked bored with Edward and Bella. Stewart, who gave a memorable performance as Joan Jett in The Runaways , has true acting chops, but plays Bella like a female lead in a '90s grunge video. She trembles her lips, tucks her hair behind one ear and gives long stares. In The Runaways or even Panic Room , Stewart was enthusiastic and clearly putting some soul into her work.  She once described acting as being a "professional liar." Well, there are still two more Twilights to go -- suck it up and act like you want to be there!

Pattinson is slightly more engaged, but from his press interviews to his performance, he seems to not really understand or care why the movie is such a huge phenomenon (I'm with you Rob !). I am sure if Pattinson wasn't the star of Twilight he wouldn't have watched the film. The English actor, who is six years older than Lautner, seems more fitting for artsy Guy Ritchie films than disposable teen fluff.

Taylor Lautner is the strongest of the three, maybe because he is still a teenager. Lautner successfully makes some of his cheese ball lines believable. He enjoys Jacob, but is probably confident this role will not define his entire career.

Eclipse definitely has some major holes, for example, the cheap special effects that are similar to an annoying cough that you have to live with for two hours -- the lifeless werewolves are a celluloid disaster.

Don't forget the trite, redundant dialogue mixed with the way that each scene lazily flops together.

But, the most troublesome blow is the message of Twilight . I am not one to believe that films must maintain a moral code, but this flick clearly has an effect on young girls and women. On one hand, Eclipse has a message of pro-abstinence yet endorses a girl willing to abandon everything for a boy -- friends, mother, father, career and even her soul. This is a character whose only identity is her boyfriend. Again, I know this is just a film, but this is such an archaic and dangerous message conforming to the staid '50s stereotype that a woman should stand by her man even if it comes at the price of her soul. Bella Swan is a cinematic example. When scholars critique Twilight years from now (like Disney films were critiqued) she will be the archetype for the obsessive pitfalls of love; Bella sets women in film back 50 years.

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse is in theaters now.

Written by Clay Cane

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