To say that the third installment in the Twilight Saga is the best one is like saying the Korean War was the best war, or that syphilis is the best STD. Not to mention that it’s impossible to honestly say that Eclipse is the best movie of the three because it lacks something fundamental to the first two: the ability to mock it. Twilight and New Moon were laughably bad. Eclipse is just downright boring.
Based on Stephanie Meyer’s third book, Eclipse was reportedly the weakest in the series, lacking the plot developments and stirring scenes that so ably moved the other novels along to their frustrated climaxes. But Eclipse takes teenage angst to a whole new level. Here you have hours (or pages, depending on your poison) of Bella (Kristen Stewart) trying to decide her future. Will she find happiness in the cold arms of vampire Edward (Robert Pattinson) or in the abs — I mean arms — of werewolf Jacob (Taylor Lautner).
Who cares? Sitting through this drivel is akin to slowly having your soul sucked out through your eyeballs. Melissa Rosenberg’s script is just one conversation rehashing the same points over and over again. It’s like watching a long, dull therapy session. Bella whispers with Edward. Bella pleads with Jacob. Bella sulks around her father. Rather than try to recap the boring plot, it’s better to think of Rosenberg’s script for Eclipse as if it were a literal video:
Dramatic opening featuring overacting. Enter heartthrob shimmering in sunlight. Enter girl every teenager in audience wishes they could be. Angst. Pouting. Enter second heartthrob. Abs. More angst. Wooden delivery of lines. Giant wolves. Flashback. Period costumes. Vague references to previous films, but no explanation because everyone saw them. Slipping accents. Sexual tension. Chivalrous heartthrob. Mormon-laced morals. Abs. Strange threesome-like scene. Final battle. Heroes in field of flowers.
Even giving director David Slade (30 Days of Night, Hard Candy) the benefit of the doubt with the source material, he’s still made a lousy movie. The fight scenes could be brief gems – glittering in the light like a vampire in the sun – but they’re too quick to be anything more than teases. And there’s no real tension or suspense. Instead, all of the emphasis is placed on Bella’s wavering between two men and the different directions they represent. Should she side with the shirtless werewolves, or the (thankfully) always-clothed vampire?
The talent that Stewart has displayed elsewhere is nowhere to be seen in Eclipse. She mumbles her way through the film relying on pouts and downward glances. Even her final speech lacks any passion as she declares her decision. Lautner is clearly trying to emote more believably, but he’s just not there yet. And Pattinson seems to be relying on big hair to overshadow his lackluster performance.
For all the hubbub made about Bryce Dallas Howard replacing Rachelle Lefevre as the evil Victoria, you have to wonder why they bothered. Since Victoria’s role in Eclipse is little more than running through the woods, it’s hard to judge if Howard brings anything special to the role. Jackson Rathbone, as Jasper, features more prominently than before, but his accent is so spotty that it’s a distraction even from his Carrot Top-like hair.
Frankly, the most interesting thing Eclipse has going for it is a sociological study of the mania this series has spawned. For instance, Edward forcibly rejects Bella’s advances, saying that he doesn’t want to endanger her soul by having premarital sex. The same audience that was clapping, hooting and hollering as the characters got it on only seconds before is now cooing at the ”gentleman vampire.” It’s a heavy handedness representative of Meyer’s Mormon faith that makes the Pope look like Madonna (the contemporary one).
Another scene ripe for dissection is a protracted conversation between Bella and Jacob, which takes place while he is literally carrying her off to safety. The cuddling of Bella like a child in need of protection is only outdone by the next scene in which Jacob spoons her to provide the warmth needed to survive the night, as Edward watches them in dismay. Awkward!
If that’s not enough, the phenomenon of an audience comprised of mothers and daughters clad in matching Twilight t-shirts (some strategically and tragically ripped) should be more than enough for a dissertation.
The final film, Breaking Dawn, will be broken into two films and perhaps Eclipse was the necessary vehicle to move the plot forward. But every time that Bella wavers between playing for Team Edward or Team Jacob, you just wish Buffy would come out, kick her ass, and declare ”Team Angel” the victor.
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