Twilight Saga: Eclipse Review

the poster from the Summit Entertainment film Eclipse

As you will know, if you have been reading this blog for any length of time, I am not a fan of the Twilight books. This puts me in a group that represents approximately .0001% of the female population, most of the rest of whom live in caves or can’t read. And yet I not only went to see The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (unnecessarily long title, much?) but am now reviewing it. Has the world gone mad? Well, yes, but that’s not why I did it. I did it because I’m a movie reviewer, and Eclipse is a movie.

For those of you who are in the caves portion of the .0001%, here is what Eclipse is about:

Bella, a human girl, has to get her boyfriend Edward and his vampire clan to co-operate with her almost-other-boyfriend Jacob and his wolf pack in order to fight off an army of evil vampires.

See? As a movie it sounds not awful. This is because there were actually some decent ideas in the Twilight books that were dragged down by poor execution. (Speaking of executions, I’d better say goodbye now before the Twilight fan club shows up at my door to lynch me for the previous statement). Any half decent screenwriter should have been able to extract these ideas and turn them into a pretty good movie.

So let’s see how Eclipse’s director (David Slade) and screenwriter (Melissa Rosenberg) did.

Thankfully Slade and Rosenberg realized that religiously following the book (as millions of fans were clamoring for them to do) was a bad idea given Stephenie Meyer’s tendency to bend over backwards to avoid writing fight scenes. Though Bella (the book’s perspective character) is still squirreled away on a mountaintop for the big battle…

Bella in a tent from the Summit Entertainment film Eclipse

*Yawn* I wonder if it’s over yet.

They cut back to show the others fighting the big battle. Which is awesome! I love big battles, and big battles featuring giant wolves and people with superpowers are even awesomer than your usual action movie gunfights. They also used this really cool ice-like shatter-effect when the vampires get their limbs ripped off that they didn’t have for the other movies.

Riley and Victoria fighting Edward from the Summit Entertainment film Eclipse

Dammit, I knew I shouldn’t have had that liquid nitrogen facial!

The evil vampire army is led by a guy named Riley. As soon as I saw Riley I got that annoying nagging feeling that I’d seen him before. In a total freaky fluke, it just so happened that he was the fourth recognizable boy from the Australian surfing movie Newcastle. I thought maybe he looked like someone else like the rest of them did but thankfully it was actually the same actor (Xavier Samuel) this time.

Fergus from the film Newcastle and Riley from the Summit Entertainment film Eclipse

He has cooler hair as Fergus, I think.

Riley is ostensibly the leader of this vampire army…

the newborn army from the Summit Entertainment film Eclipse

…well, it’s really more of a vampire gaggle but that doesn’t sound as menacing…

… but he’s really being manipulated by Victoria, the bad guy (girl) from the last movie (New Moon). This, along with the fact that they never come right out and say that some of the vampires have superpowers makes it a little confusing if you haven’t seen the first two. The presence of the Volturi, the vampire ruling class, make it even worse, since they’re just there for no reason, and only one of them Jane (Dakota Fanning) ever says or does anything.

The Volturi from the Summit Entertainment film Eclipse

I’m just more menacing with a posse

Of course, the battle stuff is only there to tie together the love story between Bella (Kristen Stewart) and her century-old vampire boyfriend Edward (Robert Pattinson). If the fans had it their way, the entire movie would consist of them kissing and spouting gooey declarations of love… which is pretty much what the book is like.

Edward and Bella from the Summit Entertainment film Eclipse

BELLA: I love you for ever and ever and ever!
EDWARD: No, I love YOU for ever and ever and ever!
(paraphrased from the book)

Their love story is complicated by the fact that wolf-boy Jacob (Taylor Lautner) is also in love with her. This could have made everything even more overwrought and annoying but thankfully Melissa Rosenberg chose to throw in some jokes to lighten the angst.

Jacob carrying Bella from the Summit Entertainment film Eclipse

EDWARD: “Doesn’t he own a shirt?”

These jokes also serve to give Bella more of a personality than she ever had in the books. She goes from a melodramatic cardboard cutout with no self preservation instinct to a feisty, logical young woman who actually has something to contribute. Edward tries to woo her into marrying him…

Bella's ring from the from the Summit Entertainment film Eclipse

(with the ugliest ring ever made, I might add)

…but Bella’s having none of it unless he caves and makes her a vampire.
EDWARD: “In my time, this is how we say ‘I love you.’”
BELLA: “Yeah, well, in my time it’s how we say ‘I just got knocked up’

These two the main draw for all the lovestruck teenagers in the audience, but by far the most interesting characters in the film are Jasper (Jackson Rathbone) and Alice (Ashley Greene).

Jasper and Alice from the Summit Entertainment film Eclipse

Jasper is a former general in the vampire wars, and Alice can see the future

There’s a bit of their back story in this movie which just makes me wish they’d made a movie about these two rather than Edward and Bella, who are downright boring in comparison.

Still, Stephenie Meyer is such a genius puppetmaster of teenage girls’ emotions and pocketbooks…

The Quelutes from the Summit Entertainment film Eclipse

She invented a whole race of attractive men who are physically incapable of wearing shirts, for crying out loud

… so there’s always hope she’ll see the moneymaking potential in the Jasper/Alice angle and exploit it.

For now, though, we’ll have to deal with the Edward/Bella stories, and while I wouldn’t recommend the books to anybody, you could do a lot worse than seeing the movie thanks to the improvements David Slade and Melissa Rosenberg have made to the story.

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