Twilight Saga, The: Eclipse (2010)

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

                  

Starring:  Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Xavier Samuel, Billy Burke, Justin Chon, Anna Kendrick, Michael Welch, Christian Serratos, Jackson Rathbone, Ashley Greene, Peter Facinelli, Elizabeth Reaser, Kellan Lutz, Nikki Reed, Bryce Dallas Howard, Jack Huston, Dakota Fanning, Cameron Bright, Julia Jones.
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Director:  David Slade
Rating:  PG-13
Running Time:  122 Mins.
Release Date:  June 30, 2010
DVD Release Date:  December 4, 2010
Box Office:  $300.5 Million
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Temple Hill Entertainment, Maverick Films, Imprint Entertainment, Sunswept Entertainment and Summit Entertainment.

Written by:  Melissa Rosenberg, adapted from the novel “Eclipse” by Stephenie Meyer.

“You wouldn’t have to change for me, Bella…” – Jacob (Taylor Lautner).

After we first met Bella and Edward, and the debate raged over Team Jacob vs. Team Edward, I can finally throw out a recommendation to see a “Twilight” film.  In fact, watching “Eclipse”, the third installment in “The Twilight Saga”, I left with some reserved optimism that with this film, and the upcoming 2-part “Breaking Dawn” conclusion, devoted followers of the “Twilight” books may get a decent set of “Twilight” movies after all.But let me further define those hopes as reserved.  Many of the flaws which anchored down the first two films are still present here.  Engaging dialogue is juxtaposed with groan-inducing moviespeak and stretches of the film once again get bogged down in thick and cumbersome exposition.  But the one thing “Eclipse” has far and above the other films so far is a tangible pulse and rhythm.  Director David Slade and screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg have incorporated genuine attempts at humor, for example, which help punctuate the experience in a manner not yet seen in this particular saga.

“Eclipse” opens with Bella (Kristen Stewart) considering vampire Edward’s (Robert Pattinson) marriage proposal, while recognizing that her werewolf friend Jacob (Lautner), has an increasing and almost insufferable crush on her.  That it is also senior year at Forks High School only accelerates and complicates matters for our three main characters.  Bella and Edward are talking about marrying and beginning life immortal, while Jacob seeks ways in which to convince Bella to stay mortal.

Lest we forget the vengeful vampire, Victoria (Bryce Dallas Howard), who seeks to kill Bella as retribution for Edward’s brothers killing her boyfriend, James.  With a rash of murders suddenly occurring in the Seattle area, Victoria has recruited Riley (Xavier Samuel), a Newborn vampire, to help formulate a new army of vampires to kill Bella and end the Cullens once and for all.

The animosity and intensity over Bella’s love, as well as between werewolf and vampire, only escalates tensions between Edward and Jacob.  Yet, when the Seattle murders start hitting closer to home, Jacob and his werewolvian brothers forge an alliance with the Cullens, in an effort to first and foremost save Bella and to also end any possible threat to their small little town.

Credit must be given to director David Slade, an accomplished music video director known for some edgy and unsettling videos for artists like Aphex Twin, Tori Amos, Muse, and Stone Temple Pilots, among others.  While the movie looks incredibly similar to its “Twilight” counterparts and does not stray from the now-standard art direction and design, there’s a different cadence to the proceedings.  Simply stated, the movie just looks and feels better, certainly and most appropriately from a visual standpoint.

What Slade cannot seem to clean up and fix are the issues with Melissa Rosenberg’s simplistic and strained writing.  Hitting more often than missing here, she still seems to struggle in helping us dig beneath the surface on the characters’ motivations and behaviors.  We still have long dialogue-heavy journeys to take, but thankfully there are less of them.  We are treated to a couple of intriguing flashbacks, making things feel somewhat fresh and different.  And as stated previously, this is the first film which has a sense of humor about it; a trait confusingly absent in the prior films.  Yet, still problematic is the feeling that Rosenberg simply cannot allow herself to trust “Twilight” viewers to be able to draw simple and causal links on these characters.  And if you cannot trust these devoted followers to dig deeper on their own, then perhaps Ms. Rosenberg would be best served to rethink her approach.

Yes, it grows wearisome hearing Bella and Edward and Bella and Jacob talk over and over again about who loves who and how much.  Yes, it is frustrating that everyone acts impulsively and no one stops and thinks about things before they do them.  And yes, it is still rather confusing that 3 movies and 6 hours into this five-part saga, I still do not really like the main characters all that much.

But strictly speaking, in terms of analyzing and looking at “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse”, this is something more like I expected from the outset.  For the first time in this series I was never bored, found the visual effects passable and the action sequences acceptable.  Technically sound, with a dusting of humor amidst the melodramatic love story, “Eclipse” sets the stage for the upcoming 2-part “Breaking Dawn” finale reasonably well and may have saved up just enough in the tank to be a pretty good conclusion to the series.

Should I See It?

YES

If you’re reading this, you will have watched the movie, are going to watch the movie, or are headed out for a second time.

This is the first “Twilight” movie I can recommend, and it exhibits likable qualities even if the main characters remain people I would never personally associate with.

More box office means more budget, and the film is technically accomplished and a little bolder and riskier than its predecessors.

NO

Still not a fan and/or were turned off to the whole franchise by either its status in pop culture or that subpar second film.

Vampire overkill has set in.

The movie is a little more grown up for younger viewers in terms of violence and love scenes.  So, be cautious if you are sensitive to those things.

For a lot of viewers, hearing Bella and Edward and Jacob go on and on about who loves her more and who she loves more will just make people annoyed and angry, especially with the frequency it occurs here.