The Twilight Saga: Eclipse. 124 mins. PG-13. Directed by David Slade. Written by Melissa Rosenberg. Starring Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, Taylor Lautner, Peter Facinelli, Dakota Fanning, and Bryce Dallas Howard.
The Team Edward - Team Jacob rivalry is in full effect in this the third, and best, of the Twilight movies. "Best" is a word that should be used loosely though. We're three films in now, and despite the fact that a different person has directed each one, the movies are still all essentially the same. And though they've been improving, those improvements have been small - nearly invisible. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for the fandom that these books/movies have inspired in teenage girls. I like the fact that those girls are so passionate about something pop culture-related. I just wish the product was better. Book loyalists may disagree with me, but I am now convinced that there is not enough substantive plot to carry four - make that five (Breaking Dawn is split in two) - movies.
Eclipse thankfully finds our teenage protagonist, Bella (Kristen Stewart), in a much better mood than in New Moon. The oh-so-dreamy vampire Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) is back, after an extended self-imposed exile, and the two are getting married. This doesn't sit so well with the oh-so-buff werewolf Jacob (Taylor Lautner), who is convinced that Bella actually loves him. When not focusing on the love triangle, Eclipse follows a group of newbie vampires, led by the curly, red-headed Bryce Dallas Howard, as they make their way toward Bella - out to kill for revenge. It builds to a chaotic, blood-free action finale.
If I've made the movie sound exciting at all, please forgive me. Eclipse is not that exciting. Like Twilight and New Moon, it moves at a snail's pace for most of its running time. This allows the actors plenty of time to swoon and brood - and that's pretty much all they do. No sex here. Even when the three get in a tent and Jacob takes his shirt off to keep Bella warm (cue the people in my audience: "take your pants off too!"), there's no hanky panky. That scene, by the way, is probably the best in the movie. Bella is sleeping and Jacob and Edward calmly talk through their issues with each other and, dare I say, bond?
Director David Slade clearly knows his way around vampires now, after this and his last flick, 30 Days of Night. Still, it's sort of disappointing to think that this was the guy who gave us the criminally underseen Hard Candy, featuring a pre-Juno Ellen Page. Hard to believe that guy is now directing a toothless Twilight flick. As for the acting, the trifecta of Stewart, R. Pattz, and Taylor Lautner do have talent, but you'd never guess it from watching this.
I want to like these Twilight movies - I really do. I enjoy going to the midnight screenings and seeing the crowd get worked up. Yet, I've found that the girls who love these movies recognize the fact that they're not that good, and it doesn't matter - the power of Twilight compels them and renders their critical defenses worthless. Not mine. But I'm in this for the long haul now. The hiring of Gods and Monsters and Dreamgirls director Bill Condon for Breaking Dawn was sort of a catch. I'm intrigued to see how this franchise finishes.
Oh, and for the record, I'm Team Jacob.