June 30, 2010
Review - " Twilight Saga: Eclipse " - (in theaters) By Roland Hansen
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Twilight saga: Eclipse
Directed by: David Slade
Starring: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Bryce
Dallas Howard, Dakota
Well, it only seems like yesterday that I was sitting here thinking about
New Moon and already the next instalment of The Twilight Saga,
Eclipse is getting ready to hit the big screen. But does it manage to
deliver in this packed summer season?
Well, the answer in short is yes, with Eclipse being not only the best
instalment of the franchise so far, but being a solid standalone movie
in its own right.
Set just a couple of weeks on from the events in New Moon, life has
settled back down in Forks and the romance of Edward and Bella
continues on much in the same vein, only with werewolf Jacob making
his feelings well and truly known.
Rivalries are soon put aside, though, when it is realised that a vampire
army is being created in Seattle by somebody wanting to come and
look for Bella. Knowing they cannot defeat this army themselves,
Edward's family turn to Jacob's tribe and the two form an unlikely
alliance to fend off the threat.
Straight off the bat this movie takes a turn from the rest in the series
and has a fantastic horror-themed opening which I really wasn't
expecting, and really shows that somebody new has taken over the
director's megaphone and isn't afraid to make a few changes. The new
head honcho is David Slade, who is best known for the wonderful Hard Candy and he's also got the vampire movie 30 Days
Of Night under his belt. As it turns out, he's exactly what the franchise needed.
From the trailers, you could see this was going to be a very different sort of Twilight film and I am glad that the series has
taken this turn from angst to action.
In the book there was a lot of back and forth with Bella and her two supernatural suitors and it did drag on and on and,
eventually, you were so fed up with her saying how beautiful Edward was you wanted to pick your copy of the book up and
hit her on the head with it. Thankfully, Melissa Rosenberg, who has adapted all the movies so far, has skipped the more
annoying parts of the romance and focused in on the heart of it, which really is all you need.
The most marked change, though, is the
action sequences, which are not only more
frequent than in the previous movie, but much
better directed and made with a substantially
bigger budget. They fill the screen well.
They've also spent a few extra quid on the
wolves, too, which look a lot less clunky and
not quite as badly fake as they were in New
Moon. Thus, when Jacob in wolf form is
standing next to Bella he hardly looks out of
place, and that's a solid step forward.
Another notable point is the fact that the team
has finally managed to get the sparkly/glittery
skin down, and it is no longer the glam fest
from the first movie, but we get a more subtle
and realistic glow which is a marked
Female fans of the franchise, who were ninety-nine percent of the audience on the night I saw the movie, should be satisfied
by a great deal of smooching between Edward and Bella. The blue-hued art direction and cinematography are show-
stoppingly beautiful. The proclamations of love leap right out of a romance novel (or Meyer's series), with innocence and
sacrifice professed in fields of wildflowers, spoken bare-chested amidst mountain ranges. Add a little danger, in the form of a
marauding bunch of vampires called "newborns," and the higher stakes make all that love feel desperate. If teen romance
turns drama into melodrama, then the added gravity here turns this melodrama into camp.
The main trio of actors is to be commended for delivering the marshmallow dialogue with the right sticky-sweet flavor. They
provide just enough breathless puppy love to make the young girls gasp.
There were certain scenes in the movie where vampires were attacking humans in extremely dark scenes, it why Slade was
brought into Eclipse and it’s what he does so well. There were a couple of lines in the movie which had the audience roaring
with laughter intentionally and that worked really well. Obviously there are the essential scenes of Taylor Lautner with his top
off which again, had the audience laughing, especially when Pattinson asks the question:
“Doesn’t he have a shirt?!”
And how faithful is the movie to the book? Screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg has done everything she can to overcome the
most popular criticism leveled at the series: namely, that Bella is too passive. Bella now speaks up when she’s angry, and
she plays a decisive role in the movie’s final battle. Rosenberg does a good job of creating scenes that aren’t portrayed in
the novel, in particular the back story of the vampire army. Best of all, the movie contains a lot of funny lines, something the
books and earlier two movies never quite manage. Even in the hugely anticipated “tent scene,” when Jacob has to crawl into
Bella’s sleeping bag to warm her up, he can’t resist getting in a wisecrack: “Face it,” he says to Edward, “I’m much hotter
Eclipse is typically least effective, though, when exploring the central "love triangle" - most likely because there's never any
real doubt which heartthrob the heroine will choose.
From her first appearance, Bella might as well be wearing a "Team Edward" T-shirt.
Since the love triangle is the whole point of the movie, the supporting actors don’t have a lot to do here. A couple of
standouts are newcomer Xavier Samuel, who plays his role of vampire fight king Riley with compelling, bloodthirsty
desperation, and Billy Burke as Bella’s father, whose palpable embarrassment at having to discuss safe sex with his
daughter is so excruciating you’ll be tempted to look away to give him some privacy.
The action in this movie is far better than the previous film. It is clear that Slade wanted to step up the editing which he did.
With this movie the wolves actually look authentic when they are fighting. The movie is filmed in a way that really captures
the action well and it will surprise many people due to its high quality. Also they finally get into some of the back story
surrounding some of the Cullen’s. The audience finds out the back story of Jasper played by Jackson Rathbone and Rosalie
played by Nikki Reed. Once you find out there back story it allows the audience to connect much better with these characters.
The biggest controversy with Eclipse was the replacement of the character of Victoria from Rachelle Lefevre to Bryce Dallas
Howard and, in fairness, it is a change that is barely noticeable (much to the credit of Howard, I might add). After her first
appearance on screen you forget it is a different actress and go with the flow.
Excellently paced, the film feels slightly less
than its 124 minute running time, but it packs
in the story well. My only major complaint is
that I thought the final ten minutes were a little
clunky and would not feel out of place in an
after-school special. Yet Eclipse still exceeded
my expectations, and should enthral fans of
the series and have them chomping on the bit
for the final two movies.
And who knows? It might even pick up a few
more fans along the way.
Eclipse isn't great, in that “the Academy will
be wetting their pretentious pants over it” kind
of way. But yes, I thoroughly enjoyed it. If you
liked... Twilight and The Twilight Saga: New
Moon... then you will enjoy this.
Bella continues to spar gently with Edward,
who resists "changing" her into a member of
the coldblooded Cullen clan - at least not
until they're properly married. (The immortal
Edward, according to teenager Bella, is
For the first time in the filmed series, Bella
seems to understand the implications of her
choice: saying goodbye to loved ones
(perhaps forever) so that she can spend
eternity with the high-school senior who is
really more than a century old.
The dilemma is hardly a new one in books
and movies featuring vampires, but
returning screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg
injects Bella's quandary with enough gravity
to make the second sequel play as a bit
more weighty then its predecessors.