Movie Review - The Twilight Saga: Eclipse
By Matthew Huntley
July 7, 2010
Let’s face it: the Twilight movie series, on a whole, isn’t very good. I can’t speak for the books, but the movies are slow, unimaginative and sort of half-baked as far as quality goes. It’s unsettling to think that the millions of fans who see them, especially impressionable young girls, aren’t mindful of their flaws. Then again, their shortcomings may not be as obvious to girls who flock to the theater just to gaze upon the actors’ shiny faces. For a lot of them, as long as Edward or Jacob is onscreen, the movies can do no wrong.
Oh, but they can. The movies are cheap, bland and either have the look of an expensive soap opera or a cheap Hollywood feature - you decide. Although I mildly enjoyed New Moon for its action and conflict, my minimal appreciation for the saga has now subsided with Eclipse. What does “eclipse” even mean in the context of the movie? I’m sure millions of fans could fill me in. Or could they? Have they even thought about it?
The problem with this third installment is simple: the story is running out of gas and fails to stimulate us (not that it was ever groundbreaking). Instead of giving us new ideas and concepts to think about, we’re left to dwell on what we already know and learn about characters we don’t really care about. Simply, Eclipse is a bore, with long-winded dialogue that stretches for minutes on end. It’s also shot and edited lackadaisically. For a blockbuster movie with so much hype and such an enormous fan base, it sure has trouble finding a rhythm.
Eclipse picks up where New Moon left off. It opens with the heroine named Bella (Kristen Stewart) and her vampire-boyfriend, Edward (Robert Pattinson), lying in a flowery meadow. She’s reading poetry and he’s asking her to marry him. She denies his request unless he promises to change her into a vampire (Bella refuses to age while her undead beau stays the same).
Meanwhile, Jacob (Taylor Lautner), whom we learned was a werewolf in the last movie, tries to convince Bella to be with him. His argument is that he’s real and flesh. Plus, he can keep her warm in a snow storm, which we see later on. I guess his body gives off intense heat, whether or not he’s showing his fur.
This love triangle provides the movie its drama, but it’s not all that interesting or deeply felt. We’ve seen love triangles handled better on television. The plot and action center on an army of vampires being recruited by the ever vengeful Victoria (Bryce Dallas Howard), who wants Bella dead so Edward will feel the same kind of pain he’s caused her. Leading the army is an innocent-kid-turned-vampire named Riley (Xavier Samuel), who turns a whole slew of teenagers into vampire newborns. Newborns, we’re told, are stronger, hungrier and more powerful than those who’ve been vampires for centuries because their human blood still exists in their tissue (or something like that). To defeat the oncoming army and protect Bella, Edward and the Cullen clan reluctantly seek the help of Jacob and his werewolf pack. Just when you thought the drama couldn’t get any thicker… It’s just a shame the overall movie remains so thin.
All throughout Eclipse, the characters speak simplified, dumbed-down dialogue that goes on and on, and for what? It’s not like they’re saying anything profound, insightful or revolutionary. There’s some hackneyed talk about love, what’s in your heart, the usual; but it’s delivered so slowly and passionless by the cast that we hardly take it seriously. And despite the oncoming army of vampires, there’s no sense of urgency or tension. The movie is filled with so many reaction shots of Bella simply staring and reacting to others worrying about her.
The screenplay throws in some back stories about other members of the Cullen clan, but they don’t seem necessary since these characters aren’t very significant. Hitherto now, they’ve mostly been bystanders and it seems a little late to give them extra personality. The action during the climactic battle sequence is so-so, and the special effects have gotten better, but to what avail? There’s no looking past the one-note story and wooden performances.
There is one good scene worth mentioning, which gave me hope the series may come into substance one day. It takes place in a tent, where Edward and Jacob exchange words over which one of them loves Bella more and whether the two of them could ever be friends. Their dialogue is well-delivered and there’s some effective cutting between them and Bella, who is allegedly sleeping. This scene at least had some emotion to it and it starts with a sure-to-be classic line from Jacob: “I’m hotter than you,” which obviously calls attention to the media personas of the two actors.
With only two movies left, The Twilight Saga is running out of time to redeem itself. Sure, it will go down in the box office record books, but then so will Transformers 2. The series lacks the drama and intensity of other literary-based franchises. Years from now, unlike, say, Harry Potter, I doubt Twilight will be remembered as quality. Ever since the first movie, I’ve been waiting for the series to pick up steam and evolve into something beyond a tween sensation. After Eclipse, I’m still waiting and the future doesn’t look promising.