Taylor Lautner, showing the people what they came to see in Twilight: Eclipse.
And so the critic-proof Twilight series continues. Perhaps it's because the previous installments were so bad that they had nowhere else to go except up, but this time around I was occasionally, if only mildly, entertained. I'm not going to say it was a good movie, but at least it's a less bad one than the first two.
Plot still isn't this series' strong point as this time all it consists of is Bella, Edward, Jacob and crew being threatened by a group of newborn vampires from Seattle that are secretly being lead by Victoria (the red-headed vampire from the previous films played this time by Bryce Dallas Howard). The rest is just filler as we learn some of the history of a few of the minor characters.
I think the biggest improvement is that the main characters seem to be slightly less annoying. Taylor Lautner and his buff physique still displays the most charisma of the three and is easily the most likable. The script manages to soften all of them a bit, mainly by providing a bit of humor this time around. "Doesn't he own a shirt?" Edward asks at one point in regards to the constantly shirtless Jacob. And, "You know I'm hotter than you" Jacob retorts later. Even the notoriously sulky Kristen Stewart almost smiles once or twice. Two of them even share a chemistry together. Sadly for Bella, it's Edward and Jacob that are the two. Their scene together in the tent immediately put me in mind of Brokeback Mountain.
Once again though, this movie pisses me off with its portrayal of vampires. I hate even calling them vampires since they have such little in common with real vampires. You never once see fangs in this movie. When several vampires are killed they break apart like they're made of stone. And for fuck's sake the vampires still glitter when they're walking around in the sunlight! These are rated-G, castrated versions of vampires made suitable for tween girl consumption. They bear as much resemblance to real vampires as your typical house cat does to a lion. As in the last film, it is only young Dakota Fanning who manages to come across as evil or threatening.
Although there's not enough of it, there is a bit more action this time around as well. The finale of the movie involves a battle involving vampires and werewolves. Because of the nature of these movies, it's a completely bloodless battle, which is made to seem even more ridiculous when you consider that these are giant wolves that are biting and tearing into flesh, but as I said, somehow these vampires seem to be more stone than flesh.
Edward and Bella's relationship, which has set the hearts of millions of women to beating faster, is the still the weakest part of the story. What either of them sees in the other is never made clear. It's not sexual because they never have it. He's a boring prude and she does nothing but sulk. Where's the romance in that?
When the best you can say about a movie is that it wasn't as bad as its really, really bad predecessor, that's not saying much, but it's the best I can do with regards to this one.
A vampire that enjoys the sunshine?
I agree that Eclipse is the best movie in the series thus far. The few light moments helped, such as when Bella tells her dad she is a virgin. The additional action scenes, such as the fight with Victoria and Riley are also a plus, but there is still far too much yakking. Will you marry me? Will you turn me? Do you love me? Will you kiss me? blah blah blah.
This installments is all about the love triangle. It comes up with many laughable ways to put the three in compromising positions. Jacob carries Bella in his arms to cover her smell, while Edward looks on. Jacob lays down with Bella to keep her warm, with Edward watching. Bella's dad forces her to spend time with Jacob. The cast deserves credit for being able to play their roles straight.
Bella does her usual emotional manipulation. She claims to love both Edward and Jacob. These two boneheads have the patience of a saint. One of them needs to slap Bella and remind her that she cannot ride two bikes at the same time. The fact that they put up with her shit tells me they deserve all the heartache she dishes out.
I liked the back stories on the Cullen clan. I wanted to see Alice's and Emmett's. Alice has those special abilities, and with his size and dark hair, Emmett is the most imposing looking Cullen "vampire."
As Scott wrote, Fanning is the only one who really plays her role as it should be. Her best moment is when she tortures a young newborn vampire, and one of the Cullens tells her she does not have to do that, as she will tell her anything she wants to know, and Jane smiles, "I know." She is the one truly dark character.
I liked how this movie actually built towards something. The other films just seemed to wander. I liked the moment the wolves entered the battle. However, the story is mostly trite. So many conversations in this film seem to be variations of ones from the previous movies. Eclipse is not a great film by any means, but it is definitely an improvement over its predecessors.
Go team Jacob!
I still haven’t watched the first one but I agree with my brothers that Eclipse improves on New Moon. Scott you took the words right out of my mouth about the chemistry between Jacob and Edward being greater than the chemistry Bella shares with either of them. Like you I thought of Brokeback Mountain during the scene in the tent. And speaking of that scene what a fantasy moment it is for Bella. She is lying in one of her boyfriends arms while her other boyfriend looks on jealously. She then pretends to sleep while they have an intimate conversation that revolves completely around her.
Again Edward is such a bore, and as you wrote Scott, he is also a prude. The relationship between him and Bella is - Oh So Intense - but only because they constantly tell us how intense it is. On the other hand her relationship with Jacob seems much more natural and grounded in reality or at least reality by the standards of this series.
Eric, I loved your line about riding two bikes at the same time. Bella is so conflicted in her feelings. The creator of these characters obviously wants Bella to have her cake and eat it too. Traditionally men have more often been in love with two women at the same time than vice versa. In that regard the Twilight movies have a very 21st Century sensibility. But what I said in my review for New Moon holds true for this installment as well. It’s shallow, poorly written, overly dramatic drivel, with nice eye candy thanks to the eternally shirtless Lautner.
Photos © Copyright Summit Entertainment (2010)