The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (Summit Entertainment, PG-13)

 Victoria is still mightily pissed off about James’ death, and there’s lots of fighting in the snowy woods to sink your teeth into.


I don’t expect much from the Twilight movies: I’m about two and a half times too old to be in the target market and the whole 1950s attitude toward sexuality makes my skin crawl. Besides, the series is in the dictionary under “critic-proof,” so I realize that probably no one will make a decision to see this film or not based on anything I or any other critic has to say about it. And that’s fine: you have the right to spend your entertainment dollar however you see fit.
I do feel honor bound to warn you, however, that even judging by very relaxed standards Eclipse is a bad movie, which provides a lot of eye candy but misses the point of the story entirely-an adolescent girl growing into womanhood and faced with the same kinds of choices ordinary girls all over the world must make. Who is she?…how does she fit into the world?…who does she want to spend her life with?…and so on. If that human connection is lost, as it is in Eclipse, there’s nothing left but a lot of CGI and fighting and panoramic shots of meadows, woods and mountains which look like picture postcards come to life.
OK, maybe Bella (Kristin Stewart) has to make some decisions which are a little more involved than the average girl’s. Choosing between an ethereal and chaste vampire (Robert Pattinson as Edward Cullen) and a very corporeal and hot-blooded werewolf (Taylor Lautner as Jacob Black who literally keeps Bella warm when Edward is unable to do so) is an order of magnitude trickier than choosing between the science nerd and the football jock. And let’s face it, most high school kids aren’t thinking about whether or not they should become a vampire after graduation.
Part of the problem with Eclipse is that it’s over-stuffed with characters and story lines such as the proverbial hoarder the series keeps adding new stuff without letting anything go. So by now we have the humans (including Bellas’s parents and her high school pals), the Cullens (vampires who only drink animal blood), the Volturi (vampire royalty), the Quileute tribe (werewolves), plus a new set of juvenile-delinquent vampires who are known as the “Newborns” because they are in their first 28 days of vampirehood and, like immature humans, tend to get out of control. Maybe it’s easier for teenagers to keep this all straight, but I basically gave up and just went with the flow, which isn’t so hard because the film’s visual language clearly identifies the different groupings, and the psychology is so elementary that you’ll have no trouble figuring out who is good and who is bad.
Eclipse has two lines of action: one following Bella’s love life (not only is she torn between two lovers, she wants to go all the way while Edward doesn’t) and the other concerned with a crime spree in Seattle caused by the Newborns, who are led by Riley (Xavier Samuel) and Victoria (Bryce Dallas Howard) from James’ coven. Of course these two story lines must collide—Victoria is still mightily pissed off about James’ death, and there’s lots of fighting in the snowy woods to sink your teeth into.
The dialogue is wooden when it’s not overly florid (“I’m going to fight for you until your heart stops beating…and maybe beyond”), the editing choppy even in the simplest of scenes, and Eclipse lurches between extremes without much rhythm or reason. The shot selection consists primarily of close-ups or extreme long shots while the story is either standing stock still or throwing us into in the midst of some ridiculous fight scene with laughable CGI effects.
For all the bare chests and bloodletting and buffalo-sized wolves, the scene which worked best in Eclipse was a simple exchange between Bella and her Dad (Billy Burke) where they communicated on a human scale: he expressed his anxieties over her growing up and she assured him, with some exasperation, that he had nothing to worry about. More scenes like this, and I might be won over to the killer franchise. | Sarah Boslaugh

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