A film review by Craig J. Koban December 8, 2010
THE TWILIGHT SAGA: ECLIPSE
2010, PG-13, 124 mins.
2010, PG-13, 124 mins.
Bella Swan: Kristen Stewart / Edward Cullen: Robert Pattinson / Jacob
Black: Taylor Lautner / Victoria Bryce: Dallas Howard / Charlie
Swan: Billy Burke / Jane: Dakota Fanning / Dr. Cullen: Peter
Facinelli / Jasper Hale: Jackson Rathbone / Esme Cullen: Elizabeth
If the first TWILIGHT film and its sequel - the self-importantly named THE TWILIGHT SAGA: NEW MOON - made me care very little about the central romance between a centuries-old vampire and his teenage girlfriend, then the third film in the planned four part series, ECLIPSE, made me care even less.
films, based on the exceedingly popular book series by Stephenie Meyer,
are critic proof in the sense that most film critics are not early
adolescent girls that ravenously gush over every minute detail of the soap
opera/Harlequin romance trials and tribulations of Bella, Edward, and
Jacob. The central arc of the
last two films is the “ultimate choice” of Bella as to whether
she’ll choose an icy cold member of the undead or a hairy and
ferocious lycanthrope. Call
me crazy, but this lass needs to seek immediate psychiatric care before
making any commitments.
series thus far, I guess, facilitates every young girl’s most primal,
pornographic fantasies about having to select between two unattainably
attractive young boys that want her in every way possible, which makes the
choice that much more titillating. I
have always conceded that TWILIGHT, NEW MOON, and ECLIPSE are not so much
steeped in forbidden love as they are about the sinful pleasures of teen
lust. Seriously, what
other possible motive would young Bella have for wanting to spend all her
available time with a monster like Edward?
Remember, he is a 100-plus-year-old Nosfuratu that has completed
the 12-grade over 80 times (talk about hell on earth) and must feed on
blood to survive. He cannot
die, which precludes that if you want to spend eternity with him then
you’ll have to also be turned and become an everlasting blood drinker.
Poor Bella will have to lose her virginity in more than one way
with this hideously unstable creature.
ECLIPSE and its immediate predecessor go to mind-numbing lengths to be
parables about teen chastity. Bella
(Kristen Stewart, who looks, more than ever, bored and uninvolved with her
role) wants to nail Edward (Robert Pattinson, miraculously becoming more
mannered and wooden with each new episode), but he does not want to sleep with her
nor does he want to “turn” her, mostly because he’s a
traditionalist. He won’t do
the no-pants-dance or facilitate her transition into becoming a vampire
until after marriage, but that pesky and conflicted Bella does not seem
ready for marriage at 18. Hmmm…she’s
not ready for exchanging life-long vows, but she is ready to become a creature of the night.
of course, we have the Quileute Indian childhood friend - and werewolf - of Bella, Jacob
(Taylor Lautner, a likeable performer, but one that is getting by far,
far too much on his pecs and abs than on his thespian skills) that wants
Bella, especially if it will mean stealing her away from Edward, seeing as
vampires are the sworn enemies of the werewolves.
Jacob’s steadfast desire to woe Bella makes Edward’s fangs
really protrude, and through most of the film we get the obligatory
standoffs between the boys followed by lots of posturing followed by lots of mutually
pining and swooning over Bella…and so on.
Bella, through the course of this highly odd romantic love
triangle, can’t seem to let go of one of the eligible suitors and, more
or less, does a considerable amount of leading on, which ultimately makes
her the least sympathetic and likeable persona of this series.
She is not so much an innocent victim here as she is, for lack of a
better and more appropriate phrase, a cock tease.
surrounding the perpetual struggles of Bella choosing between being a
member of “Team
Edward” or “Team Jacob”, are other larger concerns. The evil
and malicious vampire Victoria (initially played by Rachel
Lefevre and now replaced by Bryce Dallas Howard, hamming it up to eye rolling
levels of mockery) is back with a nasty plan for revenge against both
Bella and the Cullens, Edwards’s pseudo family.
She has taken it upon herself to create a group of newborn vamps,
which are apparently really unstable and violent during their initial
period after being turned. Her
new gullible protégée/ lover, Riley (Xavier Samuel, bland, one
dimensional, and indistinctive) decide to unleash the full force of the
new undead army on the Cullens, and Edward and his family see this coming
and decide to prepare for the worst.
to save themselves, the Cullens decide to team up with their enemies, the
werewolves, and declare an uneasy truce between them so they can fend off
Victoria once and for all. Meanwhile,
the Volturi are lurking in the background watching these events led by a
red-eyed vampire played by Stewart’s RUNAWAYS co-star Dakota Fanning in a role so seemingly
inconsequential and vaguely developed that you kind of wonder why scenes
involving her were just not excised from the film altogether; what a
tremendous waste of her talent.
(sorry, I refuse to preface it with the terms THE TWILIGHT SAGA anymore)
is arguably the most laugh inducing of the series to those not insatiably
devoted to its literary source material.
Much akin to many of the recent HARRY POTTER films, this newest
entry does little to propel the main characters and their plights in any
new direction. Bella is
still a dislikeable, selfish minded, and manipulative young woman that
toys with the emotional fragility of the young men that want to win her
affections; Edward is still a diamond-skinned shimmering vampire that only
wants what’s best for Bella, but still wants to marry her; and the
everlastingly shirtless and rock-hard sculpted visage of Jacob still
whines to Bella about how he is a better choice for her and how he will
never stop trying to be with her.
The film begins and concludes with these same character dynamics,
which makes everything that transpired in-between during its 124 minutes (a
snooze-inducing and self-indulgent running time) feel redundant.
are some attempts, albeit feeble, at developing subplots involving some
side-characters that, frankly, are not worth our interest (do we really
care that one of Edward’s “brothers” was once a Confederate soldier
before he was turned?). Sandwiched
in-between those scenes are other moments involving some of the most banal
and mechanical dialogue exchanges your likely to hear all year.
Lines like “I know the consequences of the choice your making”
or “I promise to love you every moment forever” or, my personal
favourite (as Bella speaks to Edward during one late moment) “This
wasn’t a choice between you and Jacob.
It was a choice between who I am and who I should be.”
Oy vey. Stewart in particular deserves a special technical Academy Award
for performing with the most moody and sullen of faces while reciting the
most god-awful dialogue without hysterically breaking down on camera.
I did, however, like a one-liner by Edward directed to Jacob:
“Don’t you own a shirt?”
is more action in ECLIPSE, but this is, after all, a PG-13 film, so many
of the wolf-on-vamp carnage is remarkably bloodless and goreless (not to
mention that the CGI werewolves look as hastily executed as the last time
around). The very competent
David Slade, who made one of the Ten
Best Films of 2006 in HARD CANDY,
directed ECLIPSE. He
proficiently makes the film look good and creates some panoramic
shots of visual interest, but for all of the complexity he brought to the
characters of HARD CANDY he seems, in
comparison, completely neutered by the requirements of ECLIPSE’s tailor-made,
teen-audience centric scripting. Ultimately,
it really does not matter who directs these films because the filmmakers
are essentially puppets and are lost in the shadows.
The TWILIGHT franchise is not interested in what the auteur behind
the camera wants to bring; they are more compelled with just having
someone slavishly bring the novel’s elements on to the screen.
is a film that's hard to give a damn about.
I gave passable two star reviews to its two prequels, but I find
myself being far less forgiving now.
It’s really difficult to not side-splittingly laugh at a film like this
that takes itself as seriously as a heart attack.
Consider one late scene where, conveniently, Bella, Edward, and
Jacob are on a mountaintop in a tent surrounded by a massive artic gush of
frigid air. Bella is
freezing, but snuggling to Edward won’t help (he’s cold blooded).
Jacob, being a wolf, is warm, so he cozies up to Bella under her sleeping bag to keep
her alive, much to Edward’s jealous chagrin.
During this highly awkward moment, Edward and Jacob profess how
they could…perhaps…like one another if they were not mortal
Wait a tick: Edward and Jacob both cheat on Bella by pulling a full-on BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN and sleep with each other! Now that would make the TWILIGHT series a “saga” more fiendishly compelling.