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Rapid Review- The Twilight Saga: Eclipse

July 9, 2010

An apology to “Twi-hards” in advance:  I’m not going to gush over the film.  I might even give a few painful jabs to the sacred altar that is the phenomenon of Sparkly Vampire Edward.  It’ll only hurt temporarily, I promise.

I’m very lukewarm on the whole Twilight phenomenon, in part because I’m not a huge fan of Stephanie Meyer’s original novels.  For me, both her characters and style lack depth and originality.  As far as the vampire genre is concerned, she’s no Bram Stoker.  Heck, she’s not even Charlaine Harris.  But, we aren’t discussing the source material.  On to the movie itself.

The first two films in the Twilight series focused on young heroine Bella (Kristen Stewart)’s growing love for the sparkling vampire Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson), which was intercut with the jealousy of her furry best friend, werewolf Jacob (Taylor Lautner).  Although there were a few sparse scenes of action-adventure, it was mostly a showcase for brooding teen angst at its most harrowing.

It's so hard to brood and cuddle at the same time...

One of the most glaring issues present in Eclipse, as well as these first three films in general, is its lack of a truly chilling sense of terror or danger.  These are werewolves and vampires we’re dealing with, but the sets are so full of CGI’d beasts and CGI’d soft puddles of fog, that one wonders if anyone is ever really in jeopardy.  I kept expecting the characters to just bounce off the fog and live happily ever after with the woodland creatures.  The werewolves  (and much of the vampire/beastie violence in general) are so obviously computer-generated that they feel about as threatening as the Muppet Babies.

The other issue lies, as always, in the dim acting skills of the three leads.  There are some fine and capable actors in the ensemble cast of all three films.  Unfortunately, none of them are in major roles.  A few need to fire their agents immediately (Bryce Dallas Howard, Anna Kendrick, Michael Sheen, Dakota Fanning – I’m talking to YOU).

Indeed, the only actors in Eclipse who engender any real sense of empathy or humanity, ironically, are two of the supporting “vampires”.  Nikki Reid as Rosalie and Jackson Rathbone as Jasper have the only intriguing stories to be found in the film.  Their vampire “creation” tales are more chilling and interesting than any of the film’s battle scenes.  Unfortunately, once that brief interlude is over, it is back to the saga of Bella “Loves Two Supernatural Men” Swan, and that’s when Eclipse loses its magic.

The plot of Eclipse will no doubt be well-known to 90% of the audience for this film, and I’m not going to re-hash every detail here.  Suffice it to say it boils down to this: Vampires Vs. Werewolves and a side of  Teen Love Triangle!  Supernatural War of the Worlds!  More Things with Exclamation Points!  But I digress…

Once again, Jacob's upper torso threatens Edward's sparkle action.

Several critics out there have commented that Eclipse is the “best of the series so far”.  This is much like saying, “The Wheel: Much Better Than Hauling Rocks By Hand to Your Cave!”  It’s still no Cadillac. 

In short, Eclipse is entertaining enough that it rises above a D or an F grade, if only for its intermittent moments of intrigue when focusing on minor characters and CGI’d mountaintops.  Still – if the best parts of the film occur when your leads are absent – I can’t call that a favorable review.

Part of the trouble with reviewing a film like Eclipse is that I am admittedly not its target audience.  I’m okay with that.  I’m neither a lovestruck, obsessed teen nor a raving adult fan.  If you are either of the aforementioned, Eclipse will probably be an astoundingly entertaining film.  If not, I would suggest curling up in front of HBO and watching a seriously adult episode of True Blood and save youself ten bucks.  Let’s face it – Eric Northman could take on Edward in a heartbeat.

Overall Grade: C-

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