“Let’s face it, I am hotter than you”
And so begins the movie review of the third installment of the Twilight series. It is no secret that the critic-proof franchise has been wildly successful in spite of widespread disdain from critics and non-Twi-hards alike. Indeed, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse will fail to convert any outsider into a new fan of the series. Even though it is a noticeable improvement over Twilight and New Moon, this is still one of the worst movie of the year.
Picking up where it left off, the plot now revolves around an army of evil vampires, led by Victoria (Bryce Dallas Howard), rampaging through the Pacific northwest and bent on killing Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart). To protect his mopey human girlfriend, emo-vampire Edward (Robert Pattinson) makes a pact with wolf-boy Jacob (Taylor Lautner) to vanquish the evil vampires. Needless to say, the movie is now in full love triangle mode with Bella constantly thinking about getting it on with that prude Edward while endlessly teasing that loser Jacob.
How could one forget Kristen Stewart’s seizure-like attempts to portray being in love by twitching, flopping, and making hysterical sounds while crying on her bed in New Moon? What about her constant facial mannerisms that seemed to point to the fact that she was going to soil her pants any second? Well good news folks! It never gets quite that low in Eclipse. The most notable improvement of the movie has to be the acting from the leads which went from irreparably horrendous to laughably mediocre. Indeed, the main characters feel a bit less annoying and we even get to see Stewart smile like once or twice. The script by Melissa Rosenberg seems to be more self-aware with a hint of self-deprecating humor here and there. Edward even asks “Doesn’t he own a shirt?” after seeing Jacob shirtless for the umpteenth time.
Director David Slade, who previously directed the awesome Hard Candy, proves to be more competent than his predecessors. Sadly, no one gets castrated here but Slade finally infuses the movie with some narrative tension and purpose that were completely lacking in the first two installments. The climax of the movie involves a war between evil vampires and the Cullen/werewolves and is fairly entertaining although it’s definitely lame that there is never any blood involved.
Having said that, Eclipse is still a very mediocre movie as a whole, taking itself far too seriously for its own good. The movie makes no effort whatsoever to summarize the story line of the previous two movies so if this is your first Twilight experience, tough luck. Kristen Stewart still mopes and looks bored most of the time and she is often joined by other members of the cast. Her character still remains a soulless and bland vessel while the rest of the characters exist only to revolve around her. There is still no logical reason whatsoever as to why everyone would risk their life to save her. And talking of mortal danger, not one of the good guys even dies after all the build-up about how dangerous the threat of the vampire army is.
Edward, Bella and Jacob’s love triangle is the weakest part of the story, with laugh-inducing dialogue, lifeless behaviors, and ridiculous situations that never feel authentic. In one scene, Bella is shivering from the cold in the middle of the night and Edward is unable to warm her up since he is… you know… a cold vampire. Well, guess who suddenly shows up to warm her up? A shirtless Jacob, ready to cuddle up with her under the watchful eye of the brooding Edward. This sounds strangely akin to a setup for a porn movie if you ask me. Because the movie has nowhere else to go, we keep getting hammered with silly situations like these even though we perfectly know Bella will end up with Edward.
The Twilight franchise is moving in the right direction, ever so infinitesimally. If it continues that progression, it might actually become a good movie by the 28th installment.
Lesson of the day:
Jacob Black: [pause] I kissed Bella.
Jacob Black: And she broke her hand.
Jacob Black: Punching my face.
Jacob Black: It was a complete misunderstanding.
Notes: Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of action and violence, and some sensuality, 124 minutes.