Review: Twilight: Eclipse Might Be the Best, But It's Still Bad
by Jeremy Kirk
July 1, 2010
The Twilight franchise is entirely made up of bad movies. There it is in a nutshell for you. Whether it's the cardboard style about everything in the first film, the hodgepodge of hokey angst in the second film, or the meandering yet cheap styles of this third film, none of the films have done anything in the way of cinematic achievement. Take the mindless drones who hate on everything and everyone in front or behind Twilight and ship them to Mars. I don't care. What I am concerned with are these films, and none of them are good.
Okay, rambling disclaimer put out there. Time to talk Eclipse, the third one, the one many are claiming is the best of the franchise. It very well could be. Personally, I admired the directing style Chris Weitz brought to New Moon's table, and the "bigger picture" turns the story took were a welcome addition after being confined to the North-Western woods of the US.
We're back in those woods for Eclipse, and Bella, played by Kristen Stewart, continues to contemplate where she stands with vampire Edward, played by Robert Pattinson. Werewolf Jacob, played by Taylor Lautner and his abs, continues to pine for Bella. This time around he seems more like a whimpering puppy dog who is simply trying to beat Bella down rather than someone who is chasing after her true emotions. While this tattered love triangle builds, so too does an army of vampires whose motives are seemingly to cause as much havoc as possible at first. Once their true objectives are revealed, though, the vampires and werewolves of Forks must band together to fight off this common enemy. Cue the practicing for battle montage.
Directed by David Slade, who has experience with hard-edged thrillers with Hard Candy and 30 Days of Night under his belt, Eclipse is a film without focus, without one, true style that its director grasps on and holds to. We get Greengrass-style shaky cam, and not even in the most intense scenes. When two people are standing and talking, Slade feels the need to be as close to them as possible and can't seem to hold the camera steady and that is quite distracting. But other scenes show complete control and come off as stylish and smooth. Of course, it is when this style rears its head that we can tell just how shoddy and wholesale the sets are, as if they're on loan from a high school production.
The actions, so few and so far between each of them, are difficult to interpret. That shaky cam mixed with everyone wearing a gray-to-black hoody seems to do wonders for telling the good vampires from the bad. At least we know all of the wolves are on the same side. Those wolves, by the way, are still the coolest part of the Twilight franchise, and their enormous size almost makes up for how poorly executed the CG is that creates them.
Much like New Moon, Eclipse is powdered with sporadic positives. Slade and screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg allow it be somewhat self referential, with Edward once questioning whether or not Jacob even owns a shirt. There are flashbacks that give history of other members of the Cullen family, and these scenes are finely crafted. In fact, either of them would make a more interesting story than what we have here. In all honesty, within the main love triangle, the two that seem to have the most chemistry are Pattinson and Lautner, and that isn't meant in a homo-erotic way. Their scenes together are simply the most genuine, and the dialogue between them about Bella's feelings for each of them is the best the entire series has to offer.
One scene in particular takes place in a tent up in the snowy mountains. Bella, freezing as any human would be, can only be helped by the warmth of Jacob's body. Edward, without the offering of physical warmth, is forced to watch, and, as Bella sleeps, the two talk about her. It is an excellently written and directed scene, almost great, and it gets to the very heart of what drives the entire story. It's also the only time in the entire series any of these three step up their acting game above the standard drivel.
Outside of that scene, though, the acting is just as wooden and choppy as it's ever been with Stewart leading the pack. She seems so pained, and not in a sympathetic, teen angst sort of way. No one in the film seems to be able to deliver any length of dialogue without stumbling over the words or coming off as wholly uncomfortable. Incendiary performances are suitable, namely Billy Burke as Bella's father and Bryce Dallas Howard taking over the Victoria role from Rachelle Lefevre.
Sadly, though, the fleeting pros Eclipse has to offer cannot make up for the overbearing cons that don't seem to end. Much of the film serves only as build-up to a battle scene that is both confusing and pointless. The love story moves at a snail's pace, and it almost seems as if we go over the same "will you marry me" scene we saw at the end of New Moon. Nothing progresses or, at least, not to the point of being necessary. Eclipse finds itself in the precarious position of acting only as a bridge between one movie and another, and, when that happens, you begin to question whether its existence is even worthwhile.
The popularity of the Twilight series continues to elude some people, people who act like monkeys trying to beat on an electrical device whose inner working they cannot grasp. There is that backlash against Twilight as a whole, and, honestly, it says a whole lot more about the people backlashing than it does about those they are attacking. There is the other backlash against these films and their true worth. None of them are good, and while the last two, New Moon and now Eclipse, are not the offensive awful the haters of the world make them out to be, they also aren't beyond reproach. Eclipse may be the best of the series. It may not be. Either way, it is simply not a good movie, and, within the world of Twilight, that is all the concerns me.
Jeremy's Rating: 4 out of 10