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
Reader Feedback - 32 Comments
I don't get the Twilight hate. It's no Godfather but it's not exactly the Hottie & the Nottie either.
Para on Jul 1, 2010
these books are fucking huge, why didnt they get a big name director and shit? the first one looked like it was shot on an HD flip.
Spencer on Jul 1, 2010
Its just not respectable material. Wooden acting, uninspired visuals, pale tone, no character development beyond "I WANT HIM....NO WAIT HIM." But i wouldn't nag about my hate if it wasn't to compete with worshipers of this material talking it up, all the god damned time. They don't like the movies, they like the actors. We know this because they don't talk about the dialog, the scenes, the feeling, they talk about...well....the actors. See if it wasn't for the annoying fan base, the movie wouldn't be of a concern to me. It would just be a terrible film series, soon forgotten after viewing. But, alas, thats the thing. It is a danger to me and my viewing pleasures. Studios realize that such character driven and inspired works are unnecessary when you can sell crap on celluloid and break records. Films like this and their fans give greedy studios reason to not think outside the box, it is people like you who are responsible for one of the worst movie years in recent memory, possibly of all time. Any reasonable response to carry out this conversation is welcome, as long as its not "ZOMG UR JUST JEALOUS." and actually has some merit of explanation for your point of view.
Al on Jul 1, 2010
With these movies i just hope Hollywood doesn't go the way of the Japanese cinema, Using the latest hot Idol to sell tickets.
Jar on Jul 1, 2010
Oh man I just watched the first two films, gawd I have to get that brainwashing out of my head, gawwwww!!!
Dan on Jul 1, 2010
Thanks for an insightfully written article. I have been trying to explain why Eclipse fell flat for for me, while New Moon (for all its flaws) was still a much better movie adaptation of the material. At least it had the right "feel," and packed some emotional punch. In Eclipse I never felt that Bella was actually in peril, or that for one second she might choose Jacob. Characters like Bree, who served a purpose in the book, served absolutely none in the movie. Even the Volturi did not seem threatening. I wanted to love this movie, but didn't. I still love New Moon. "Come take a walk with me" still haunts me. Nothing from Eclipse resonated that way.
laura on Jul 1, 2010
First off, I'm fairly certain that Slade wasn't the one doing the camera work. That's what DP's, cinematographers, and camera crews are for. Second, they go over the "will you marry me" scene again because that's how it was written in the book and it's a major point because it focuses on Edward's past and helps to tell the story of the character. A movie can't be made based on an entire franchise of books while leaving out bits and pieces of who the characters are and what they're about. Any good screenwriter or director knows this.
Melissa on Jul 1, 2010
Go read the books. They are far better then the movies. All books are better then movies. For example: psi love. Hollywood destroyed the book. Book setting all Ireland, there is no William, besides Gerard butler being the hottest part of the movie it just sucked. The time traveler’s wife as well suck in movie form. The only book series I like better in movie form is actually harry potter. The books are boring as hell. I only read two of them back when I as was 12 years old. Its been 10 years since that. i haven't read the sookie stackhouse books but i have watched two epis of true blood. that show is so boring, the acting is horrible imo. with the twilight saga i like both though. the movies and books. it took me about one week to read them. i read them all after seeing the first movie. the first one only had a 38 million dollar budget and they didn't know if it was going to be huge. plsu catherine hardwick is not a very good director. you may all have your opinions but don't judge a movie by its review. or actors. the worst actors sometimes are the oscar winners imo.
pam on Jul 1, 2010
Every time i see these guys in the pic, I just wanna offer them a tums or something
Jimmy Love on Jul 1, 2010
can we have a twilight blade crossover 🙁
Logan on Jul 2, 2010
I really like the first one. Didn't like the second one though.
anonymous on Jul 2, 2010
I am so happy you were so open-minded as a reviewer to this film Jeremy. I mean,this whole twilight thing,not so into it.
twispious on Jul 2, 2010
This is, I have to say, the poorest piece of written english I have encountered for a long while. The writer belittles a multi billion dollar franchise with sentence construction that would barely pass a GCSE. Yes, Twilight is aimed at teenage girls! So what? They made $20 million dollars last weekend so people must enjoy it. Why do you review the film as if it had presented itself alongside Bourne or Bond? Would you review High School Musical in the same way? 1. Decide what the point of your writing is. 2. Go back to school and learn to write.
Jenny on Jul 2, 2010
According to Stephen King, "Both Rowling and Meyer, they're speaking directly to young people... The real difference is that Jo Rowling is a terrific writer and Stephenie Meyer can't write worth a darn. She's not very good." "People are attracted by the stories, by the pace and in the case of Stephenie Meyer, it's very clear that she's writing to a whole generation of girls and opening up kind of a safe joining of love and sex in those books. It's exciting and it's thrilling and it's not particularly threatening because it's not overtly sexual." He further explains, "A lot of the physical side of it is conveyed in things like the vampire will touch her forearm or run a hand over skin, and she just flushes all hot and cold. And for girls, that's a shorthand for all the feelings that they're not ready to deal with yet."
PinkSushit on Jul 2, 2010
For the love of god, please stop calling these whiny sparkly emo fairies vampires and those giant magic dogs werewolves. They've taken two of the greatest monsters of all time and turned them into wussy little bitches.
BobDeathKlown on Jul 2, 2010
Went to see it with the wife and it is by far the best (of the Twilight Saga). We have 5 kids (three of them our girls and the oldest being 13) My wife and I read the books before we would let her or our 11 year old read them and the first two were like blah, blah, blah but the third (Eclipse) was a good book and breaking dawn was very good. Eclipse stuck true to the book and I feel the acting was the best so far. I feel they have grown and matured and it shows in this movie. I dont love it but I am not a hater. I would expect the last installment will be its best and hope they get out of the PG-13 but i'm sure they wont.
Suckthis on Jul 2, 2010
Love the first one, thought that the second one was rather good but thought the third one stunk! That is what I think of the Twilight movie series in a nutshell. Lacked the ability to create emotional stirring in me like the first two did. The third book is definitely my favourite but the the first movie still is the winner - and I believe now it will be the best out of all of them even after the last two films are released. Emmett, Jasper, Edward and Jacob looked hot though!!! Didn't like the wig on Kristen - wrong hair colour and all wrong. In the movie she has very dark hair and Jasper is meant to be blonde! Hello??? Didn't they read the book before filming???
Sarah on Jul 2, 2010
I concur with Jeremy, Laura & Jimmy Love (ha!) Well said!
Tracy on Jul 2, 2010
The Twilight series isn't without its detractors, but a lot of mainstream critics have jumped on a celebratory bandwagon out of fear: http://bit.ly/97rjOg
Brett Gerry on Jul 2, 2010
Jenny, he was comparing the camera work to Bourne. Not the film. If you can't understand that, perhaps you should go back to school (being a defender of Twilight, I'm sure you still are.) As for being targeted at young girls, thats fine as long as the execution isn't this atrociously lazy. They're treating you like idiots and you eat it up. Your only other defense was that it makes a lot of money. I wasn't aware thats how quality is judged. -.-
Al on Jul 2, 2010
I agree with most of this review, in-fact these are the exact same points i made coming out of the theater, but as a fan of the books i didn't think the movie sucked, I think David Slade did the best with what was given, his best work was in the back stories i think, i still hope that more work is done to it for the DVD, I feel that Summit in trying to do this like a machine that is not ruined what was there, David obviously needed more time than 7 months he had of post production, especially with the amount of weight put on the movie... as a huge fan of the books i liked the movie and appreciated what was done, Eclipse is a huge book and so much had to go, if you never read the books you are probably lost as to what is happening... but my biggest problem has always been with the costume department, the Cullens are supposed to always wear white or beige clothing setting them apart from other vamps who are usually in darker colors, in the fight you couldnt tell who was who =(
lucy on Jul 2, 2010
Al my love if you had read my comment you would have noticed my criticism was of written English. I am an English examiner for GCSE English. If you would like to read the marking criteria we use, or you would like to arrange a tutor, please leave me a message.
Jenny on Jul 2, 2010
hey people its may be just a movie but i dream that someday i will me robert pattinson or taylor launter k so suck it up man because u suck
brook on Jul 2, 2010
brian ricci on Jul 3, 2010
Team Edward!!! (Edward James Olmos, that is) So say we all!
Luis M on Jul 5, 2010
So Say We All!
Logan on Jul 5, 2010
Oh Al-you rock. Jenny, get a grip (please, I am asking nicely). If you are truly that offended by the grammar, etc. then send a book to the website with your GCSE criteria. I agree with most of what you wrote Lucy. This critique is pretty on the mark-and yea, I did see all 3. Didn't read the books-I admit it. And I do believe this is one of the most open-minded reviews out there by a male.
anonymous on Jul 5, 2010
I dont want to diss..but I just dont see vampires and werewolfs as metrosexual teenagers. there is nothing there that scares me even remotely, its all shot like a bad mtv video relying on cgi. Im sorry, Im more than 15 years old!
lando on Jul 6, 2010
they have three twilight end the series already it's the same thing sparkly vampires enough with the twilight fan girls you are more annoying then the Jonas brothers fan girls I'm not jealous i wouldn't give a damn about Edward Cullen
jkgjk on Jul 6, 2010
(in reply to jkgjk) and yet here you are, reading a story about twilight and commenting it.
laura on Jul 6, 2010
That was a really bad choice for Victoria she so SUCKED i dont care who her daddy is she cant act
Rummy on Jul 11, 2010
great luck being consumers
Edison Holgersen on Sep 12, 2010
Sorry, no commenting is allowed at this time.