Because of Summit’s propensity to enjoy printing money, I now get to review a new Twilight movie bi-annually, instead of once every two years like most normal franchises. After Eclipse, there is now only one book left, but in a flash of genius to double their profits, they’ve split the final installment in half. And once that’s over? I suspect they’ll start throwing more money at Stephanie Meyer so that she spends a weekend writing another one or two of these that they can teleport into theaters a few months later.
It’s not hard to imagine why this series is so popular among women of all ages, as perplexed as many people seem to be by Twilight’s success. The male equivalent of the phenomenon would be if someone wrote a movie where Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johansson both fight over who gets to bang you, they both have secret superpowers, and Scarjo is topless the whole time. I’d see that movie, but I hope I would at least stop and realize how ridiculous it was.
Thankfully Eclipse has toned down the absurdity in this latest outing, and I can actually describe the film as “watchable,” which I consider high praise, seeing as my monitor almost caught fire with how badly I burned New Moon when it came out.
The plot is pretty straightforward this time around, and spends more time on vampire decapitation than the inane central love story prominently featured in the last two films. While in New Moon, Bella was jumping off cliffs (literally) because Edward broke up with her, this time she keeps her wits about her for the most part, and her stupidity level is at a shocking all-time low.
Villain Victoria is still mad about her husband James dying two movies ago due to his inability to resist Bella’s sweet virgin blood, and her new plan to kill her and the Cullen clan protecting her is to create an army of vampires over the course of a year to overrun Forks and massacre everyone.
Alice the clairvoyant vampire sees all of this, and for some reason we’re supposed to not know it’s Victoria creating this army until 2/3rds of the way through the movie, but I’m pretty sure it was in the damn trailer, so I don’t feel bad talking about it here. Who else was it going to be?
Vampire armies must always color coordinate.
The Cullens are worried that they can’t take on a baby vampire army by themselves, so they enlist the help of Jacob “Six Pack” Black and his wolf bros, who apparently have a vested interest in risking all their lives to save Bella simply because Jacob has an unfulfilled crush on her.
The most emotionally resonant part of these movies is the saga of poor Jacob. Meant to be the third point of the Edward-Bella love triangle, it’s abundantly clear the poor guy never has a shot. He’s like a little puppy that keeps getting kicked in the head over and over, but every four or fifth kick comes with a few seconds of ear-scratching, and that’s enough for him to keep loving his owner unconditionally and coming back for more.
The movie tries to pretend like Bella is still actually conflicted about her feelings, including one bizarre scene where she thrusts her tongue down Jacob’s throat after she’s already engaged to Edward, who is also standing a few feet away. But it’s never really a question who she’s going to end up with to anyone with half a brain, and poor Jacob is all alone, with only his abs to keep him company.
“Yeah, maybe just one more romantic campfire will do it.”
The film makes a few good jokes based on the rivalry between Jacob and Edward, and Edward’s “Does he even own a shirt?” query is actually a laugh out loud moment. But then the movie takes it too far, with a bizarre ménage-a-trois in a tent where a (naturally) shirtless Jacob must keep Bella from freezing with his wolf body heat, while undead Edward looks on and seems like he’s about to cry.
The final confrontation between vegan vampires, baby vampires and werewolves is probably the series’ most action packed exchange to date, and we learn that you can get away with dismemberment in a PG-13 movie, as long as they’re vampires who inexplicably shoot ice out of their veins when they lose an extremity. But the problem is there’s no real danger, none of the clan ever suffers more than a scratch, and the only main character who ever gets seriously injured is reported to be out of the woods within minutes.
The film also is peppered with a few welcome, character developing flashbacks telling how the wolf and the vampire rivalry began, and how two of the Cullen clan got their start as bloodsuckers. One involves gang rape. Uhhh, moving on.
Which one was it?
The worst part of this series is still the dynamic between Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart. They are officially the most awkward movie couple I’ve ever seen, and nearly every exchange between them is cringe-worthy. This peaks in one scene where Bella wants Edward to bang her while she’s still human, and Edward says no, because not only might vampire sex kill her, but also because “he has traditional values because he comes from a simpler time when he would court her,” and so he says he doesn’t want to have sex until marriage. The moral preaching here is deafening, and it will clue even the clueless into the fact that author Stephanie Meyer is a Mormon and most of this series was written as an anti-sex allegory.
Director David Slade (30 Days of Night) has actually made a decent film here, given what he had to work with. This is the best shot installment in the Twilight series yet, but I maintain that only so much can be done with the script given the source material which is full of so much nonsense, you can only filter so much of it out. Many of the issues here stem from the books themselves, and I think Slade has done a pretty good job of crafting a movie with such fluff to draw from.
This isn’t a movie for anyone else other than fans of the series, but fortunately for the studio, those fans number in the millions. Eclipse is the most tolerable film in the series thus far, and one can only hope that trend continues to the final two chapters.
2.5 out of 5 stars
“Alright you can have her, but I get to fall in love with your guys’ baby OK?”