Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of action and violence, and some sensuality, 124 minutes
"Eclipse" - Team Edward? Team Jacob? How about Team Bland
If the "Twilight" saga - both Stephenie Meyer's books and movies - are all about pleasing its fans - then the mildly enjoyabe third film in the series, "Eclipse," should do very well. Some might even classify it as the best "Twilight" film, which still isn't saying much. To sum it up quickly, it's more faithful to the novel, it has more action and slightly (make that VERY slightly) less cheesy teen angst than the previous two, but a couple of intense battle scenes (and those come near the end of the film) can't make up for the otherwise dull, tedious story and second-rate acting that has plagued these films from the start.
In this installment of the "Twilight" saga, Bella (Kristen Stewart) and Edward (Robert Pattinson) have been reunited, but their forbidden relationship is threatened to be torn apart again with an evil vampire chick named Victoria (Bryce Dallas Howard, replacing Rachelle Levefre) putting together an army of vampires to seek her revenge on the Cullen family. Bella is forced to choose between her true love for Edward or her growing friendship with Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner), which is made more complex by the fact that the vampires and werewolves are temporarily working together to help bring down Victoria's powerful vampire army. Who will Bella choose and will anyone be left standing after the battle with Victoria's vampire army?
I will say that as a non-"Twilight" fan I was more entertained than in the previous installments, particularly with the energy and ardor of the battle sequences, which are the clear highlight of the film, but that would make it a better film in the same way the chase sequences made "Smokey and the Bandit" a great film. Burt Reynolds jokes aside, "Eclipse" is probably the more memorable of the three films, with a certain intensity (and a lot more blood-letting) missing from the first two, but there's still too much tedious pining of the teenage soul throughout the rest of it. Yes, it is a love story, but please, please make it more exciting to watch and give me characters I truly care about.
Kristen Stewart is indeed a decent actress who makes Bella her own, but it's near laughable to see Edward refusing to sleep with Bella only to have him propose on one knee. Sure, I'm all for sexual purity but in this one case it would've been perfectly acceptable since Edward is hardly human and Bella could be turned into a vampire, which is what she always wanted, right? Wrong. She must choose between the two most boring guys ever, which is a joke in and of itself: Pattinson, a vacuous actor if there ever was one, and the muscular Lautner, obvious eye candy but still the worst actor of his generation (it's just painful hearing him recite his lines).
British music video director David Slade helms this outing serviceably, in particular the action scenes, and one thing for sure is getting better with each "Twilight" installment: the special effects. The werewolves are leaner, meaner and more detailed and there's less of the cheapish running up trees by vampires and more jumping and breaking of necks, as much as a PG-13 rating will allow.
My "Twilight" friends and fans who have read the books tell me that things get darker and more interesting with each novel. I've yet to see an interesting story told in the film versions, which makes me eager to see if director Bill Condon ("Dreamgirls") can work his magic with the last two films and actually turn out a movie that's entertaining, engaging and far less dull than the movies have been so far. We'll see.
But what matters most is that true fans of "Twilight," (and most of them female) should be pleased with "Eclipse." Team Edward? Team Jacob? Team do I care? I'll let the fans decide.