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Twilight Eclipse review

REVIEWS - MOVIES

Blood-soaked spoilers, as this cinematic smart-bomb aims straight for the adolescent female jugular...

Twilight Eclipse

Today was my wife Shannon’s birthday, and we went to see two movies today. First, our kids decided we had to see Despicable Me. Then, because it was her birthday, I agreed to accompany her to see The Twilight Saga: Eclipse. Guess which one I enjoyed (If you need a hint, go read this). Shannon had already seen it at the midnight premiere, but really wanted to see it again, and me being the pushover I am, I went with. I just hope nobody I know saw me there.

This is easily the strongest of the three films, thus far, which isn’t saying much. One thing that was right with this movie was the choice of director, David Slade. Slade was the man responsible for bringing 30 Days of Night to theatres, and his influence is felt here. There’s a darker feel to this movie, which was nice. The plot essentially is about an army of newborn vampires who are being manipulated into a war with the Cullen clan by Victoria, who is still brooding over the loss of her mate. She wants revenge in the form of killing Bella, which will in essence cause Edward the same torment she feels.


"The look and actions of this new army have shades of the vampires from 30DON, but are just safe enough for the tween crowd"


And the saddest part of it is, there isn’t nearly enough time given to the newborns, which are about the best part of the whole film. They are real terrors, all bloodthirsty and causing havoc in Seattle, which gets not only the Cullen’s attention, but the attention of CNN, and the dreaded Volturi. The look and actions of this new army have shades of the vampires from 30DON, but are just safe enough for the tween crowd.

And of course, we have the love triangle of Bella, Eddie, and Jacob. Jake isn’t talking to Bella, and Edward is quite happy about that. Charlie, Bella’s father, is trying to get her to take at least a little time away from the boyfriend, because their relationship is bordering on unhealthy (oh, pop, if you only knew). We have the unanswered proposal of marriage from the end of the last film, Bella insisting that she become one of the glittery undead, Ed’s unease at that prospect, and her trying to get more from Edward physically than he’s ready to give.


"There are moments which are decent, and could have real promise if the dialogue wasn’t laughable"


On top of that, graduation is coming up, and Bella is trying to figure out what she’s going to tell family and friends about why she isn’t coming ‘round for the holidays once she’s bitten. But soon after graduation, Alice has a vision of the army coming to Forks. And with this, the wolves and the vamps decide that they will fight together to put an end to them, all in the name of protecting Bella. Jacob gives his best “big boy” intense stare, and says “As long as we get to kill some vampires”.

There are moments which are decent, and could have real promise if the dialogue wasn’t laughable. At one point, before the final battle, Bella, Edward and Jacob are out in the middle of nowhere in a tent, during a snowstorm. Bella’s freezing, and Ed can’t help. Jacob decides to cuddle with her, which pisses Edward off. Jacob’s response is “I’m hotter than you”. Great dialogue if you’re a 14-year-old girl, but I think I may have thrown up in my mouth a little. There’s also a moment when Jasper – once a Major in the Confederate Army, but looks like he just came off a shift as a barista at Starbucks – is training the Cullen clan and the wolves to fight newborns. He takes this military stance which had me in a laughing fit, and got me elbowed by my wife.

But you do get moments that are almost touching. While Bella is asleep in the tent, Jacob and Edward talk, and come to the conclusion that they might have been friends in another setting. There’s also an exchange between Bella and Rosalie where Rose gives an all too brief history of how she came to be, and tells Bella that she envies her and the mortal life she has. There’s also a scene where Jasper tells Bella of his past, and of the vampires wars he fought in his early years. Moments like these, though, are overshadowed and cut short, leaving more room for shots of Jake’s abs and Edward’s pained, brooding looks.


"The real villain of the story, though, isn’t Victoria or the Volturi, it’s Stephanie Meyer’s writing"


The real villain of the story, though, isn’t Victoria or the Volturi, it’s Stephanie Meyer’s writing. The story sounds like it was written by a girl in junior high, pining for the “love of her life”. While I believe in romance, the characters here are a little too involved in the here and now, acting as though these are the only people they’re ever going to meet and fall in love with. Her writing is also heavily influenced by her religious beliefs, especially where sex is concerned. The idea of the chaste hero and heroine is noble, but she overdoes it. There’s a scene where Charlie and Bella are having a discussion on marriage and its relevance, which get Chuck to wonder about Bella’s own sexual habits. She’s quick to inform her dad that Edward’s an “old fashioned” kind of guy, and announces that she is, in fact, still a virgin.

Then we have a scene where Bella is trying to seduce Edward, and he goes into a long spiel about how he’s from another era, and that he won’t until they’re married All of this is admirable, but then comes the kicker. Edward explains that while he doesn’t have a soul to worry about, he will protect hers. See, back in the old days, fooling around just got you killed by the slasher killer of the week. Now, Meyer is quite content to preach to the audience, saying “If you screw around, you’ll burn in Hell”. Sorry, but I prefer that my movies don’t come with a heavy-handed parable, unless it’s spoken in backward English by Yoda.

The movie ends with a battle royal between the army and the vamps and wolves, and a side battle between Edward and Victoria and a young newborn she has been duping into helping her create her army, merely so that she can have her revenge. The battle is well filmed, but somewhere along the way, they decided that when vampires are killed in this universe, they shatter like porcelain. I don’t know if it was done to keep the gore factor down for younger viewers, but it really kinda sucks (heh – pun). At the end of it all, Jane – played here quite ably by Dakota Fanning – and her Volturi lackeys check to see the progress, and to see if Bella has been turned yet as promised. Jacob is left injured, and is taken back to his place, where Carlisle comes and treats him. As he leaves, Jake’s father shakes his hand, thanking him, and you’re left with another of those few and far between touching moments.

Bella talks to Jacob, but the real damage has been done. Our final scene is of Edward sliding the ring on Bella’s finger, and the two planning to tell Charlie (to which she says “Good thing you’re bullet proof” – I ask you, who comes up with this?). Is everything hunky-dory? Will the happy couple find peace somewhere in this world? Do I really care? No, not really. But bad dialogue aside, I was able to hand this film 2 out of 4 stars, mostly because of a wonderful visual aspect to the flick, and a descent soundtrack. While most of the cast seem to be there merely to look pretty, there are some actors out of the bunch. Billy Burke is great as Charlie, Ms. Fanning is showing more than a little promise with her performance, and new addition Bryce Dallas Howard gives Victoria some depth, even with as little as she been handed to work with.

Now, I think I’ll take a good friend’s advice and have a Dark Shadows marathon this weekend to wash all of this off.

2 stars


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Comments 

 
#1 Rhianne 2010-07-14 22:12
A great review!
Although I thoroughly enjoyed the film, it's nice to see a fair and balanced argument.
I agree with your point about lines being cheesy, almost cringe-worthy, but I do think that adds to the sweetness of the film.
I think Kristen's performance as Bella, as usual, was AWFUL, but I don't actually think that mattered too much.
All in all I liked the film's sweet light-heartedness, and enjoyed the fantasy that it allowed you to drift away to for a few hours!
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#2 Caleb Leland 2010-07-18 03:27
Thank you. Personally, if I want fantasy, I'll watch the director's cut of The Lord of the Rings trilogy. But I have accepted that these films and books aren't made for me or my crowd.
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