Ok Twihards, don’t hate me for what I’m about to say, but “Eclipse,” the third installment of the “Twilight Saga,” didn’t eclipse the original “Twilight” or “New Moon.” In fact the series almost took a step back from the well-paced, chemistry-filled Chris Weitz-directed “New Moon.” But, then again, I know multiple readers who skimmed certain denser, slower parts of the third book to get to the juicy scenes, myself included. And at times the movie felt the same way, with the audience tolerating the mass amounts of exposition in order to get to The Tent Scene (squeal!) and The Battle Scene (squeal!).
This is not to say that I didn’t like “Eclipse,” but I didn’t feel the overwhelming need to run out during the credits and purchase tickets for another showing. Which, for those of you who haven’t experienced the mind-altering insanity of the “Twilight” phenomenon, is a common reaction.
The film started off promising enough with the violent turning of Riley Biers (Xavier Samuel) by Victoria juxtaposed with Edward (Robert Pattinson) and Bella (Kristen Stewart) idyllically chatting about the cliff-hanger proposal of “New Moon,” but then the film falls into a bit of a plodding pace broken up only by the repeated appearance of a shirtless Jacob (Taylor Lautner). Which is entirely surprising coming from David Slade, a director known for his music videos, the aggressive, edgy “Hard Candy,” and for the very serviceable, dare I say underrated, vampire/horror film “30 Days of Night.”
As in the first two films, Billy Burke is perfect as Chief Swan, Bella’s beleaguered father, and the aforementioned Xavier Samuel is excellent, having the rare ability to act through the vampire contacts. But the chemistry between our three protagonists is hit and miss throughout the film, unlike the bubbling erotic undercurrent of “New Moon.”
The spark may have been partly dulled by the repetitive dialogue. It often felt like Bella and Jacob were tasked with a school assignment to verbalize the same idea in as many different ways as possible. Yes, Jacob, we know you think Bella simply isn’t being honest about her feelings for you. Yes, Bella, we know you don’t want to marry Edward, but you want to be turned, so you’re all for a vampire/vow quid pro quo. Obviously the screenplay isn’t based on Pulitzer Prize winning source material, but screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg, who wrote the first two, would have been well-served by tightening it up a bit.
Or maybe it was the glut of lingering intense, closeups. Or the not-so-subtle musical cues and the at-times bizarre sound mix
Or maybe it was that the whole Bree Tanner storyline. A throwaway character in the book, she was given so much prominence in the film that I felt as if I was watching an infomercial for Stephenie Meyer’s latest work, “The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner.”
And yet our three protagonists do have some really great moments sprinkled thoughout the movie. I fully admit to tearing up when Bella finally asks Jacob to kiss her (Go Team Jacob!) and during the heartfelt moments she shares with her mother. And Pattinson and Lautner have some great repartee in the aforementioned Tent Scene(!). But thanks to the telling of numerous backstories, it took a while to get to these sparklers. (Yea, I said sparklers.)
As with all “Twilight” fans, I’m anxious and curious to see what Oscar winning-director Bill Condon (“Dream Girls” and “Gods and Monsters”) will do with the highly fantastical “Breaking Dawn.” But I’m even more curious now that “Eclipse” has failed to fully quench.
What did you think of “Eclipse”?