The Twilight Saga: Eclipse

Movie Information

The Story: More teen romance angst while our heroine waffles between eternity with a vampire and paper-training a werewolf. The Lowdown: It's not really any better than the first two movies, but it's funnier.
Score:

Genre: Tween Horror
Director: David Slade (30 Days of Night)
Starring: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Bryce Dallas Howard, Billy Burke, Dakota Fanning
Rated: PG-13

Much as I dislike the whole Twilight series, the concept and mindless adulation, I simply don’t have it in me to actually hate a movie in which the heroine tells a werewolf boy, “Stay!” Granted, I’d have liked it better if she had then commanded him to roll over or play dead, but you can’t have everything. This by no means indicates I’m recommending The Twilight Saga: Eclipse—far, far from it. It only means I found this entry less painful than the first two. For a change, this one seems to know it’s cheesy, campy rubbish.

I’m putting a lot of the less awfulness down to director David Slade, whose 30 Days of Night (2007) got fairly high marks in some quarters (not mine). He seems to be about right for the material. Chris Weitz was too good and Catherine Hardwicke was too inept, so Slade comes across like Baby Bear’s porridge here. He’s still at the mercy of perhaps the worst material in the history of vampire fiction, but he seems to know it. In the land of Twilight, self-awareness is a plus. It still makes for a bad movie, but I got more laughs—some of which may have even been intended—out of it than its predecessors.

There’s no more story than before. It’s still mostly about zomboid Bella (Kristen Stewart) trying to get pasty vampire Edward to seal the deal by putting the bite on her, while fighting off her feelings for werewolf-boy Jacob and his large and sinewy muscles. It more and more feels like a really perverse “abstinence only” tract dressed up as a typically uninteresting teen love triangle about a girl essentially making a choice between necrophilia and bestiality. Decisions, decisions. The action is slightly ramped up this round, but it’s nothing special in its bloodless violence and a lot of it makes little sense. What good is all this vampire superhuman strength if the depicted vampires are so fragile that major body parts—like heads, for instance—can be snapped off like breaking a candy cane?

If it matters, the plot—apart from three boring characters looking soulfully at each other and saying vapid things—is all about bad girl vampire Victoria (who has somehow transformed from Rachelle Lafevre into Bryce Dallas Howard this round) creating a vampire army (that always looks like it’s about to break into a number from West Side Story) to get her revenge on Bella and the Cullen clan for offing her bad boy vampire boyfriend in the first movie. That’s it, except for a cameo appearance by representatives from the Volturi of vampire central headquarters (presumably to remind us that Dakota Fanning is in the series).

At least the leisurely pace of the movie allows the non-fanbase audience to wonder about things like why the werewolves are the size of Oldsmobiles and why Edward is smitten with boring Bella. There’s perhaps some excuse on the part of werewolf-boy Jacob, since he’s 17 or 18 and clearly a couple phases shy of a full moon anyway (though he still seems to want to spend most of his time hanging out with his shirtless buddies in the woods). But Edward is 108 or 109 years old. You’d think he might’ve picked up some degree of intellect, maturity or sophistication in all that time (and, no, reminding us that he listens to Debussy doesn’t cut it). Oh well, it was almost worth it just to hear the girls in the audience break into applause when Jacob announced that he’s hotter than Edward. Almost. I’m just waiting for the entry where Edward gives Bella a C-section with his teeth, which I am told will indeed happen. It’s nice to have something to look forward to. Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of action and violence, and some sensuality.

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About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress since December 2000. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

11 thoughts on “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse

  1. Bert

    “It more and more feels like a really perverse “abstinence only” tract dressed up as a typically uninteresting teen love triangle about a girl essentially making a choice between necrophilia and bestiality.”

    Sounds like the last several Republican National Conventions.

  2. Tomislav Pijonsnodt

    It more and more feels like a really perverse “abstinence only” tract dressed up as a typically uninteresting teen love triangle about a girl essentially making a choice between necrophilia and bestiality.

    I dearly hope this is the quote you’re using for the Rotten Tomatoes entry.

    I’m just waiting for the entry where Edward gives Bella a C-section with his teeth, which I am told will indeed happen.

    It’s impossible to summarize the plot of Twilight without sounding like you’re joking, but it does indeed happen.

  3. Ken Hanke

    I dearly hope this is the quote you’re using for the Rotten Tomatoes entry.

    I had to remonkey it slightly to fit their 175 character limit, but yes.

    It’s impossible to summarize the plot of Twilight without sounding like you’re joking, but it does indeed happen.

    Astonishing.

  4. DrSerizawa

    How is it that it gets a 54% fresh rating on RT? Are too many professional reviewers trying to tell people what they think they want to hear? Or are the reviewers being intimidated by reader feedback? Another downside of instant internet reaction from insane and threatening teenage girls? Is there an army of such juveniles out there ready to tear Twilight detractors limb from limb? Can I come up with any more stupid questions? It’s just weird.

  5. Ken Hanke

    How is it that it gets a 54% fresh rating on RT? Are too many professional reviewers trying to tell people what they think they want to hear? Or are the reviewers being intimidated by reader feedback?

    Partly unanswerable stuff, but I’ll offer a few guesses and observations for you. I suspect it’s been partly less trashed because it at least seems to embrace its inner-Velveetaness. If you actually read the reviews you’ll find that’s often the case. In other words, it’s getting points for not being the first two movies and realizing that it’s rubbish. But some of it does reflect critics writing in a “fans of this series will love it” mode. Factor in the quote whores and the debatably credible — not to mention the moralist reviewers who approve of its abstinence-only aspect — and it explains it, I think.

    Another downside of instant internet reaction from insane and threatening teenage girls? Is there an army of such juveniles out there ready to tear Twilight detractors limb from limb?

    Welcome to the internet.

    Can I come up with any more stupid questions?

    Actually, I think you raise interesting and relevant points.

  6. Tomislav Pijonsnodt

    But some of it does reflect critics writing in a “fans of this series will love it” mode.

    That’s an old pet peeve of mine. How meaningful is it to say that the audience for whom a movie was intended will love it?

  7. Ken Hanke

    That’s an old pet peeve of mine. How meaningful is it to say that the audience for whom a movie was intended will love it?

    Well, it isn’t meaningful in the least, which is why Mr. Lincoln constructed the famous sentence that renders itself so non-commital as to lose any vestige of actual endorsement — “People who like this sort of thing will find this the sort of thing they like.” It does, however, rather indicate that old Honest Abe honestly doesn’t include himself in that group.

  8. The director lost me in the 2nd one, turning it into one big love story. 1st one had my attention and I liked it, but if the 3rd is anything like the 2nd I will probably never watch it.

  9. Ken Hanke

    The director lost me in the 2nd one, turning it into one big love story. 1st one had my attention and I liked it, but if the 3rd is anything like the 2nd I will probably never watch it.

    I pretty much dislike all three, but I really hated the first one. I don’t think you can blame the director for turning the second into one big love story — that’s all it really is anyway — ‘cuz near as I can tell the blame for that lands on the source “novel.” The third would probably suit you better, since it does have some action.

  10. Ken Hanke

    Is it too much to hope that Bill Condon will bring in Ian McKellen as Van Helsing to finish them all off?

    Probably. I’m afraid Condon has gone over to the dark side.

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