Eclipse: Ten Bright Spots in the Newest Twilight Film

You know, while Eclipse is the best of the Twilight films so far, it still suffers from many of the same crippling faults as the first and its sequel, New Moon. The acting by most of the leads is uninspired. The dialogue is stilted and far too serious. It’s slow paced and dreary. The villains obviously pose no real threat to the well-being of our heroes. The special effects aren’t terribly special at all. If you haven’t read the books, you will continue to wonder what the fuss is and you will in all likelihood feel lost. Still, new director David Slade perhaps injected a small bit of life into the series with his addition, ameliorating some of the series’ downfall. Since criticism of this film really doesn’t matter because every teen girl will see it anyway, I will instead do my best to list ten things I enjoyed about Eclipse. Ten things about this vampire film which didn’t *ahem* leave me cold.

1. It’s funny that Jacob makes constant references to him being warm and full of life and Edward being cold and soulless, since it’s exactly the same with their performances. Maybe Taylor Lautner and Robert Pattinson are just playing their parts well, but as bland and serious as Edward is, Lautner makes Jacob a far more appealing option. In this film he toys with Edward, making multiple deliberate attempts to make him jealous of how close he is with Bella. He has several one-liners that make me believe Lautner will have a career in action films after this interminable series is over. He’s the only one that has moments where I feel the actor shines through, not being smothered by the overwhelming intensity of the script.

2. Much like the Harry Potter films, whose visual styles changed with the passing of the directing torch, Slade finds the best style so far– a middle ground between Catherine Hardwicke’s indie flair and Paul Weitz’s Hollywood gloss. There’s enough lurking in shadow and visual variety to keep it somewhat interesting on the eyes, yet the scenes with effects don’t (always) seem out of place.

3. While some of the effects are still awful– it often seems like characters aren’t walking on the same plane as the wolves next to them– the occasional wolf moment works. I’m not certain they got the effects better this time than in the last film… but at least Edward’s glittering skin looks less fake, and the means by which vampires get destroyed is as interesting as I would have imagined (while managing to be totally bloodless, thus securing a PG-13 rating despite mass vampire carnage).

4. The big fight scene between the villainous army and our heroes is the best “action” scene in any Twilight film to date by a mile. These movies are so slow and dialogue-heavy that in this film they added a “training sequence” in which there is no actual training, just so we can watch the vampires run at each other quickly. That’s how desperate they are to keep us actually engaged. The big climactic fight is fine for the most part… well, except for the fact that none of the heroes get killed, since the army never posed a real threat for our heroes anyway. A couple of cool shots happen, such as when one character rips another’s arms off, and we see the arms fly away as they get tossed behind him.

5. There is a bit of added humor in this film. When Edward says as Jacob approaches, “Doesn’t that guy own a shirt?” everyone in the audience laughs, because it’s self-aware. Finally! The film is aware of its own stereotypes and foolish thoughtless one-dimensional plot twists! Jacob also makes light of the fact that evil vampires seem to always be chasing after Bella at one point. Words can’t express how much more enjoyable these Twilight films would be if they just had a bit more FUN in them. I realize Meyer wants her characters to suffer with massive amounts of teen angst (although Edward is old enough to be at least Bella’s great-granddad, though no one talks about it since it’s, you know, icky). However, the occasional one-liner would make the faithful far less restless and might even convert a fan or two. The films as they stand seem only to be aimed towards readers of the book, alienating those on the outside.

6. There are some interesting flashbacks that suggest these outlying supporting vampire characters have actual character depth to them. Rosalie (Nikki Reed) has a particularly dark flashback regarding gang rape, and Jasper’s Confederate soldier background makes him someone other than just “that blond guy.” I thought adding dimension to these characters meant they were hopelessly destined to die in battle, but I was giving the army too much credit. Instead, it hints that we should care about some of these characters not just because the leads do, but because they stand on their own. (The fact that their vampirism comes as a result of the evils of sex will be touched upon further at point #10.)

7. Speaking of flashbacks, can we please get one for Emmett, played by Kellan Lutz? It’s not even that he’s particularly interesting, since he isn’t, but he gets the funny one-liners in every film, and since we’re so used to glowering, intense pouts, and humorless bland dialogue, can we at least earn a little more screen time for one of the very few characters that seems to be having fun? Here he gets four or five lines as opposed to the usual one or two, so it’s a mild improvement.

8. There is a scene between Edward and Jacob in a tent in a storm at night that will invariably inspire multiple Brokeback Mountain parodies on Youtube (which will no doubt anger Stephanie Meyer, who is anti-homosexual rights and supported Proposition 8). The bottom line is when Edward isn’t with Bella, he becomes more interesting. His conversation with Jacob showed a glimmer of charm in Robert Pattinson’s otherwise one-note eyeballs. They share a natural chemistry. It’s enough to make me wish the two weren’t always fighting. Well, that, and the fighting is always so predictable and has happened so many times that no one with a brain really cares what happens between the two of them unless it somehow comes to blows.

9. The one consistent actor in this entire series has been Billy Burke as Charlie, Bella’s father. He brings the right level of emotional commitment and plays the concerned father to a T. The best scene in this film is one where he tries to transition a talk with Bella about marriage into sex and being careful with boys. It’s as awkward as a single father and his daughter conversation about sex would be, and we see Kristen Stewart start acting more than just bored for once, and the screen seems full of life for a couple of minutes. We had a sincere moment in a Twilight film. Pinch me, I’m dreaming. Of course, it all goes away once they cut to the next scene. But perhaps they can build on that sort of realistic father-daughter portrayal for the next film, and bring it to all the characters. Maybe.

10. Finally, someone shoot me, but I admire the effectiveness of Meyer’s pro-virginity propaganda, which I previously wrote about here. Here is a female character that most teen girls will relate to. She experiences independent sexual urges, not because some boy pressured her into feeling them, but because she feels them on her own– which is not a reality most Hollywood films are comfortable expressing. Her dream man is a man she wants to have sex with but knows that she shouldn’t… and he’s such a gentleman that when she tries one night to get him to take her virginity, he refuses, saying they should wait until marriage. She whines about how that’s an “ancient notion,” but you can tell she likes the fact that Edward cares for her “honor.” To her, sex is dangerous and she might never be the same– the parallels between losing your purity as a virgin and your soul as a non-vampire border on heavyhanded, but they read clearly. And perhaps I’m “old school” like Edward, but at a time when every song on the radio is explicitly about sex, and girls are singing about if a guy can get it up and is he big enough, it’s refreshing to see a female character girls can relate to that don’t just sleep with every guy because “that’s what people do.” The films are all boring, and this one still never fleshes out its interesting ideas on the full history of its characters and its philosophies on sex, marriage, and the modern woman… but there are at least vague hints here that they can right this ship and perhaps redeem the series with an engaging final chapter with action and dimension. Then again, working from Meyer’s books, maybe this ship was always meant to be the Titanic: big, bloated, full of money, but invariably destined to sink instead of float.

P.S. Can someone clue me in why this film is called Eclipse?

P.P.S. Meyer recently released a short book about a girl called Bree, cashing in on her Twilight saga. Bree’s story is included within this film. It is boring and has absolutely no purpose other than to distract from the plot and to perhaps sell a few more books for Meyer.

~ by russellhainline on June 30, 2010.

3 Responses to “Eclipse: Ten Bright Spots in the Newest Twilight Film”

  1. “Slade finds the best style so far– a middle ground between Catherine Hardwicke’s indie flair and Paul Weitz’s Hollywood gloss.”

    I totally agree. Eclipse is in some ways a return to the distinctive feel of the first while maintaining the larger scope and big budget look of the second. For example, Eclipse brings back the often blue tones of Twilight (but not nearly as excessively) as opposed to the warm color scheme of New Moon. (It’s even evident in the respective posters.) And Slade, like Hardwicke, uses a lot of close-ups of the three leads. Weitz’s direction was almost generic, which was fine as franchise bridge but not particularly memorable. In addition, Shore’s score is at times subtley reminiscent of Burwell’s magnificent (but too indie for some) score, while Desplat ignored Burwell and his score, like Weitz’s direction, was strictly conventional.

  2. To answer your question, the titles go along with what is happening within the book. I’m not totally sure about Twilight…I’m thinking it’s the end of an era/sun going down i.e. graduating high school, meeting Edward, wanting to “change” into a vampire/parallel for the mysterious life of a grown woman. Perhaps? Anyway I’m sure of this: New Moon has that title because when Edward leaves Bella, Jacob comes along to fill the void and is her “new moon.” In Eclipse, after Edward comes back and is in Bella’s good graces, he eclipses Jacob and is the focus of her world again, her “sun” (sun eclipses moon, clever, eh?). Nice post and blog 🙂

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