Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of action and violence, and some sensuality.
Starring Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Bryce Dallas Howard, Billy Burke, Xavier Samuel, Dakota Fanning, Justin Chon, Anna Kendrick, Michael Welch, Christian Serratos, Jackson Rathbone, Ashley Greene, Sarah Clarke, Peter Facinelli, Elizabeth Reaser.
Written by Melissa Rosenberg, based on the novel by Stephenie Meyer.
Directed by David Slade.
Here come the vampires and werewolves again, or at least Stephenie Meyer's version of them. I don't keep it a secret that I am not a fan of the series, and that I have never read the books (and I never will). The reasons for my general distaste for the Twilight Saga are varied, but can generally be traced to my distaste for sappy, illogical romances, and a general lack of respect for vampire lore. The Twilight Saga: Eclipse is the third movie version of the book series, and despite my reservations about the story of Bella and the previous movies, I have to admit I was a little surprised at the outcome.
Kristen Stewart plays Bella Swan, a moody recluse of a teenage girl living in the Pacific Northwest town of Forks, Washington with her single divorced dad (Billy Burke). Bella is enamoured with local vampire Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) and longs for him to bite her and turn her into a vampire so they can be together forever (yawn).
The story picks up where the last film (New Moon) ended, with Edward asking Bella to marry him. Not too far away in the land of Seattle, "newborn" vampires are popping up everywhere, feeding on the innocent coffee-drinkers of upstate Washington, while turning some of them into more vampires. Who is behind the new Seattle vampire army? Well Dakota Fanning, of course (playing some sort of big-wig in the vampire council, known as the Volturi). Okay, maybe it's not Dakota Fanning, but the leader of a rival clan to the peaceful Cullen gang named Victoria (Bryce Dallas Howard). It would also seem that someone in the Volturi is overly concerned with some moody teen girl in Washington, and there's some kind of plot to get rid of her.
To be honest, this is where the whole Twilight story lost me in New Moon, but I digress.
Another part of New Moon that lost me was the introduction of Jacob (the ever-shirtless Taylor Lautner - not that I feel threatened by all the female attention he gets or anything) into the love life of Bella. Jacob is a werewolf (the natural enemy of vampires), and part of a gang of other shirtless hunky native Americans who roam the forests surrounding Forks as they morph between human and wolf form, howling and flexing and stuff like that. Jacob loves Bella, and Bella loves him, but loves Edward more, hence the love triangle that is Twilight. Why Bella is so entranced by a cold skinned vampire over a warm-blooded hunk is beyond me, but maybe it's a good thing that I don't get it. My lovely wife feels pretty much the same way, and she has actually read the books (her review of 'Eclipse' can be seen here).
Back to the story.
As Victoria closes in on Bella, the Cullens and wolf-people form a truce to protect her. A battle ensues between the good vampires, the bad vampires and the wolves but not before a LOT of romantic dialogue, kisses and wistful looks are exchanged between Bella, Edward, and Jacob (not all three at once, thank goodness). The inclusion of Jane of the Volturi (Fanning) into the battle's end seems ominous, sort of like a Star Wars-esque Pallpatine influence, sure to come to fruition in the Twilight finale.
Incidentally, Edward again proposes marriage to Bella, setting up what is sure to be some sort of neck-biting scene in the next sequel.
Allright. Despite all my problems with the so-called "Saga," Eclipse isn't that bad. The acting performances are better, the action is better, and the pacing has a little less romantic exposition (i.e. 'wistful looks') than the other Twilight films. Another upgrade is the dialogue. While the screenplay still has its share of Meyer-isms (see: sappy) there are also a few quite humorous moments in which the actors are allowed to poke a little fun at themselves (think: shirtless).
I'd have to admit that there were moments in the film I actually enjoyed, unlike the previous two Twilight movies, which I mostly endured rather than watched.
Suffice to say that The Twilight Saga: Eclipse is the best film of the series.
Then again, it didn't have a very high bar to exceed.