The Twilight Saga: Eclipse Review
If Eclipse is the best of the three Twilight films to date – certainly better than the overlong and sluggish New Moon - that’s partly because the novel it is based on was better structured and paced than the previous ones in the series. I still think that Twilight, New Moon and Eclipse could happily be edited down into one 500- or 600-pager without losing anything vital, though. (Full disclosure: as of this writing I haven’t read Breaking Dawn, which will hit the screen in two parts, beginning in 2011.)
The plot motor of Eclipse is the human/vampire/werewolf triangle of Bella, Edward and Jacob. While Bella is in love with, and agrees to marry, Edward, she still has feelings for Jacob. Meanwhile, beautiful redheaded renegade vampire Victoria (Bryce Dallas Howard) and her recently-turned sidekick Riley(Xavier Samuel) are responsible for a series of local killings and have Bella in their sights...
Edward and Jacob clash over Bella's affections like a pair of stags, to the point where Bella declares neutrality (“I’m Switzerland!”). I don’t buy the accusation that Stephenie Meyer is propounding a message of sexual abstinence – it seems more evident that she is sanitising reality to avoid dealing with a subject she feels uncomfortable with. No-one seems to be having sex in Forks, Washington, not even the bad boys and girls. (Another factor might be the age of the intende readership, though young-adult fiction certainly doesn’t have to be as squeaky-clean at this with regards to sex.) Eclipse was the novel where you can sense Meyer gritting her teeth to even broach the subject: notably in a scene where Bella has to tell her embarrassed Dad that she’s still a virgin. The film certainly knows its audience: if Taylor Lautner with his shirt off was the money shot in New Moon, he gets several topless scenes this time round.
Meanwhile, Victoria and Riley’s actions keep the central trio under threat, and the film takes time to fill in the history of the vampire and werewolf tribes, and the backstories of some of the supporting characters.
David Slade comes to this franchise after Hard Candy and 30 Days of Night. His main contribution.are some well-staged action scenes. They’re stylised and largely bloodless, but as they include some decapitations and a neck-breaking, they do push at the limits of the 12A certificate. Bryce Dallas Howard makes a striking villain, and Dakota Fanning (who costars with Kristen Stewart in the forthcoming The Runaways) reprises her brief role as Jane, emissary from vampire aristocracy The Volturi.
Eclipse will certainly please the saga's many fans: it's a well-paced film that we shouldn't be too easily dismissive of.