Eugene Weekly : Movies : 7.8.10


Wuv, Troo Wuv
“Best Twilight movie yet” isn’t saying all that much

ECLIPSE: Directed by David Slade. Screenplay by Melissa Rosenberg, based on the novel by Stephenie Meyer. Cinematography, Javier Aguirresarobe. Music, Howard Shore. Summit Entertainment, 2010. 124 minutes. PG-13.

Watch out!  The fur – and  sparkle – will fly

Eclipse is the least annoying book in the Twilight series. It lacks the batshit crazy elements of book four, Breaking Dawn, but it trucks along at a steady pace and offers a relatively credible threat in the form of the newborn vampire army created by Victoria (Bryce Dallas Howard, who replaces Rachelle Lefevre), the redheaded bloodsucker who lusts for Bella’s death for reasons familiar to readers of the previous books (i.e. everyone watching Eclipse). Sly Victoria has figured out how to hide her intentions from the prying mind of psychic vampire pixie Alice Cullen (Ashley Greene), sister (of sorts) to dreamy Edward (Robert Pattinson). The Cullens won’t know what hit them!

Except they will, because they know everything. This family is so perfect, they match. Purples and blues are very flattering shades for the vampire complexion. 

Eclipse, though an improvement over the first two Twilight films, is a silly movie about a silly love triangle. Vampire falls in love with human; werewolf is also in love with human; much pushing and chest-beating occurs. Staredowns abound, eyebrows furrow and proclamations of intent are made. Bella (Kristen Stewart) and Edward are in love. We know this because they say so. Jacob (Taylor Lautner) also announces his love for Bella. She must be in love with him, too, because he says so. Also, Jacob tries to kiss her. When she decks him, his incredibly werewolf body nearly breaks her hand. 

But this is forgivable. So is stopping Bella from leaving her house by disabling her truck or lying to her about the vampire threat building in Seattle. Keeping track of the bothersome things Bella’s suitors do in Eclipse is basically a full-time job; no wonder Bella seems to get mad, then get bored of being mad, then make out with Edward to alleviate the boredom. (She’d like to go further, but he’s too honorable for that. Or religious. Or old-fashioned. Or possibly concerned with her physical well-being.) The only interesting person in the vicinity is Bella’s dad, Charlie (Billy Burke), with whom she has a deliciously awkward discussion about … well, you know. “I’m a virgin!” Bella tells her father, as every single member of the audience squirms uncomfortably. 

Bella spends most of her time reacting to one of her suitors, giving her little by way of character depth, but Stewart, who’s become a more confident actress, makes an effort to give Bella a stronger presence. Her costars haven’t similarly grown (excepting Anna Kendrick, whose role as Bella-bud Jessica continues to shrink). Lautner — constantly shirtless (like all male werewolves; the lone female has no trouble locating her clothing) — was convincing in the wonky New Moon, but his talents run to uncertain, yearning teen, and he’s out of his depth with Jacob’s newfound assertiveness. Team Edward offers little but soft lighting, stellar cheekbones, chaste intentions and at least one useful sister-in-law. 

It’s tough to call whether the werewolves or vampires are less boring, but the vamps do have an unfair advantage: backstory! Via a succinct flashback, Rosalie (Nikki Reed)’s attitude toward Bella is explained; in a longer bit, we learn why Jasper (Jackson Rathbone) knows so much about newborn vamps. By contrast, if you come out of this film knowing which wolf is which, you probably deserve a medal. (I’ll get you one that sparkles.)

There’s a relatively interesting battle at the end of Eclipse, but it’s mostly oddly fascinating for its version of vampire physiology. (The fight itself is essentially endless vampire on werewolf collision: Snarl! Cut! Repeat!) Vampires, it seems, are made of porcelain and gasoline. One good punch will shatter their fragile little heads; one Zippo will swiftly send a beheaded vamp up in smoke. The fact that vampires drink blood — it must be in their systems somewhere, no? — is overlooked in favor of some non-bloody, PG-13 vampire violence, none of which is much more convincing than Edward and Bella’s undying love. Bring on the half-vampire baby already!