World's Most Unconvincing Love Triangle
So, if you are familiar at all with Stephanie Meyer's book series (and if you are, I pity you), then you are probably pretty savvy as to the whole, big deal. So, in the interest of time and word count, I won't bore you with the basics. Anyway, Bella and Edward have found a good spot in their relationship, and are happy, for a change. Bella is optimistic about the future, and looking forward to the day where Edward will turn her into a vampire like him. This doesn't sit well with her best friend, Jacob, who wants to be more then friends with Bella. But, all this cheesy love is only half the story. The other, and more interesting, half involves the return of Bella's nemesis, Victoria, as she tries to get revenge for the death of James way back in the first movie. To go about this, she has been busy forming an army of new born vampires, led by the slimy Riley, to march on Forks and destroy the Cullen clan and Bella. To combat this new threat, the Cullen's must ally themselves with their enemies, the werewolves, and prepare for an epic battle. Unlike New Moon, where nothing of substance occurred, stuff actually happens in Eclipse. There are high stakes and tension, two traits that were seriously lacking in the previous films. It's still a pretty weak plot, and you can't connect or relate to it at all, but, for the series, it's a huge step forward.
All the actors from the past movies return, and, guess what? They are all better. It would seem that the few minutes they spent with Michael Sheen in New Moon rubbed off, and they actually decided to try acting for a change. Taylor Lautner as Jacob is still the strongest of main triumvirate. He has pretty good comic timing, has gotten better at conveying emotion, and looks appropriately sexy without his shirt on. He's still not very good, but, there's definite talent starting to show through. Ditto for Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson. Stewart seems to be bringing some of her almost limitless talent that we have seen in the likes of Adventureland, The Runaways and Welcome to the Rileys, and applying it to Bella. She's still the most unrealistic teenage girl ever, but there are some relatable qualities starting appear. Robert Pattinson is still the weakest of the three, but, even he shows improvement. I would credit the script more then him, but, he actually shows, you know, real emotion. It's kinda off putting. I was getting used to him being made of wood.
The new additions to the cast are fairly decent, if forgettable. Bryce Dallas Howard replaces Rachelle Lefevre as big baddy Victoria. I felt nothing for Howard, because she was barely in the thing. She didn't do a better job. She didn't a worse job. She was just there. Ok then. The role of the interesting and formidable villain falls to Xavier Samuel as Riley. He doesn't have much to do, but he looks damn good doing it. He is probably the most convincing vampire in this entire series so far. He's scary, fairly compelling, and, at times, badass. Unfortunately, he's woefully underused. So is Dakota Fanning, who returns as the sadistic Jane. She's in the movie for a measly five minutes. It's a huge shame, because she owns those five minutes. Speaking of underused, Michael Sheen isn't even seen at all as his deliciously creepy Aro. I don't really understand why the filmmakers insist on throwing their most talented actors the smallest roles, but, whatever. At least they're in the thing. Performances here still leave a lot to be desired, but, compared the pathetic excuses from the last two movies, they are tolerable.
Oh Look! It's the best part of the movie!
Director David Slade is the best thing to happen to The Twilight Saga. Finally we have a director who, not only understands the vampire genre, but realizes how friggin' stupid this whole franchise is. There are a ton of cheeky moments that poke fun at the whole ridiculousness of the series, and how completely out of proportion it has grown, as when Edward asks Bella if Jacob owns a shirt, or when Jacob snidely declares that he is hotter then Edward. Score one for Team Werewolf! Not only does the movie have a self-deprecating feel to it, it's also much darker. There are some pretty intense scenes, mostly involving Riley and his army, that do tons to create a feeling of danger and fear that was completely absent from the previous films. The action has been significantly improved as well. The final battle between Riley's vamps and the Cullens is so unnecessarily epic, but, I loved that. It was the most fun of the entire movie. Slade is a smart man. He took what few things that were decent about the first films, and made them good. I wish he were returning for the last installment, but, sadly, this is not the case.
Not everything is good though. As a matter of fact, there is a whole hell of a lot that is not good! The script is still one of the most juvenile and painfully written things around. Not Last Airbender bad, but pretty close. The acting is still awfully forced in some areas, made doubly noticeable by the fact that it is actually really good in some other places. The famous tent scene, and ensuing conversation between Edward and Jacob is the best acted and written thing to come out of Twilight thus far, so why don't they put the same amount of effort into the rest of the movie? I don't have a clue. The CGI is still shoddy as all holy hell! The wolves look better, but they still have a ways to go before they look lifelike. The speedy vampire thing still looks really fake as well. I mean, seriously! True Blood does fast vampires so much better, and for half the budget! Come on studios! There is stuff to like in Eclipse. That's the first time I've said that about a Twilight movie. That being said, there is still a ton to hate.
This is hardest type of review write. Not because I have a strong opinion of the film, or anything. It's just that I don't care anymore. I don't care about this franchise. I guess I never did, but, I'm at the point where I don't feel the need to watch the next one. The Twilight Saga is bad. But, I don't hate it. I no longer have the energy to hate it. I've just learned to accept that it's here, and it is inexplicably popular. Eclipse is far and away the best in the franchise. It's not good enough to change my mind about Bella and her lifeless boy toy. It is good enough, however, to let me go to sleep knowing that this is probably the best level of quality that the series will ever reach. You know what? I can live with that. If you loved the last ones, you'll love this one. If you hated the last ones, you'll hate this one. If you haven't seen the last ones... well, then you're a stronger person than I. Maybe I can buy you a drink sometime.