Director: David Slade Release Date: 9th July 2010 Review by Lindsay Robertson Bella must make a choice – is Edward the love of her life or does her heart truly belong to her best friend Jacob... Hold on a second. That’s clearly the plot to last year’s Twilight: New Moon. Excuse my mistake and I’ll start again with my review of Twilight: Eclipse. Here we go – Bella must make a choice. Again. Same choice, same guys. It’s expressed right there in the opening narrative, courtesy of the subtle-as-a-brick form of symbolism we’ve come to expect from the series. This time it’s ‘fire and ice’. What happens when fire and ice collide? You get luke warm water – the perfect analogy for this tepid drip of a romance. Maybe I’m being unfair, because I’ve seen some definite character development within the central love triangle. Before, I’d written off Bella Swan (Kirsten Stewart) as being selfish, obnoxious and downright manipulative, whereas in this movie it’s completely different - now all three of the main characters come off as despicable in equal measures. If Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) was even a tad possessive in the first Twilight, that’s nothing compared to the douchebaggery exhibited in this latest offering – he seems to be there every time Bella turns around and has no qualms about forbidding her from seeing her best friend. He does provide a good dose of comic relief during the intimate scenes – check his face and tell me he’s not confusing ‘emotion’ with ‘constipation’. Mind you, if he’s been a vampire for almost a century then it’s probably been that long since he last took a dump. But I digress. On the other hand, has changed his tune about turning Bella into a vampire – apparently he found it morally objectionable to end her human life only until he found he could use it as a bargaining tool in order to score himself a nice little wife. Such a gentleman. Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner) should come off as a halfway decent by comparison, especially as he makes the highly valid point that perhaps Bella should reconsider (literally) throwing her life away for her high school boyfriend - a motif that runs throughout the entire film but naturally falls on deaf ears. However, his borderline psychotic fixation on Bella does nothing to endear himself, particularly when he’s telling her that he’d rather see her dead than join the Cullen family or shoving his tongue down her throat against her will. Perhaps a smack on the nose with a rolled up newspaper is in order, because Jacob just doesn’t seem to take ‘no’ for an answer. Lines that are, I think, supposed to be charming end up coming across as sleazy. He believes he has ‘imprinted’ on Miss Swan in accordance with the werewolf tradition of finding a soul mate through the art of convenient plot points. You see, she loves him but she doesn’t know she loves him yet, and he knows they will be together no matter what. Bella should be afraid of the big bad wolf – he may well be carrying Rohypnol. Scene after scene pans out in the same manner – Bella hovers around dumbstruck while her two suitors square up like they’re contenders on the final round of “Swaggering Prick of the Year” till one of them throws a hissy fit. I might have sympathised with her if only I’d believed for one second that her frustrations were genuine and that she was wasn’t lapping up the attention like a starving cat. The only thing close to a show of emotion from Bella was the look of glee on her face every time one of the boys adorned her with a shiny new bit of jewellery - one of the many methods that Edward and Jacob resorted to in order to mark Bella as their own (seriously, I thought it would only be a matter of time before one of them unzipped his trousers and pissed on her). Herein lies Bella’s other great dilemma – will she accept Edward’s engagement ring, the gaudiest bit of tat of them all? Never mind the general tackiness of the item in question (do a Google image search – isn’t it breathtakingly horrible?), she really struggles with the concept of marrying Edward. Being made a member of the living dead, tossing her human life aside and spending eternity with a blood guzzling control freak doesn’t cause her to bat an eyelid but marriage – now THAT’S a commitment she’s not sure she’s ready for. Give me a break. Surprisingly, in spite of all the tiresome bullshit between the three leads, Eclipse is by far the best Twilight movie to date. The pace has been picked up considerably, there is at least some semblance of a plot and more time has been dedicated to developing secondary characters who have essentially been serving as window dressing until now. The flashbacks to the past lives of the Cullens are not only welcome breaks from the main story, they also provide some long overdue insight into the characters and yet still drive the central narrative. Rosalie (Nikki Reed) recalls her own past traumas in order to dissuade Bella from choosing the life of a vampire and Jasper (Jackson Rathbone) harks back to his time in the American Civil War to serve as a military tactician in the battle against the rogue vampires. At least that’s the idea. In reality he gives little by way of instruction. “Don’t go for the obvious kill” – what the hell is the obvious kill for a sparkly vampire? There’s also the story of how Jasper meets Alice (Ashley Greene) and joins the Cullen family. Each of these histories prove to be by far more interesting that the main plot. Unfortunately, the same focus on creating three dimensional characters hasn’t really been given the new roles. Leah Clearwater (Julia Jones) the only female werewolf in a pack of excitable frat-boys, makes her debut in Eclipse. She might have been an interesting character to explore – a scorned young woman in a guy’s world who must try twice as hard to earn half the respect of her brothers – but no such thing has been attempted. Her history of being jilted by the pack leader for her own cousin is glossed over, leaving her with a few brief moments of screen time where she comes across as a surly bitch from hell and totally unlikeable. This shouldn’t come as any real shock – evidence suggests that it takes a good three movies to start developing a Twilight character if they bother at all. The villains also get their moment in the spotlight with the newly created vampires adjusting to their strength, speed and bloodlust by tearing Seattle to pieces. We witness their experiences first hand and see the mayhem escalate in a well planned deviation from the source material in favour of more exciting scenes. At any rate it’s an improvement on director David Slade’s previous venture into vampire fiction 30 Days of Night (four word review – 30 Days of Shite). Bryce Dallas Howard does a pretty decent job portraying Victoria and makes her character’s motivation towards revenge more believable than it has been in the previous film. The Volturi are something of a let-down this time however – they just drift onscreen now and again in black cloaks attempting to look a bit menacing and fail miserably, appearing more like a group of emo kids on their way to a gig. In general however, the movie benefits from the continued presence of the antagonists as it helps build tension, along with Howard Shore’s perhaps overly-ambitious musical score, and creates the feeling that the story is building towards a great climactic battle. The trouble is that the fight itself – all two and a half minutes devoted to it, give or take - is quite disappointing, perhaps even more so given the anticipation that’s been built up to the moment. Considering the fact that almost every character is involved, that the trailers scream ‘action packed’ and that the whole story builds itself towards an epic war of supernatural forces it seems utterly senseless that more time wasn’t spent on this scene. A decent pay-off may have actually made the audience (I’m thinking more of the people who get dragged to these than the ones who go of their own free will) forget about the repeated scenes of incessant whining from the three leads and seen more people leaving the cinema with an unexpected feeling of satisfaction. As for the Twi-hards, I’m sure most of them wanted to see their favourite members of the Cullen clan bust some freaky vamp moves and kick the crap out of Victoria’s army. There was barely any risk to the age certification, if that was the concern, because the vampires shatter when they die rather than end up a bloody mess. Some mindless, over-elaborate stunts with vampires and werewolves fighting – honestly, is this too much to ask? It might not be an original idea but at least it might have been fun to see. If there’s one thing worse than a bad movie, it’s a mediocre one that could have been pretty good with only a few tried and tested devices. I don’t know, maybe they were trying not to upstage the thrilling and not-at-all predictable outcome of the ongoing Edward and Bella saga. The one that takes them to more or less the exact same place we left at the end of New Moon. As I said, it’s drawn out and repetitive to an infuriating degree. Eclipse is pretty much the same story as before except with far more attention to pace and detail and with a lot more going in terms of sub plots and characters. It’s the best Twilight film so far and I can say that without a glimmer of a doubt. What does the future hold for the franchise? A seemingly un-filmable synopsis that for some reason is being made into two full length movies – I honestly can’t wait to see how they will even attempt to commit Breaking Dawn to film, especially since the franchise takes itself so damn seriously. Four words – talking mutant vampire baby. It could be the unintentional comedy of the decade. Photobucket