Reviewed on July 18th, 2010
By James (administrator) & filed in the Movie Reviews vault
"This is my... BOOMSTICK!"
Despite my stereotypical male programming I have to confess I was pleasantly surprised by and dare I say it enjoyed both Twilight and New Moon. Which put me in an odd situation; derided by men but defended by women. Perhaps my ego should feel threatened by this but it doesn’t. In fact it seems to be embracing this hidden pleasure and as soon as the trailers for Eclipse started showing I found myself getting excited – not in any iffy way I assure you. Neither Team Edward or Team Jacob will be recruiting me.
The trailer looked good; more vampires, the Volturi re-appearing, werewolves sporting new and improved cgi and plenty of action. So off to the multiplex I sped full to the brim with anticipation and laden with peanut M&Ms. I was prepared to enjoy this film no matter what. And it was here that my master plan began to unravel.
I, despite expectations, enjoyed Twilight. Even finding the lengthy chatter and self-inspection somehow enticing. And then along came New Moon. And unexpectedly I enjoyed it even more than Twilight and was happy to meander with Bella through the trials and tribulations of how hard it is to be a teenage girl (not very hard it appears) and was thoroughly sated by the run in with the Volturi and getting to spend a bit longer with Alice (who with the exception of maybe Carlisle is the only member of the clan we have been allowed to get close to). I left the cinema with a happy feeling and knew all too well that while the books may never call to me as soon as it came out on Blu-ray I would be snapping it up to enjoy again.
So let’s fast-forward and get to the point. This was the first of the saga I had real expectations of and there lies my undoing. This is hard to explain, I enjoyed every minute of it and although I did feel a little bit mis-sold by the trailer (this isn’t the action fest it promised to be) I came out of the darkness quite happy but also slightly bothered. Eclipse is certainly a better film than Twilight but I have to disagree with the rest of the reviewing world who have decided it is the best of the three. It is a slightly flawed piece with a few annoyingly little inconsistencies and unanswered questions that managed to yank me out of my movie-going immersion and break the spell I was hoping to stay under for its rather lengthy running time.
I still recommend anyone go and see it as it is enjoyable and of course is a crucial piece of the saga but be prepared to be left a little wanting.
Curiously I have just noticed my review of New Moon stated that I preferred its predecessor. I am sure at the time that was true (maybe I was hung up on the big dogs) but it seems that with repeat viewing and the beauty of hindsight I was wrong. Twilight is a perfect setup but New Moon is a superior piece that allows room for character and story progression that make you feel instantly that you are in familiar territory and that you can let someone else take the reins for two hours.
Brief synopsis time: Bella still wants to become a vampire, Edward is still resisting despite wanting to marry her, Victoria is out for revenge and builds a vampire army, Bella is forced to face her feelings for Jacob (although he is now “Jake” as apparently that makes him sound cooler), the werewolves and the vampires join forces to face the new threat and the awkward love triangle finally comes out of the closet. Oh and the Volturi re-appear and don’t do much. And as an aside the poster for part three is pants – completely devoid of emotion and style.
The pacing is good and the effects are vastly improved. Taylor Lautner manages to up his game and bring genuine feeling and pain to the screen (and frankly if you don’t think Bella needs her head examining then you do too – or you’re a 13 year old emo girl, in which case you also need it examining. Deal with it.). However the parts that stood out for me were the backstories of Jasper and Rosalie. I half expected all the supporting characters to continue to be little more than wallpaper and so was pleased to see their parts fleshed out. Jasper has gone from creepy and starey to having history, strength and worth and Rosalie’s pain and sad tale not only bring out a sympathetic and comedic side but also make you understand why she is against Bella being turned. Both actors seize the opportunity and prove that they are capable of holding centre stage (if only for a while). The rest of the supporting cast are solid with Billy Burke (we need to see him in more films) again providing the emotional backbone to Bella’s human life. As per usual Mr Pattinson doesn’t do too much other than look uncomfortable about just about everything – but girls seem to love it so who am I to deprive them of that dubious pleasure.
There was a lot of hooha about Rachelle Lefevre being replaced in the part of Victoria by Bryce Dallas Howard. At the time the reasons didn’t seem too convincing and personally I feel it was the wrong move. I had been happy with her performance and assumed the producers felt they needed a better actress to take on the larger role that Eclipse required. Except that it wasn’t that big a part and Bryce Dallas Howard’s rather throwaway performance appeared to portray an entirely different character. Gone was the vicious and in came, well a bit wet and pathetic. I have no idea if this is closer to the books but when an actor is replaced surely we should still be left with the feeling that it is the same character?
A couple of times I had to whisper in the darkness to my better half as I found myself becoming confused and feeling I must have blinked or simply not understood something. Nope, apparently that was the film and not me. Point in case, Jasper. Previously when Bella got cut Jasper had a bit of an eppy moment and couldn’t control his blood lust – this was explained as him being a fairly new vampire and not fully in control of his urges. And yet now we are told that not only is he older than other members of the clan but he was a ranking military officer and a former vampire army trainer and executioner. All handled with skill and control and not at all reminiscent of his brief scenes in part two.
Then we have the inside of a vampire. So what exactly is in there? I know they are meant to be hard to touch but they now appear to be made of crystal and crack easily. In Twilight we clearly saw evidence of something different and I was left with the impression that anatomically they weren’t too different to us. This just didn’t make sense. How can a werewolf bite off a vampire’s hand without breaking all his chompers? How would you drive a wooden stake into a crystalline chest? Why does biting their necks make their heads fall off? And so on!
I can only assume this was to keep the ratings down. Eclipse features more graphic action than its earlier companions and presumably that amount of on-screen blood would potentially have blocked the film getting the rating it needed to allow it’s primarily early-teen audience to gain admission.
And while we are on the subject of the vampire army… New vampires are apparently more dangerous, less predictable and stronger than our friends the Cullens. Otherwise there would be no need for the alliance and so much worrying. But it all seemed too easy – they literally get taken apart at a lightning pace and with seemingly little difficulty. At no point do you actually worry about any of our permanent cast members. Don’t build up a threat to a credible level and then de-power them so badly! And while we are at it if an older vampire headbutts a newer, “harder” vampire why does the new guy’s head shatter but the old guy only sustains a bit of crazy paving in the forehead region? It just doesn’t make sense. Again.
These are admittedly small points in what is an otherwise thoroughly enjoyable film. If you liked the first two then this is a foregone conclusion and you will go and see it anyway. I just hope that come the final chapters (book 4 has been split into two films to milk the franchise even further) any inconsistencies are polished out of the script before filming begins and let’s hope there aren’t anymore cast changes – don’t forget Jacob almost bit it until he buffed up. Apparently casting agents and producers don’t seem to understand the concept of recurring roles being played by the same actor…
As a small aside, I, like most of the world, had heard about the knowing wink to the audience when Jacob says to Edward that he is hotter than him. It made me chuckle mildly but also made me cringe a little. However to the row of girls sitting behind me this might well have been the best 15 seconds in the whole film! Shrieks of glee and over-exuberant giggles served to remind me that yet again I was the only man in the audience
At the time I gave Twilight 7 out of 10 and New Moon got 6. If I had the luxury of re-scoring both I would have given them 7 and 7.5 respectively (even though we don’t do half points here) and for this installment I will pitch a happy 7 its way. It could have been an 8 but inconsistencies, a short lived battle scene and sub-par directing robbed it of the extra point it probably deserves.
Director: David Slade
Screenplay: Melissa Rosenberg, Stephenie Meyer (novel)
Starring: Kristen Stewart, Taylor Lautner, Robert Pattinson, Bryce Dallas Howard, Ashley Greene, Billy Burke, Jackson Rathbone, Peter Facinelli, Rachelle Lefevre, Elizabeth Reaser, Xavier Samuel, Kellan Lutz, Nikki Reed, Dakota Fanning
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