Review: Twilight: Eclipse

Whilst bloodsucker Edward (Robert Pattinson) and werewolf Jacob (Taylor Lautner) are busy insisting that Bella (Kristen Stewart) loves them and not the other, the other members of Edward’s clan have heard word of a new vampire army created by the vengeful Victoria (Bryce Dallas Howard) and headed by Riley (Australia’s own Xavier Samuel) are on their way and targeting Bella. So the two himbo rivals must put their differences aside in order to come together and protect the girl they both love. Peter Facinelli, Nikki Reed, Ashley Greene, and Kellan Lutz return as Edward’s ‘family’, Dakota Fanning appears briefly once again as vampire Jane, Anna Kendrick plays Bella’s friend Jessica, and Billy Burke and Sarah Clarke play Bella’s parents.

There’s only two reasons why I bothered with this film, the third in the “Twilight” series; 1) It was on TV, and as you know I have no life, and 2) The previous film, “New Moon” sucked ever so slightly less than the first film. Well, this one, which has been directed by the normally edgy David Slade (the overrated “Hard Candy” and the much underrated vampire flick “30 Days of Night”), is not much better or worse than “New Moon”.

At least this one gets off to a good start, the brief rain-drenched opener is far and away the best thing in any “Twilight” film thus far. It actually looks really cool. Unfortunately, after that it’s yet another mopey version of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” with Edward as Angel and poor Jacob relegated to the role of vanilla also-ran Riley. Actually, scratch that, Riley at least got some action during the series. Edward is still the most boring man on the face of the planet and Robert Pattinson still has the face of a wet fart, but poor Taylor Lautner (who on evidence here is ever-so slightly a better actor than Pattinson) really gets it worse. In this film, Jacob becomes genuinely unlikeable (so does Bella mind you, more on that later). Jacob is a writer’s device, a roadblock or speed bump in the way of Bella and Edward, just used to stretch a thin story out (the weird thing being that his whole fiery werewolf vibe gives Lautner more emotion to work with than Pattinson). The fact that Jacob isn’t aware of this makes him even less likeable. He’s deluded and borderline creepy stalker here, he seems to be the only one who thinks he’s part of a love triangle (well, aside from the filmmakers). Bella’s clearly not into him, never moreso than in this film, and his not getting an effing clue makes him obnoxious beyond belief after three films now.

How can one get invested in a love triangle when Jacob is clearly just a speed bump, whilst both Bella and Edward are in love...with Edward? Talk about a ‘Bizarre Love Triangle’, but then we’re talking about supernatural interspecies romance, so perhaps I’m just thinking about it too damn much. I will say, though, that I hate the character of Bella with a passion. A big part of it is Kristen Stewart’s sulky, open-mouthed performance, but credit where it’s due, she has learned to smile since “New Moon”. She smiles here. Twice. Good for you, Kristen. It’d help if you didn’t look alternately bored and stoned, though. But there can be no doubt that Bella is an obscenely sulky, self-absorbed girl who like totally thinks she’s mature and everything. She’s the most selfish and pretentious twat on the planet. Given she repeatedly tells Jacob she doesn’t love him (and when she tells him she does, I wasn’t believing it), and is marrying Edward, the scene where she kisses Jacob makes her out to be reprehensibly selfish. I mean, she does it with Edward right there watching. Towards the end Bella actually utters the line ‘It’s about who I should be and who I am’. Yes, Bella. Forget Edward and Jacob, it’s all about you, you selfish cow! All of the characters are so agonisingly depressing. I mean, I hated my teenage years for the most part too, but surely not all 365 days of the year are like that, are they?

And boy is this film reverse sexist. I mean, if the situation was reversed, there’d be bras being burned everywhere, but no, because it’s for teen girls this view from a girls’ gaze is somehow acceptable. At one point Edward asks of Jacob ‘Doesn’t he own a shirt?’ and he’s asking what all males who bother watching this are going to be thinking. Teen girl audience or not, there’s absolutely no goddamn valid reason why he can’t wear a shirt. Warm-blooded or not, no one goes shirtless in the snow, and even when waiting outside whilst someone is seeking medical attention, the wolves in human form don’t wear shirts. What the hell? The weird thing about all this sexualisation is that the author of the novels is clearly aiming for a conservative view on teen sexuality. It’s a very chaste message being addressed throughout the series (not necessarily a criticism of the novels- which I haven’t actually read- just an observation), quite in keeping with other pop culture examples (cheesy, squeaky clean stuff like the insufferable “Glee”) and cultural movements of the 00s (chastity seems to be ‘cool’ these days) that to this 80s child seem to belong more to the 50s rather than the new era. So I just don’t get the obvious objectification of the teenage human male form in these films, it seems to go against the rest of it, if not being outright cruel to the teen fangirls who will likely be horny as hell by the time they realise this whole time that Stephanie Meyer is trying to teach them the joys of ‘waiting’. Then again, I’m sure they’ve all read ahead anyway.

The whole film suffers from ‘middle film syndrome’ despite being the third film in the series (usually it’s the second film that suffers from this). When you think about it, this is a story that could easily be told in two hours, but has been stretched to several films, resulting in a lot of time wasting and repetition. No more is it evident than in this film, which is essentially the same film as the previous two, and with essentially the same characters. It’s always about a rogue group of Emo vampires taking on Edward and his clan, with Bella the bait in the middle. That happened in the first film, the second film, and now here. Except now Jacob and his werewolf clan reluctantly help out a bit too. Oh, that’s such a difference! Um, no, it’s merely putting off their battle for another day. i.e. It’s a freaking holding pattern. Nikki Reed’s character finally gets some decent dialogue after three films, but all it does is reaffirm that this film is just the holding pattern for the next instalments. Billy Burke is back as Bella’s dad, and after three films he finally shows that he actually gives a shit about his daughter. Great...but he’s still the most useless and ineffectual parent on the planet.

There are three things, though, that suggest what could’ve been; Firstly, a ye olde flashback involving a foppish vampire and some werewolves, which I really wished was the film I was watching. Then there’s a civil war vampire who appears relatively briefly and is one of the only interesting characters in the entire series. Someone needs to go and make a vampire film set in the Civil War era. Finally, we have a brief passage where Bella goes to visit her mother (Sarah Clarke). I liked this because it allows the film a sunny and bright appearance. Unfortunately, after that, it’s back home because you can’t brood and mope in the sun, so we have to go back to the blue filters and gloominess. Damn. It is the most vibrant and colourful-looking film in the series, but ultimately not by much. The scenery is more varied, and at times it’s quite bright.

There’s some seriously dubious stuff going on in this film involving the werewolf and vampire characters, that has always bugged me but particularly here. For instance, do the humans all know about the vampires and werewolves? If not, they’re fucking blind. Those are some seriously pale people. And if they do know, we’re never given enough indication. Perhaps the novels explain this, but the films haven’t and it bugs me. I also have to wonder about the representation of the werewolves as all Native Americans. I mean, is it just these Native Americans or is the series suggesting that all Native Americans are werewolves? If it’s the latter, one has to wonder how so many Native Americans ended up dead. I mean, how did John Wayne manage to kill so many of them if they’re actually lycanthropes? Silver bullets in that thar’ six-shooter, Duke? Then again, the vampires here are no longer mere bloodsuckers, they’re freakin’ wuxia experts too. That’s just dopey, do vampires really need martial arts skills? Think about it. The pancake makeup on the vampires is, like “New Moon”, not too objectionable (they’re more pale in this one but the makeup is applied with a lot more finesse and delicacy), however, these aren’t vampires, they’re just anaemic people in every sense of the word. Boring, inappropriately blonde-haired, anaemic people. Ashley Greene’s Alice is the only vampire character I don’t actively hate. The stupid young hunk vampire villain (Xavier Samuel) is a bit more interesting than Edward and his clan, but seriously unthreatening, whilst Dakota Fanning and Bryce Dallas Howard collect checks.

The CGI wolves get a bad rap but to be perfectly honest, I’ve seen a lot worse. Yes, it’s clearly just CGI but they’re given size and a certain feeling of weight to them, which I liked. The contact lenses, however are worse than ever, and this time it’s mostly with Bella. For starters, this is the first film in the series where I even realised that Kristen Stewart was wearing brown contact lenses. It’s so obvious and distracting. But the yellow-brown contact lenses the vampires have are just plain ugly.

I openly admit that I’m the wrong audience for this kind of thing mostly based on my gender. However, even taking that into consideration, there’s just something supremely silly about these vampires (in particular) behaving like regular teenagers and talking about regular inane human teenage things, especially when there’s so much more mature stuff they’re otherwise occupying themselves with. It makes the whole story seem so juvenile. The weird thing is, TV is full of these supernatural-themed dramas for youngsters like “Buffy”, “Teen Wolf”, “The Vampire Diaries” (which is very much a “Twilight” rip-off), “Supernatural”, etc. But here it bugged me.

The screenplay is once again by Melissa Rosenberg (who wrote the previous two), from the Stephanie Meyer novel. One of these days, I’ll come across a “Twilight” film that’s almost worth watching. Well, that’s the dream at any rate. Oh, I enjoy pissing of tweener girls as much as the next person, but at least on some level, I always go into a film wanting to like it, even if I know I probably won’t. So it really offends me when a film just isn’t any good. And none of these films thus far have been any good.

Let the hate mail commence!

Oh, and one more thing. I’m going to marry Anna Kendrick one day. I just am, and y’all need to get used to it. She’s the sole bright spot in this entire series of films, and of course is never given enough screen time.

Rating: D+


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