Eclipse is the third installment in the Twilight Saga, but unlike the previous films this one feels like a deserving blockbuster, with a faster-paced story and more action. Of course, the things that make a Twilight film what it is -- teenage romance and bloody danger -- still remain, but this film feels less sappy and more urgent while at the same time avoiding the hormonal deluge of Twilight and the sleepiness of New Moon. Director David Slade nails the tone and intercuts bouts of breezy romance, sexual tension, and suspenseful action, while screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg skillfully translates Stephenie Meyer’s prose into a digestible and coherent narrative. Some of the themes stay the same, but Eclipse gets right to the thing that makes this franchise so popular: the love triangle between Bella, Edward, and Jacob. It’s the ultimate fantasy -- a young girl is forced to choose between two equally tall, dark, and broody men who yearn for her. This desire leads to conflict, and Bella finds herself stuck between the vampire she loves and the wolf she’s falling for.
In Eclipse, Edward is determined to marry Bella and Bella wants to lose her soul and virginity to her broody vampire beau. Edward wants to keep her pure and living as long as he can, and so does Jacob for that matter, who gets angry after Bella tells him that she’ll become a bloodsucker after graduation. After the requisite reintroductions of minor characters, the film picks up quickly. Victoria’s back, but this time she’s created herself an army of newborn vampires -- undisciplined yet powerful and extremely dangerous. In order to protect Bella, an unlikely alliance forms between the wolf pack and the Cullens, which leads to Edward and Jacob teaming up -- and bumping heads -- all in a bid to keep her safe and win her heart.
Rosenberg broadens the series’ scope, this time incorporating backstories for supporting characters Jasper and Rosalie and adding meatier rolls for Bryce Dallas Howard and Dakota Fanning, but most importantly, Bella and Edward are allowed a wider range of emotions. The sexual tension between stars Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson is pretty hot, and despite the fact that all they really do is kiss, the chemistry is definitely there. Both actors seem more comfortable in their roles -- though Taylor Lautner stands out as the shape-shifting werewolf making Bella’s decision that much more difficult.
But like all the Twilight films, there’s a balancing act between swooning cheesiness and gothic slaughter. With sweeping shots of the mountains of British Columbia as stand-ins for Forks and slightly better special effects than in previous Twilight films, Slade alternates between suspense and romance with careful precision. There are times when the film pokes fun at itself -- like when the Cullens joke about throwing a party because “how many times are you going to graduate from high school?” or when Edward comments to Bella about a shirtless Jacob, “Doesn’t he own a shirt?” -- but true fans will love this installment, which is easily the best so far in the series, for the simple fact that Eclipse is the film in which Bella finally chooses between Edward and Jacob.
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