I’m a middle aged guy (balding, beer belly, etc.), so I’ll admit it: I don’t get this whole Twilight phenomenon. Sparkly vampires and bare-chested werewolves fawning over a human, high school girl who isn’t that hot just don’t mix well with my testosterone (I can’t figure out how it mixes well with estrogen either, but it sure seems to have found a way to strike a nerve in girls of all ages). However, in between longing gazes and painful to listen to puppy-love banter, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, the third movie in the series, ramps up the deliverables so as to at least make the movie semi-palatable to those of us who can resist the urge to squeal when Edward or Jacob are on the screen.
The reason for that rests on the shoulders of director David Slade (better known for his gore fest vampire flick 30 Days of Night). Stuck with actors who can’t act very well and a weak, at best, love story, he’s pushed for more realistic effects and a more damning foe to rally against.
And he starts The Twilight Saga: Eclipse with a punch — a man is hunted and ultimately preyed upon by an unknown vampire. A vampire, it turns out, that is part of an army of newborn blood suckers. Led by Victoria (Bryce Dallas Howard), they’re intent is to dispose of Bella and bring on the downfall of the Cullen clan. But neither Edward (Robert Pattinson) nor Bella (Kristen Stewart) are paying much attention — they’ve got that deep, insatiable love (the kind that sickens onlookers who happen upon seeing it), on the brain. She wants to give him her “promised land.” He wants to marry her. She wants to become a vampire. He wants to marry her. She’s hesitant — getting married to a 109 year-old guy would make anyone hesitate, wouldn’t it?
Of course there’s that werewolf kid, Jacob (Taylor Lautner) sulking about with his shirt off. He yearns for Bella too and she him. He flexes his abs, girls in the audience swoon. Edward and Jacob still hate each other, as vampires and werewolves generally do, and poor, poor Bella just can’t make a decision. Who needs a concrete decision now though, when there are two more sequels to go!?
Putting aside their beef (both for the girl and from the millennia of interspecies hatred (of which there is some explanation)), the two immortals and their families come together to stave off the advance of the vicious, newborn vampire army. There’s a fair amount of biting, tearing, scratching and flailing to be seen during the climactic battle — enough to keep those uninspired movie goers from wishing for a swift death — but nothing so vicious and bloody that it’ll scare the prepubescent girls from the theater.
From the effects department, they’ve cleaned up the wolf transformations (literally making them cleaner, not cooler) and ultimately made the wolf forms much more lifelike (in the previous flicks they didn’t even bother to make them passable). The bounding vampires move more believably now too.
The Pacific Northwest is, as always, a site to see (especially to those of us on the East Coast who find ourselves surrounded by the Industrial Complex).
The Twilight Saga: Eclipse is, with certainty, the best of the lot so far. That sentiment will, however, give little solace to those forced to watch Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner non-act in theaters to support their daughters/sisters/mothers. Damn, it’s tough being a guy.