Director: David Slate
Cast: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Ashley Greene, Billy Burke, Peter Facinelli, Elizabeth Reaser, Nikki Reed, Kellan Lutz, Jackson Rathbone, Michael Sheen, Dakota Fanning
RunTime: 2 hrs 4 mins
Released By: Shaw
Rating: PG (Violence)
Official Website: http://www.eclipsethemovie.com/
Opening Day: 1 July 2010
In ECLIPSE, Bella once again finds herself surrounded by danger as Seattle is ravaged by a string of mysterious killings and a malicious vampire continues her quest for revenge. In the midst of it all, she is forced to choose between her love for Edward and her friendship with Jacob ― knowing that her decision has the potential to ignite the struggle between vampire and werewolf. With her graduation quickly approaching, Bella is confronted with the most important decision of her life.
They say three’s the charm, and how true it is for this third instalment of the Twilight saga- it has the tender heartfelt moments of love in the first movie, the hot-blooded romantic tension too diffuse in the second movie, and some genuinely thrilling action that was previously absent from both its predecessors. Indeed, it is no doubt the best film in the Twilight series so far and the one most likely to win converts who have always been clueless- or cynical even- of the unprecedented popularity of the franchise.
Wisely choosing not to follow wholesale the events as they unfold in the book, director David Slade and screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg have injected a palpable sense of tension throughout the movie. Opting to begin the movie with a gripping vignette where small-town boy Riley’s (Xavier Samuel) is stalked and then bitten by a vampire, Slade is ever mindful to bring the threat of the swift, red-haired vampire Victoria (Bryce Dallas Howard) front and centre- even as our favourite adolescent vampire Edward Cullen and adolescent werewolf Jacob Black continue to vie for the affections of Bella Swan.
Whether Bella has feelings for Jacob wasn’t so clear in “New Moon”, but it is in “Eclipse” that Bella will get the clarity audiences have been waiting for. Meanwhile, as Bella turns 18, she pleads with Edward to “change” her into a vampire, fulfilling what the Volturi had mandated after sparing her life and in the process sealing a covenant of love with Edward. It is no secret who Bella chooses to be with in the end, but unlike the ambiguity in the second film that must have left some audiences even more frustrated, “Eclipse” makes it clear why Bella chooses one over the other- and credit must go to Rosenberg for her finesse in conveying what author Stephenie Meyer did in her book in less words than more but without losing any of its essence.
“New Moon” too failed to flesh out the dilemma that Bella faced in her choice between Edward and Jacob- and where Chris Weitz has failed, director David Slade has adroitly accomplished in “Eclipse”. Here we finally get to understand the predicament that Bella faces- not simply a choice between two people or which one she loves more, but also one between autonomy and surrender, a decision that ultimately comes with irreversible ramifications.
Slade also uses the looming threat of Victoria and her army of newborn vampires led by Riley- apparently more vicious and ferocious than seasoned suckers- to add another dimension of Bella’s love for both Edward and Jacob. More than just humans with emotions, they are also creatures - one a vampire with a thirst for blood and the other a werewolf with a beastly rage- who have fought against their own impulses to protect someone they love.
So too Edward’s insistence at chastity before marriage, a deliberately old-school notion of romance (as the film itself acknowledges) that is, together with Edward and Jacob’s protective instinct over Bella, reasons why Twi-fans are so in love with these characters. The first movie’s portrayal of sweet unadulterated puppy-love may have been too syrupy for some, the second movie’s depiction of tangled love too (well) tangled, but this third film finally hits the right notes in portraying the very appeal of the Twilight series that could very well be universal.
Of course, the success of the earlier two movies are not for nothing- for the franchise has finally felt confident enough to even (gasp) poke fun at itself. It has taken two movies, but “Eclipse” finally develops a sense of humour that has arguably made the overall experience much more enjoyable. When Jacob turns up topless waiting for Bella, Edward asks mockingly “Doesn’t he own a shirt?” And one night up in the snowy woods when Bella is shivering under the covers, Jacob turns to Edward and says wryly: “Face it, I’m hotter than you.” These flashes of self-mocking wit make “Eclipse” seem less daft about its own clichés, and reveal a franchise that is finally learning not to take every detail about itself too seriously.
If “Eclipse” is refreshingly witty in parts, it is also refreshingly thrilling for the most part. What action sequences there were in the first two movies were anaemic at best, but Slade (who directed the horror movie “30 Days of Night”) finally makes full use of the potential within the vampires and werewolves premise to deliver fast and furious action, complete with an exhilarating climax that though bloodless (so it can be teen-friendly) will still leave you at the edge of your seat.
As always, Kristen Stewart is the best performer among the three, capturing perfectly the anxiety and uncertainty of her character. Real-life squeeze Robert Pattinson seems more comfortable onscreen and exhibits more range than just the moody, brooding persona he was before. On the other hand, Taylor Lautner seems to be maturing into a fine lead actor, his intense emotional performance mirroring the ferocity of his character’s nature.
Not simply in acting, but also in storytelling and direction, “Eclipse” is therefore a definite step-up from its predecessors. As it rightly should, it remains anchored around Bella, Edward and Jacob- but more than that, it gives reason to the love between Bella and Edward and between Bella and Jacob, enough reason to put back the bite in the vampire-human and werewolf-human romance. Sprinkled with wit and generous dose of pulse-pounding action, this third film most adeptly encapsulates the appeal of the Twilight franchise and should please both fans and neophytes alike.
(Easily Eclipse-ing its predecessors, this third instalment combines heartfelt romance, thrilling action and the occasional wit to be the best film in the franchise thus far)
Review by Gabriel Chong