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Hal2001 07-02-2010 06:32 PM

David Slade's The Twilight Saga: Eclipse
Here's the link to the published version of my review in my column at The Richmond Examiner:

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (2010)

The first thing I had to do before watching the latest installment in the "Twilight" series was to go back and reread my review of the previous entry, "New Moon," because I hardly remembered a thing that had happened in that film. It turns out the main reason I hadn't remembered much was simply because barely anything had happened in the previous film, just one of many problems that weren't fixed between that film and "Eclipse." It was easy to go through the list of old complaints and check them off one by one as the film progressed, including a story that leads absolutely nowhere.

"Eclipse" once again finds Bella (Kristen Stewart) and vampire Edward (Robert Pattinson) still madly in love with each other. She still wants Edward to turn her into a vampire while he's still trying to talk her out of it and into marriage. Also still in her life is her other friend, Jacob (Taylor Lautner), a werewolf who also loves Bella. It is obvious that Bella also has feelings for Jacob, but she knows she wants to be with Edward. This leads to a lot of tension between the two boys.

Meanwhile, a vampire named Victoria (Bryce Dallas Howard) is building an army of vampires in Seattle to get revenge on Bella and Edward for the death of her boyfriend. Once Edward and his family realize what is going on, they must prepare for the coming battle, which will require a joining of forces with their enemies, the werewolves. This is further complicated by the continued rivalry between Edward and Jacob whose main thoughts involve protecting Bella.

Whereas "New Moon" had had a big problem in repeating itself, "Eclipse" has a similar problem in that it merely repeats "New Moon." Basically nothing has changed since the previous film. Both guys still want Bella and she still mainly wants Edward. Even the so-called villain is the same, but at least she's doing something slightly different.

However, this leads to another problem. The film continually teases you with the promise of a large battle that will inevitably take place. It teases for quite a long time before it ever gets there, and then it ends up lasting for maybe an entire minute. Luckily, this isn't including the smaller battle between the main characters, which at least lasts a little longer.

It teases as it wastes the entire first half of the film (which clocks in at an incredibly bloated two hours) by having its characters continue to brood and sulk in their heavy-handed emotions. The film ends up feeling more like a series of melodramatic conversations between characters who are as flat and lifeless as cardboard.

It certainly doesn't help that the same actors play the characters in the same low-key, wooden, monotone way that they did in the previous films. Ironically, you would think that nobody had a pulse in these films. How are we supposed to care about these characters when the actors don't even seem to?

Perhaps its because they too realize that the plot is practically non-existent and that the dialogue they are spouting is suited more for a soap opera than for the big screen (at least here it gets a little credit for being unintentionally funny). The dialogue has them running in circles, basically repeating the same few things over and over. We know that Edward and Jacob love Bella and that she cares about both of them. The screenplay doesn't need to drill those same few points home for two hours straight, and yet Melissa Rosenberg, the screenwriter who adapted the novels, feels the need to do just that.

Even with all these problems, does it really matter what any critic says about this film. We all know it's going to be insanely successful and make an absurd amount of money just because the fans of the books, or "Twi-hards,' will go see it. Apparently the fourth book is being split into two parts, so hopefully it will end with that. From what I've read about the fourth book, if they make a faithful adaptation of it, it could have at least a few interesting sections, but knowing the track record of these films, the filmmakers will probably take out anything that is even the slightest bit interesting and replace it with more melodrama (Gotta make that PG-13 rating!).

It will most likely involve Edward and Bella getting married and moving to Shady Acres where she'll have someone's baby, with who the father is remaining a mystery, of course. Meanwhile, Edward's long-lost twin brother, who everyone thought died in a car crash, will show up with amnesia. Oh well, so are the days of their lives. 2/4 stars.

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