Review: The Twilight Saga: Eclipse
PLOT: When we last left the Cullen clan, Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) had just asked to be made a vampire, in order to enjoy immortality with her undead boyfriend, Edward (Robert Pattinson). Not wanting to damn his love to an eternity without a soul, Edward has spent the last few months trying to convince her to stay human to no avail. At the same time, her friendship with the werewolf Jacob (Taylor Lautner) has taken a turn for the worse, with him swearing to break off any ties with Bella once she becomes a vamp. Meanwhile, the vengeful Victoria (Bryce Dallas Howard) has been building an army of newly created vampires, in the goal of destroying the Cullen clan, and having her revenge on Bella.
REVIEW: I'm about as far from a TWILIGHT fan as you can get. I avoided the first film like the plague, and when the second one came out in November, I didn't review it. Months later I received a DVD of NEW MOON to check out for DVD Clinic, so finally I had to give the franchise a shot. I honestly could not believe how awful it was, considering all the cash it made in theatres. Now, we all know that many big money makers are bad films, but NEW MOON was so cheaply made, and downright amateurish, it seemed like something that belonged as an MTV movie of the week.
However, over the last few weeks, TWILIGHT ECLIPSE has gotten some good buzz, with Entertainment Weekly even going so far as to run a cover story this week claiming it's the best of the franchise. That may indeed be true, but does that mean ECLIPSE is actually a good film?
The answer, of course, is no, ECLIPSE is not a good film. It sucks. Big time. Now, I don't want to get TWILIGHT fans swept up in a tizzy, as some will likely claim I went in prejudiced, and ready to hate it. Truthfully I did go in expecting to hate it. However, once upon a time I also expected to hate GONE, BABY, GONE as I wasn't much of a Ben Affleck fan but that's quickly become one of my favourite films. Rest assured, if ECLIPSE was good, I'd admit it, and this would be a different kind of review.
To start with, the acting in ECLIPSE is absolutely atrocious. Kristen Stewart is a good actress. To see that, one need only check out ADVENTURELAND, or one of her two Sundance films this year, THE RUNAWAYS, and WELCOME TO THE RILEYS. However, she's unbelievably dull as Bella Swan (although perhaps this is appropriate as she's such a dull and one note character). All she does is moon over Edward, and mope when he's not around. She has to be one of the worst female role models I've ever seen, and the fact that teenage girls flock to these films and emulate her passive character, that's defined only by her love for Edward, is very sad. I wonder if people would be able to see through these films if the TWILIGHT books were written by a man, instead of a deeply conservative woman?
Robert Pattinson is equally bad as Edward, but unlike Stewart, I'm not actually convinced he can act. It also doesn't help that Stewart and Pattinson, despite their supposed off screen romance, haven't got an once of chemistry between them. I should also note that it looks like Pattinson's been starving himself over the last few months, as he's so thin he looks downright anorexic and unhealthy, a far cry from the buff vampire he was in the last film (note: he NEVER takes his shirt off).
As for Team Jacob, Lautner's still a pretty young guy, so I can't judge him as harshly as the others, but he came off here as a whiny and petulant child. I should also say, dude, put a fucking' shirt on! Besides his initially clothed (albeit in a skin tight t-shirt) introduction, Lautner spends almost the entire film bare-chested, even when winter camping in the mountains! That said, dude is jacked, and he certainly hasn't let himself go between the films. The same can't be said for his wolf pack, with all of his formerly buff brethren either being too skinny, or paunchy enough there's no way they should have been allowed to go shirtless.
Meanwhile, Bryce Dallas Howard, someone I once though was a great actress, gives a hilariously bad performance as the hastily recast Victoria (Rachel Lefebvre was much better, and hotter) with her weird red wig looking especially strange. Poor Anna Kendrick, fresh off UP IN THE AIR, looks like she can't wait for this TWILIGHT nightmare to be over, although she only really has two big scenes, so shouldn't be too embarrassed.
Perhaps the material is to blame, with the dialogue, most of which seems to have been ripped right out of Stephanie Meyer's books, being so bad they make George Lucas' prequel scripts seem like they were written by David Mamet. I'm amazed Melissa Rosenberg, who does such an awesome job with DEXTER, keeps coming back to the thankless task of adapting the TWILIGHT novels although I supposed the big paycheck doesn't hurt.
Some people hoped the formerly edgy David Slade, of HARD CANDY, might give ECLIPSE a shot of energy but this is totally a paycheck job, with him doing a workman like performance behind the camera. There's no howlers like the 360 degree watch the seasons change as Bella cries shot from NEW MOON, but Slade doesn't try to distinguish this film at all. Meanwhile, the special FX, including the ridiculous obvious green screen, and CGI werewolves, seem like they were pulled out of a bad Cannon film. It's amazing that the TWILIGHT films could make so much money, without the producers at least trying to make the FX look passable, and a little less SyFy channel original movie-ish. I've seen better CG on episodes of STARGATE: ATLANTIS.
Overall, I absolutely loathed ECLIPSE. It's marginally better than NEW MOON, but that's like saying JONAH HEX is better than X-MEN 3. The difference is negligible, and this is still a shockingly bad piece of work. Five years from now, people will look back at the TWILIGHT SAGA, and wonder what the hell people ever saw in them. That's when those of us who always hated these films will point and laugh.
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