Few films have been so fair game for mocking and online-snarkery than the Twilight movies – two flicks that failed to achieve any resemblance to reality, and spiraled instead towards Mary Sue stereotypes perpetuated by stiff, unintentionally hilarious dialogue and acting. Revelers of the awful cinema, like myself, certainly have no room to complain. But with Eclipse, the third in the series, we’re all going to have to give Jacob, Edward and Bella a break because it turns out – hold onto your butts – The Twilight Saga: Eclipse fails to be a that bad of a film.
It seems that with the entrance of director David Slade (who delivered the brutal Hard Candy,) this vampire / werewolf faceoff has finally gotten some bite. Its greatest asset is its action sequences which, for being from a series about supernatural monsters, has never done very well in this department. But Slade’s sequences are taut and caused even this viewer, who really couldn’t care less who Bella ends up choosing, to clinch my fingers a couple of times. It never makes me sympathize with the characters in danger, but maybe that’s just due to exhaustion of indifference I’ve suffered from the first two chapters.
It does help, though, that the actors up their game in this one. Taylor Lautner, as the inexplicably half-naked and occasionally giant wolf character Jacob, overcomes his unintended natural ability to make every line he delivers hilarious. Neither Robert Pattinson nor Kristin Stewart improve as much, but they succeed in not making everything they say sound like a hyperbole. I’d be remiss not to mention Billy Burke who, as Bella’s father, has been legitimately good in all of the films, and keeps being just as awkwardly loving in part three. Perhaps these improvements are more in thanks to the script, but whoever’s responsible deserves a pat on the back.
But I don’t want to start sounding like Eclipse is a total success. Though a notable improvement, the series has yet to come close to justifying its gargantuan, frightening popularity. Although the dialogue’s come a long ways, there happens to be quite a bit of it. And clocking in at just over two-hours, these conversations push away a lot of the film’s enjoyability by making it feel a good thirty minutes longer. A couple of these scenes are refreshing, but mostly they’re unnecessary and full of metaphors written with the delicacy of the Hulk’s performance at a ballet recital. They really could have just been cut during post-production without much consequence.
But the biggest failure of the film – and the biggest fault of the series on the whole – is that they still haven’t sold the love story at the center of the story. They keep upping the stakes (oh, puns.) – Bella is willing to give up her life for Edward, Edward is willing to do the unthinkable to her for her – but they still haven’t shown us why they’re willing to do so much to be together.
Another downfall – and this is maybe just for me – is that this movie fails to be as entertaining as the other two. This isn’t anyone’s fault, as Slade’s picture is the only competent one; but anyone else who got a lot of laughs out of the other two movies aren’t going to have nearly as much fun in this one. It has several moments, but the skill brought into Eclipse (even if it’s nothing worth note) might be the worst thing to happen to the series.