When I speak of my love of the vampire genre I always throw out references to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Underworld, 30 Days of Night, True Blood…the list goes on and on. However, unless directly asked I would never admit to having read all of the Twilight novels in a week or owning one of the two prior films. Maybe it is the mushy soap opera nature, or maybe it is how much the fanatical Twihards creep me out; but no matter the case, I was embarrassed to admit that I find some level of enjoyment from these stories. But after watching The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, I can now say with no shame that I am a fan of the Twilight series.
This entry into the series sees a lot of established storylines built into the previous films coming to a head as Bella moves closer to graduating high school. As far as the love triangle is concerned, Bella has yet to answer Edward’s proposal of marriage and Jacob is still stubbornly persisting in his hopes of convincing her that he is the right supernatural being for her. Also, Victoria has yet to give up her grudge over the Cullen family making a bonfire out of her life-after-death mate at the end of the first film, constantly trespassing into their territory. Though she is a common enemy for both the Cullens and werewolves, the proximity of the two groups is still causing some tension. However, when a nearby spree of violence in Seattle starts to grow out of hand, the two groups are forced to form a truce to defend their home of Forks and the secrecy of their existence.
In the first Twilight film the love story between Bella and Edward was as awkward as it was cute, but when Edward left Bella in New Moon things spiraled out of control. It was an emotional rollercoaster for Bella, and in all honesty the extent of the melodramatic nature of her breakdown was far too uncomfortable for me to enjoy playing witness to. But now I am happy to say that third time is a charm, as Eclipse has been able to find a bearable representation of this heightened love story. Don’t get me wrong, it is still as mushy as it ever was, but now instead of rolling my eyes at it I am back to giggling like the teenage girl these films usually cause me to revert back to.
Though this is a dangerous situation for the characters, it is not as dire and depressed as the previous film, with a lot of lighter moments that make it far easier to connect to the characters and enjoy the performances of the actors. Not to bash on her previous performances in any way because I have never had a problem with Kristen Stewart’s acting, but she is best off with this change. She seems to be fully comfortable in the role, mirroring Bella’s growth as a character as she gets more comfortable in her own skin. And let’s face it, it’s far easier to connect to her character this time around because she is no longer an emotional wreck defined by the loss of her boyfriend. Robert Pattinson gets the same boost to his character by being allowed to relax his face from an agonized brood with scenes between the two in which they are allowed to act like a happy couple. And to round out the love triangle, it is fun to watch both he and Taylor Lautner play off each other as they butt heads over their mutual love interest.
Something that I have always been happy about is the inclusion of the smaller characters in these films, and Eclipse is no exception. Stewart gets to show even more depth in some heartfelt and fun scenes with Sarah Clarke and Billy Burke as her parents, with Burke continuing his part as one of my favorite characters of the films. The high schooler friends are back briefly, and they take full advantage of having Anna Kendrick by giving Jessica a speech at their graduation. As for the Cullen family, special mention must go out to Jackson Rathbone and Nikki Reed who both take advantage of their brief moment in the spotlight thanks to flashback sequences for their respective characters, and though Jasper’s seems much more relevant in the context and flow of the film, Reed provides my favorite comedic bit in Rosalie’s flashback. My only complaint is that there is far too little Alice in the films, who is easily my favorite character of the books. Here’s hoping Ashley Greene gets her moment as Rathbone and Reed did here.
The trailers definitely over-exaggerate the amount of action in Eclipse, but what little is included is quite amazing to watch. In addition to this, the CGI werewolves look pretty good and as realistic as I expect from computer generated creatures. Their addition into the culminating battle alongside the Cullens adds a great change of pace from usual fights scenes, as well as another level of viciousness. The violence is more than I expected, with vampires’ bodies being audibly shattered as they are torn limb from limb, and it is quite the sight to see.
With the fan base and history that these films have already had, there is no doubt in my mind that Eclipse will do really well in theaters. However, this entry into the series is stronger in every way that the previous films, making it far more deserving of the success.
Final Grade: B+