Reconsidering Twilight: Eclipse

Continuing on our journey through the wonderful world of Twilight, we take a look back at Eclipse...
People got a little bit excited over Eclipse when it was released. After the universal panning of both of its filmic predecessors, plus a general lethargy with the gaggle of teenage fans daring to express their allegiances to any particular ‘team’, this third film’s more assured blend of action and romance left critics positively reeling with heady excitement. Instantly hailed as the best in the series, it drew in a whole new strand of viewers, even tempting in some husbands and fathers to join in with the supernatural fun. But did the series win any more fans as a result? Not really, as this is the same old Twilight, just with more fight scenes.
For this instalment has a bit more conflict, and that’s not just a reference to Edward and Jacob’s smouldering looks in each other's direction. I said previously that Twilight was about Edward and New Moon about Jacob, so now it’s time for the two to share a little more screen time, as the stories' central triangle finally gets thrashed out. By all rights, this one should shift the focus back into Bella and her wellbeing but, like the two self-interested guys in her life, the film doesn’t seem concerned with what she might want.
Which is probably a good thing when considering what she wants is to give her soul away to her boyfriend in exchange for eternal life. At the end of New Moon, Edward had proposed to Bella in an additional attempt at total ownership. That’s not the obvious reading we’re encouraged to pursue, as Bella sees Edward as the epitome of the perfect boyfriend, protective where he appears controlling and endearingly tortured where he appears irrevocably damaged. If you thought the feminists where being picky about a light-hearted vampire story, this is the chapter where the abusive boyfriend argument gets a little more weight behind it.
For most of the film is dedicated to pitching the overwhelming case against her decision. Both of her parents comment on how unhealthy her relationship with Edward has become, encouraging more time spent with the eternally shirtless Jacob, and gruesome tales of vampires past are recounted for her benefit. I thought that New Moon had a confused perspective on who Bella should end up with, as we had been encouraged to
bond with Jacob for two hours before the film yanked the relationship away, but Eclipse goes one step further in trying to resolve the tension built up by Bella’s indecision.
For she’s effectively said yes to the marriage proposal, attempts more than once to get Edward into bed and insists on ‘tying’ herself to him in ‘every way humanly possible’, but Jacob’s still hanging about like a lost puppy, and she isn’t sending him away. This is all catnip to the target audience of course, but as a film it’s frustrating to watch and frankly quite boring in practice. The love triangle should have been dealt with quickly and quietly in order to save the dignity of everyone involved, but the dragging out of Bella’s choice leaves the central character in tatters.
And there’s a constant pandering to the audience in this one that seems designed for viewing at those Twilight parties you hear so much about. While the other films always faltered from letting too much of the books become unnecessary padding on screen, this time around screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg seems to be treating every strained conversation between the three leads as gospel, and has refused to leave anything out. There’s also a sense of the fandom creeping in with Jacob’s permanently bare chest and the homoeroticism between the two guys. Overbearing music is used to signify when we should be cheering and clapping, making Eclipse somewhat less of a movie when watched alongside the other two.
But, when the three leads aren’t busy pouting at each other, Eclipse is actually rather good. The central premise involves Victoria’s army of newborn vampires, more deadly and powerful than the mature ones we’re used to dealing with, and their attempt on Bella’s life. She’s still a bit angry about the death of her boyfriend in the series’ opening instalment, and the only way to protect the object of their affection is for the vampires and werewolves to team up. With the special effects and visual style of new director David Slade behind the lens, the ensuing fight scenes inject some gravely needed adrenaline into the mix.
The supporting cast, up until now purely defined by their fetching wigs, are also given more to do, with a chance to share their backstories. Rosalie, played by Nikki Reed with an convincing intensity the rest of the young cast could learn from, shares her story of gang-rape and isolated misery in an attempt to deter Bella from joining the fold, and the few scenes she dominates are a cut above the rest of the film. The film also features Anna Kendrick in her first post-Up in the Air film, and her scenes in the normal world are a lovely addition for a largely ignored character.
But this level of interest is short lived as, while trying to survive the impending attack from Victoria and her army, Bella, Edward and Jacob end up sharing a tent together on a thoroughly unconvincing snowy mountaintop. It had to be snowy, see, because Bella is very cold. Unable to cuddle his girlfriend for fear of compromising his sexual repression (or something) it falls to Jacob to step up (“I am hotter than you”). What follows is a thoroughly bizarre conversation between the two boys, during which Bella passively sleeps between them. They admit that they like each other, and discuss who is better for the girl. It’s actually very entertaining, and gets you wondering if Kristen Stewart has been the weak link all along.
Eclipse is a strange film to judge as part of the saga. As a standalone film, it should be all rights be dismissed as throwaway twaddle designed to court sexually fearful pre-teens into the cinemas, but as an instalment in the series, you can’t deny the improvements David Slade has made. Like Twilight and New Moon, nothing really happens here, and the final scenes leave the love triangle still unresolved. The series’ popularity relies on Bella’s indecision (as they don’t want to lose fans of either team), but never is it so frustrating than during the endless conversations of Eclipse. The battle is easily won and barely discussed, so there isn’t as much here for the alternative viewer as people may have insisted at the time.
There’s actually less and less Bella as the films go on, and the camera focuses on the male totty as if it was a newsstand teen magazine looking for the perfect shot. It’s not an attractive message to send across to a vulnerable audience, and the concerns you may have previously had are only magnified here. We’re constantly reminded that Edward is not the right choice, and shown that Jacob is a viable option that most girls would jump at, but we’re left with a similar scenario as twice before. Bella is set to marry her undead love, as she does in Breaking Dawn Part I, and there’s no way I can see of investing in such a toxic romance.
Eclipse may be considered the best in the series, but the same old problems are still present, and most viewers will have grown tired of the endless romantic chitchat. The film is an improvement in many ways, but fails to iron out a lot of the dilemmas Stephanie Meyer’s texts are riddled with.
This article is  from IMDb
on Thu, 11/10/2011 - 16:34