Ah yes…it’s that time again. The vampire film series of your dreams has returned for another jaunty tale of love lost and found with Jacob, the smarmy, buff teen Werewolf with the tragic shirt allergy, Edward, the 100 year old Vampire gap model with impenetrable hair and in the center of it all, little Bella, the teen waif cursed by gypsies, never to make a facial expression again. In this installment, our monster triangle interrupts their incessant moans of unrequited amour with the occasional panic brought on by an army of newborn vampires inexplicably heading for the sleepy town of Forks. At times it is a real worry, but more often then not, it takes a back seat to the love story. It’s good to have priorities.
Now, it is time for old foes to join forces to protect a loved one and the town they call home. Fuzzy, giant Werewolves and sparkly, rich vampires..UNITED FOR THE COMMON GOOD!! That is the entire plot in a nutshell, with the dreaded Volturi clan keeping themselves within peripheral vision, constantly reinforcing the notion that this back water brawl is a very small skirmish in the scheme of things and should it get out of hand, they will swoop in and clear the field like avenging angels..but only at their pleasure.
In a great many ways, Director David Slade makes his presence felt by creating a bond between the ethereal Cullen family and the audience watching that was never bothered with before. We’d been resigned to pick our favorite vamp based on who made the funniest facial expressions. Mine was Jasper, who spent the first film wearing a grimace that resembled indigestion. Heeesterical. Now, we get personal moments with nearly everyone in the family, learning where they came from to understand who they are now. For the rest, we, at the very least, get to watch a sort of spotlight moment offering further glimpses into the vamp’s personality. I found these moments made the family more endearing and from that, created a movie experience that was downright tolerable! Even Bella manages to be somewhat more likeable, which I chalk up to the absence of the quaking, stammering and screaming of movies past and a more mature acting performance today. She even manages to nearly smile! Very nearly.
On the flip side, that scrappy band of shirtless wolf boys are made more human through a lengthy flashback, revealing the history of the tribe (and pack) and when their blood feud with “The Cold Ones” began. It’s even revealed that fucking PETER MURPHY started it all!!! Figures. Blame it on Bauhaus. All of this back story and stolen moments with both wolf peoples and vampire fashionistas helps to distance us from the prime story, which is, as ever, the love triangle we’ve already had a full movie about. It is a very welcome break, though there is one profound difference. In the past, we’d gotten to see Bella with Edward…and Bella with Jacob…but not Bella with both parties vying for her attention simultaneously. With this new angle, we realize that Jacob’s approach is that of an immature and impulsive boy…which is closer to Bella’s nature than she’d like to admit. Edward is around 108 years old, so while he is in no hurry to make Bella his one and only, he knows his emotions are real. Even still, he has no wish for Bella to share his immortal curse…and that is something she continually asks for..well…that and sex. Jacob sees their rivalry as a sort of sport and doesn’t hide his grin when he believes he has the upper hand. Edward has to put his trust in Bella and hope he comes out of the whole deal without a broken heart. ~cries~ It’s sappy and juvenile, but not entirely unwatchable.
Eclipse marks the first time Summit has done something new with the Twilight series trailer…and that is create a premise which made us think we might actually enjoy this movie! If you are looking forward to an epic battle of giant wolves and seasoned vampires clashing with wild, unimaginably strong, newborn vampires, then you’ll be able to enjoy that scene…for about 10 minutes. The action is fairly cool..and bloodless..and fleeting. There are nearly 3 action scenes in the film with those interesting character development scenes peppered throughout and an outsider’s view of the plot’s gears turning with tabs on the Volturi, the newborn vamps and Victoria, who is still running her ass off through Forks (just how big is that frikken forest??!!) The least interesting item remaining is the Jacob-Bella-Edward love triangle, but we understand this is a romance film for giggling teen girls, so we thank you for upping the action and allowing us to not beg for death as we watch.
A quick note on FX, which is substantial in Eclipse. The wolves look a little more bad ass in this film, with further views of their scale as they stand quietly next to the Cullens and tiny lil Bella. VERY nice work and extremely believable. There is also a pile of CGI used in the battle in the film’s finale, as the way that vampires die in Twilight is nothing like you’ve seen in most vampire movies. I don’t want to ruin the surprise for those who don’t read the books, but the effect is dramatic, complete with a distinct sound that will alert you every time a renegade vamp is dismembered, beheaded or otherwise bites the big one (pun intended.) Bella remains the only character to shed a drop of blood in this film.
I’ve sat through 3 Twilight films now and Eclipse marks the first time I didn’t think of ending my life amid the semi-romantic mumbling of Edward and Bella. A fairly decent vampire chase, a vamp training session, plenty of looks at a pack of giant werewolves and a major step back on the emo levels of the wolf-vamp-human love story makes the latest Twilight film downright watchable..or tolerable..or lacking in elements that made me want to smite my own eyes for staring into the mouth of madness and not switching off in hysterical blindness (see previous Twilight film review). My friend described it well in saying “It’s like getting the same kick to the balls, but this time, the shoe worn with the delivery is a lot more forgiving.” The writing is still very weak and the plot is thinner than the hottest of Hollywood bulimics, but if you are forced to go, at least you won’t pray for death.
Just remember...before the Twilight films...before the legendary rivalry between Edward and Jacob...there was the original Jake VS Edward battle!!