DVD Release Date:  December 4, 2010
Theatrical Release Date:  June 30, 2010
Rating:  PG-13 (for intense sequences of action and violence and some sensuality)
Genre:  Fantasy, Thriller, Romance, Sequel
Run Time:  124 min.
Director:  David Slade
Actors:  Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Billy Burke, Anna Kendrick, Michael Welch, Jackson Rathbone, Ashley Greene, Peter Facinelli, Elizabeth Reaser, Justin Chon, Xavier Samuel, Dakota Fanning, Nikki Reed

Truth be told, if you're not already a fan of the sparkly vampires (and perpetually shirtless werewolves) in the The Twilight Saga, Eclipse isn't probably going to win any new converts. After all, much like the Harry Potter franchise, it's best to be invested from the beginning.

And similarities with the Potter phenomenon don't end there, as the Twilight universe has also managed to divide Christian moviegoers:  those who take issue with storylines involving vampires and werewolves and the depiction of obsessive, romantic teen relationships and its influence in the minds of female fans (teens and adults) and then those who see the films as nothing more than purely escapist entertainment and choose to watch the films in context, leaving the mystique at the theater door upon departure. 

For the latter, and for those who've definitely chosen a side (Team Edward or Team Jacob) and have endured the teenage trials of the oh-so-moody Bella (Kristen Stewart), Eclipse will be nothing short of true cinematic bliss.

If my screening audience, which included many, many adoring women of all ages (and a few very patient significant others), was any indication, it's downright easy to get swept up in all the drama and romance. In fact, Eclipse was quite the interactive viewing experience.

Case in point: When Edward (Robert Pattinson) gets down on one knee and proposes to Bella in old-school Humphrey Bogart fashion, they clapped. Loudly. And when Jacob (Taylor Lautner) first strutted on screen without his shirt, they cheered. Loudly. And when...

Well, you get the idea. As far as the Twi-hards are concerned, Eclipse is the veritable masterpiece they've been waiting for all summer.

From a purely technical perspective, Eclipse does give its devoted fanbase plenty to cheer about. Not only is the production value far more sweeping and upscale, but the CGI (especially on the wolves, which looked far too cartoonish in New Moon) has drastically improved, which makes it feel more like a blockbuster than your requisite Lifetime made-for-TV movie.

As far as the storytelling goes, there's also far more at stake. Yes, we're still reminded umpteen times about the dangers involved with Bella's dream of becoming a vampire just like her beloved Edward. But unlike Twilight and New Moon, the screenwriters actually flesh that out by showing the intriguing mortal-to-immortal journeys of two of Edward's adopted siblings, Rosalie (Nikki Reed) and Jasper (Jackson Rathbone). That, along with light humor and well-paced action scenes, not only complement the film's moody aesthetic, but keep the story steadily moving forward.

Naturally, it wouldn't be a Twilight movie if they didn't keep that familiar love triangle going between Bella, her dashing undead amour Edward and hunky Jacob, her pal that she may—or may not—have romantic feelings for. Forced to put their bitter rivalry aside temporarily to protect Bella from the evil Victoria (now played by Bryce Dallas Howard who lacks the screen presence and gravitas of Rachelle Lefevre) and her clan of thirsty newborn vampires, Edward and Jacob will do anything to win her heart—even if we're still not quite sure why.

But even a quasi-boring protagonist like Bella deserves love, and just like its predecessors, Eclipse is certainly heavy on the melodrama in the ol' romance department. And with every lovingly choreographed scene with Bella and Edward talking and kissing in a picture-perfect field of wildflowers, it effectively plays on every woman's romantic fantasies. Yet in the midst of all the shameless wish fulfillment, it's nice to see some old-fashioned values getting some major play.

Wanting to take their relationship to the next level physically, Bella is more than willing to give herself completely to Edward. But just as things start to heat up, Edward always stops well before things can get seriously out of control, and this time around, he gets more into the "why" of the matter.