With Eclipse, Twi-Hards Have Met Their Perfect Match
- Wednesday, June 30, 2010
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.
Since Edward lived in a time when women were courted by their suitors, and sex was typically reserved exclusively for marriage, he wants to wait until the wedding night—something that Bella reluctantly agrees to because Edward offers no alternative. And while his reasons for abstaining aren't exactly faith-related, it definitely sets a better example for The Twilight Saga's largely younger demographic than your typical sexed-up teen flicks and sitcoms—a nice surprise in a pop culture phenomenon that's not about to go away any time soon.
Drugs/Alcohol: No social drinking or drug use. Meds are administered to Jacob when he's in a great deal of pain.
Language/Profanity: Very minor profanity—a couple uses of as-, hel- and dam-.
Sex/Nudity: The "some sensuality" refers to some steamy kisses exchanged between Edward and Bella and [SPOILER ALERT] Bella and Jacob. When Bella's dad warns her that she and Edward need to be "safe," Bella is embarrassed and eventually reveals that she's still a virgin. Her dad, of course, is rather pleased with the news and likes Edward a little better as a result. But Bella (once again) is hoping that she and Edward will have sex, something that Edward says won't happen until they are married. His reason for waiting is because in the era he lived in, men courted their women, and sex simply wasn't part of the equation.
Values: A high premium is put on marriage. Not only is sex reserved for marriage, but when Bella asks her dad if he thinks the institution is still valuable, even though he's divorced, he definitely agrees that it is, citing the happiness of Bella's mom in her second marriage.
Violence: This is by far, the most intense—and dark—movie of The Twilight Saga. It's still nowhere in the vicinity of TV's True Blood, but it's definitely more violent than its predecessors. With a clan of newborn vampires on the loose (they are assembled by Victoria to exact revenge on the Cullens because they killed her mate, James, when he was threatening Bella), the death toll has been climbing in the Seattle area, due to the newbie's insatiable need for human blood. We see the human victims getting attacked (a bite is all it takes) and eventually, their "change" into vampires. A couple of extended fight scenes feature the decapitation of vampires (and their eventually burning, the only way they'll truly be dead for good). When Victoria and Edward fight each other, Bella cuts herself to distract Victoria with the scent of her blood. Jane, the most sadistic member of royal vampires the Volturi, plays mind games with a newborn vampire (who was just a young girl before becoming immortal) before having her killed because she was planning to kill the Cullen vampires, per Victoria's directive.
Christa Banister is a full-time freelancer writer, specializing in music, movies and books-related reviews and interviews and is the author of two novels, Around the World in 80 Dates and Blessed Are the Meddlers. Based in St. Paul, Minn., she also weighs in on various aspects of pop culture on her personal blog.
For more information, including her upcoming book signings and sample chapters of her novels, check out her Website.
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