5.2

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse

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<i>The Twilight Saga: Eclipse</i>

Director: David Slade
Cinematographer: Javier Aguirresarobe
Writers: Stephenie Meyer (novel), Melissa Rosenberg (screenplay)
Starring: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner
Studio: Summit

Just a hint of light

Eclipse is the best installment of The Twilight Saga. Now, that doesn’t mean much—it’s not the same as, say, singling out the best Led Zeppelin album. The previous two flicks in the series,Twilight and New Moon, were plagued by melodramatic lines delivered by actors that either over- or under-acted every scene; despite its rabid fans, the series really had nowhere to go but up, even if it was just a little.

Within the first few minutes of Eclipse, it’s clear that Bella (Kristen Stewart) is, once again, in quite a tough spot. Her vampire boyfriend Edward (Robert Pattinson) and werewolf best friend Jacob (Taylor Lautner) playing tug-of-war with her heart, and she has to prepare for the arrival of a vampire army that plans to destroy her and Edward’s family.

Bella, less whiny and brooding than we’d previously glimpsed, finally seems to have her own personality and opinions, to appreciate parts her life outside of Edward and to dare to stand up to him sometimes. This is not to say that the series’ central relationship is suddenly without faults. In an early scene, Edward disconnects some wires in Bella’s truck to keep her from leaving home to visit her friend because he says it’s part of his job to protect her. Anywhere else, this is a sign of an abusive relationship. In the eyes of novelist Stephenie Meyer, however, it’s called True Love.

The “compromises” Bella and Edward make resemble head games and bargains. When we first see the two of them discussing marriage—in a field of wildflowers, after reading a Robert Frost poem out loud, naturally—Bella is adamantly against the practice, proclaiming it nothing more than “a piece of paper.” But midway through the movie, she finds herself in possession of an obscenely large ring.

Maybe she changes her mind because Edward refuses to turn her into a vampire without first becoming man and wife, and she is disturbingly certain that she wants nothing more than to put her soul in jeopardy in order to achieve eternal love. Maybe she changes her mind because when she pleads for Edward to have sex with her, he drops to one knee and, with a pout and his best after-school-special voice, lectures her on the virtues of chaste courting. Or maybe it’s because she’s surrounded by people who are in love with love, who find a reason to exist (and add many unnecessary minutes to the film) by staring into their partners’ eyes.

The screenplay is an impressive adaptation of Meyer’s novel; a handful of self-aware lines poke fun at the series, balancing out the overwhelming outpouring of emotions that even peripheral characters seem compelled to share. But there are too many plot holes and moments of predictability that will surely irk anyone who couldn’t care less whose perfectly sculpted arms Bella runs to in the end.

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