Posted on 7/07/10 04:25 PM
(Note: I wrote this after I got back from the midnight showing on Tuesday night.)
I just got back from watching Twilight: Eclipse.
I'm still not entirely sure I survived the experience.
Twilight: Eclipse, for those of you who don't know enough about it to insist "It's the Twilight SAAAAGGGGAAAA!!!" is the third interminable movie in the interminable movie franchise based on the interminable books. The overall story arc is about a human girl named Bella Swan who has the world's strongest obsession -ever- over the always dour Edward Cullen, a 100 year old vampire-and virgin-whose romantic passion for Bella is stronger than his urge to pull her head back and slurp on her blood. Or so he says. Because after three movies, I'm really still not fucking convinced.
Okay, okay, I'm being harsh. Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, and Kristen Stewart manage to do a passable job this time around in the acting department, although I will die of shock if any one of them wins an oscar in the next thirty years and deserves it. They still aren't the best actors in the movie, but with the way these films are written they inevitably get at least 85 percent of the available screen time.
Speaking of screen time, the plot noticeably straining to fill it this time around is about an army of "newborn" vamps forming in Seattle, in a chain reaction that in a sense mirrors the one at the end of Daybreakers. This army is being directed behind the scenes by that redhead from the first film who ran off, Victoria. She's pissed that Ed (which is how exactly zero people refer to him, ever, in the book series-how is that possible?) had the gall to kill her insane bloodlusting boyfriend James when he was about to kill Ed's love of his life. So naturally she wants revenge.
Unfortunately, I can't say that the irrationality ends there. Ed and Bella both SAY they want to get down and dirty in the sack, but they don't. Why? Because a Mormon wrote the books. Oh, you meant in the context of the film. Well, since Ed is from the Victorian era, he's pretty damn traditional. And Bella? Well, try being a girl and raping a vampire who could knock your head off your shoulders by flicking it. It's simply a physical impossibility, which is honestly all that stops that little minx from jumping his bones in the first book. Not that you can really tell. Remember how their acting is passable? Well, that doesn't really apply to the "love" scenes. As good as I'm sure both actors could be, Rob and Kristen just don't. Have. Any. Chemistry. To be fair, Taylor doesn't have any chemistry with Kristen either, but at least the excuse is that Jacob is pretty much a borderline rapist, and his actions lead to a right hook from Bella at one fairly amusing point in the movie. Not that the right hook hurts him at all. Which only made it more amusing.
As for the other actors, they do a decent job, but they are all woefully underused. Top picks go to Alice, Jasper and Carlisle. Each one of them still had likeable characters despite the scripting flaws which sought to undermine them. Out of the three Jasper gets arguably the most screen time and importance, as he's actually given a backstory which makes him more interesting than he was before. Carlisle is still the broker of peace and maturity amongst all the characters. And Alice? Still kind, still without a doubt the best looking female in the entire movie. She can see the future, which rocks. But her character also suffers the most from the script, which refuses to give her the sense of humor and fun she had in the first two movies.
However, this whole review can't be just about the acting. There's not much to say about the direction, except that it's vastly improved over the first film thanks to David Slade. Instead of an amateur effort like the first Twilight seemed to be, thanks to Slade Eclipse actually feels like a cinematic experience at times, as much as he's limited by his source material. The actors also seem to be having a better time on camera despite the depressing (and depressingly bad) script, which can probably also be attributed to Slade.
The same can not be said for the script itself, however. Melissa Rosenberg stays pretty close to how the books go, which makes the writing flawed from the start, but it gets worse when there's no effort to improve on the source material. Ed and Bella repeatedly have almost the exact same conversation. "Turn me into a vampire." "No. Marry me." "Sure, if you'll turn me into a vampire." "You don't want to be a vampire, it'll damn your soul." "I don't care about my soul, dammit! I wanna suck some blood and live with you forever!" Speaking of repetition, Jacob's dialogue is almost all about how he loves Bella and he's better for her than Ed, and Bella's dad Charlie only talks about how Ed better not do any harm to her. They're all like villagers in a Gameboy role playing game who say the same three lines of dialogue whenever you select them. Sure, sometimes they're useful for exposition, but it mostly just serves to flatten their characters.
Oh, but there's action, right? Heh. Heh heh. That "epic super battle" in the trailer with "an army of vampires?" There's about 50 bad vamps who do a bad impression of the Pirates of the Caribbean before walking right into an ambush. No, I'm not kidding. This "army" would barely comprise a company in real military terms. And that epic battle? It lasts about five minutes, tops. At least on screen. Including probable off screen extrapolation, with a little bit of generosity on the estimating side, the bad vamps held out for maybe 20 minutes before being totally crushed. After all the fuss made throughout the books and movies about how hard it is to kill a vampire, it's revealed that a fist to the face blows their head apart like a Christmas tree ball. Granted, it's a vampire fist, but a fist nonetheless. And "burning them, just to be sure?" As easy as lighting a Zippo and dropping it on them.
And even at the one moment when the script decides to be ballsy, it's also the one time you wish it wasn't, because it turns into an over the top "kick the puppy" moment to establish that the Volturi, the "vamp government," as it were, are bad, bad people.
Final thoughts: Despite a few fun moments, slightly improved acting, and vastly improved direction, Eclipse still fails to rise above the crushing weight of its source material. Weak scripting and awkward, drawn out romantic scenes ruin whatever fun is to be had watching the film.
But I still love you, Ashley Greene. Call me.