Why bother reviewing The Twilight Saga: Eclipse? Those who wish to see it certainly will do so over and over again, and neither I nor their parents nor a phalanx of tanks and flamethrowers can stop them. And those people who do not wish to see the film? Nothing I could say would make them give it a shot.
Had Eclipse been good, I suppose I could have said something like "David Slade, who wowed us half a decade ago with Hard Candy, has again mined the ids of 14-year-old girls and offered us a dark vision of death and sex," but indeed, Slade knows that he isn't making a movie here. Eclipse defies criticism because it isn't really a film—it's just a shared dream for fans of the novel series.
Or as one of the fans behind me at tonight's screening said as we waited to retrieve our impounded cell phones (studio's orders!), "I liked this one. Jasper had a bunch of lines this time."
And that is what Eclipse is all about. We all know about Team Edward and those rebel holdouts of an army long since surrendered—Team Jacob. But there is also Team Emmett and Team Seth, supporters of the li'lest werewolf, played by the improbably named BooBoo Stewart (intercaps and all!).
Fans, mostly women, want nothing more than a visual aid for the books they love to reread, and Slade, freed from the rigors of sense-making by a script clearly written on 50 index cards shuffled at random, gives it to them. While the first Twilight film was well directed and the second had a story and intrigue and a trip to Italy, this one has nothing.
Redhead baddie Victoria is in Seattle, raising an army of newborn vampires for obscure reasons. (Let's say "revenge.") In Stephenie Meyer's bestiary, the newborns are actually the strongest of the vampires, as they are still full of human blood. "No human army can stand against" a gang of newborns, Jasper says (he has a bunch of lines in this one!), but an unlikely alliance between Teams Edward and Jacob can.
And then there's Bella. Kristen Stewart is a little more low-key in this picture—she's stopped licking her lips and twitching constantly, anyway. Poor thing probably couldn't take all the YouTube montages and impressions. As the only single female in the world, shiny, sparkly Edward and shirtless, abtastic Jacob sneer at one another to better impress her. She kisses 'em both, to the cheers of the crowd.
Bella is frequently being handed off by one of the boys to the other for her "protection," but it's hard to understand what the hell is going on. She's at school, then home, then it's daytime again and she's on a bike and now it's the school parking lot but they never went inside and she visits the Indian reservation twice but why didn't they just tell her everything the first time and and and ... Slade could have put the footage in random order, and for all I could tell, he did.
Indeed, Victoria, who is supposedly secretly in Seattle converting entire Pearl Jam concerts worth of grungy kids into vampires, inexplicably shows up in Forks in the first act just to run through the woods with both vampires and werewolves on her tail. There has to be an easier way to kill one high school girl than all this. Poison all the size-three hoodies at the mall, maybe?
After an hour of such tedious business, we get to the meat of the movie. Bella is put in a tent in the middle of a snowstorm, as this is the safest place for her. (Safer than Florida, where she spent a weekend for no reason in the first act. Had she stayed on for a few more days to take in Disney, there wouldn't have been a movie at all.) Poor dead Edward can't keep her warm, but shirtless Jacob shows up, tells Edward, "I'm hotter than you," then snuggles on up to the girl he loves. Oh yeeeeeah. Anyway, nobody has sex, and the only nipples we see belong to the werewolves.
Then there's a big vampire/werewolf fight in a clearing in the woods. A clearing in the woods, Edward's house, Bella's, a tent, two scenes in the school, and a parking lot in Seattle. That's the whole movie. And this is a saga? But lo, the clearing shall run glittery with shattered vampires, with the now-typical Batman Begins-style whooshwhoosh camera moves ruining wuxia choreography. As it turns out, newborns are as stupid as they are strong, so the more ridiculous one's stunt kick or triple-ricochet punch, the more likely it is to land. Also, vampires are made out of rock candy. So is Bella's wedding ring!
If you think there's not much to the movie, you're right. There's time for Jasper to have some lines—he tells Bella his secret origin story as a Confederate soldier from Texas who saved some innocent women and children only to fall into the grip of his vampire mama, Maria. Vampire Rosalie shares her unlife story too—she was gang-raped and left for dead by her boyfriend and his pals, thanks to the Demon Rum. (P.S.: Stephenie Meyer is a conservative Mormon of some sort.) There are lots of close-ups of Edward's smoldering eyes, and actor Robert Pattinson does his usual "sexy" look. You know, the one he practices by leaving a container of orange juice on his car dashboard for a month and then taking a whiff while checking himself out in the rear-view mirror. Taylor Lautner does his sexy look, too—he stands around without a shirt and squints his eyes at someone off-camera. Maybe it's Bella, but you know, with the right frame of mind, you could decide that he's really looking at Edward.
Sadly, the very popularity of the Twilight novels and the audience demand for slavish fidelity keep the filmmakers from pursuing a real love triangle (you know, a threesome) or doing anything of interest at all. You want a good Twilight movie? Keep dreamin'.