The Twilight Saga: Eclipse
Director: David Slade
Stars: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson
The third film in the Twilight series — out of an eventual five — is the best to date, but that’s faint praise considering the previous two instalments, Twilight and New Moon.
The main cast’s continued work in their now-iconic characters, as well as new director David Slade’s camera work, make Eclipse a marked improvement, but the film is stunted by its source material. The lesson here appears to be that practise sometimes makes mediocre.
It’s not really Slade’s fault. He does his best, adding actual action sequences with brutal beheadings — though no blood, since these vampires are PG-13. With the threat of a growing army of newborn vampires (which are more vicious, we’re told) amassing to threaten the life of mopey protagonist Bella (Kristen Stewart), the other two corners of her love triangle, vampire Edward (Robert Pattinson) and wolf-boy Jacob (Taylor Lautner), have to try to get along and convince their respective communities to work together. All the while, Bella and Edward debate the life decision she made at the end of the last film — to become a vampire — in what’s basically the exact opposite of dramatic tension.
There are a few bright spots, including some all-too-brief diversions into the backstories of a pair of Cullen vampires, Rosalie (Nikki Reed) and Jasper (Jackson Rathbone). The vignettes are stirring and sweeping and suggest much better films to watch. And they go by far too quickly.
Also worth noting: It’s becoming clear that Stewart has quietly been doing some impressive work as Bella. While some might write off her performance as half-asleep, she’s actually showing remarkable restraint, holding back to avoid the dialogue’s overwrought romance-novel nature. If only Taylor Lautner had such skill.