Directed by: David Slade (30 Days of Night)
Starring: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Bryce Dallas Howard, Billy Burke, Dakota Fanning
Much as I dislike the whole Twilight series, the concept and mindless adulation, I simply don’t have it in me to actually hate a movie in which the heroine tells a werewolf boy, “Stay!” Granted, I’d have liked it better if she had then commanded him to roll over or play dead, but you can’t have everything. This by no means indicates I’m recommending The Twilight Saga: Eclipse—far, far from it. It only means I found this entry less painful than the first two. For a change, this one seems to know it’s cheesy, campy rubbish.
I’m putting a lot of the less awfulness down to director David Slade, whose 30 Days of Night (2007) got fairly high marks in some quarters (not mine). He seems to be about right for the material. Chris Weitz was too good and Catherine Hardwicke was too inept, so Slade comes across like Baby Bear’s porridge here. He’s still at the mercy of perhaps the worst material in the history of vampire fiction, but he seems to know it. In the land of Twilight, self-awareness is a plus. It still makes for a bad movie, but I got more laughs—some of which may have even been intended—out of it than its predecessors.
There’s no more story than before. It’s still mostly about zomboid Bella (Kristen Stewart) trying to get pasty vampire Edward to seal the deal by putting the bite on her, while fighting off her feelings for werewolf-boy Jacob and his large and sinewy muscles. It more and more feels like a really perverse “abstinence only” tract dressed up as a typically uninteresting teen love triangle about a girl essentially making a choice between necrophilia and bestiality. Decisions, decisions. The action is slightly ramped up this round, but it’s nothing special in its bloodless violence and a lot of it makes little sense. What good is all this vampire superhuman strength if the depicted vampires are so fragile that major body parts—like heads, for instance—can be snapped off like breaking a candy cane?
If it matters, the plot—apart from three boring characters looking soulfully at each other and saying vapid things—is all about bad girl vampire Victoria (who has somehow transformed from Rachelle Lafevre into Bryce Dallas Howard this round) creating a vampire army (that always looks like it’s about to break into a number from West Side Story) to get her revenge on Bella and the Cullen clan for offing her bad boy vampire boyfriend in the first movie. That’s it, except for a cameo appearance by representatives from the Volturi of vampire central headquarters (presumably to remind us that Dakota Fanning is in the series).
At least the leisurely pace of the movie allows the non-fanbase audience to wonder about things like why the werewolves are the size of Oldsmobiles and why Edward is smitten with boring Bella. There’s perhaps some excuse on the part of werewolf-boy Jacob, since he’s 17 or 18 and clearly a couple phases shy of a full moon anyway (though he still seems to want to spend most of his time hanging out with his shirtless buddies in the woods). But Edward is 108 or 109 years old. You’d think he might’ve picked up some degree of intellect, maturity or sophistication in all that time (and, no, reminding us that he listens to Debussy doesn’t cut it). Oh well, it was almost worth it just to hear the girls in the audience break into applause when Jacob announced that he’s hotter than Edward. Almost. I’m just waiting for the entry where Edward gives Bella a C-section with his teeth, which I am told will indeed happen. It’s nice to have something to look forward to. Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of action and violence, and some sensuality.