I hesitate to state that The Twilight Saga: Eclipse is the movie that New Moon should have been, but then I realize that this is exactly the case. If this hadn’t been an adaptation of the novel of the same name, I would have guessed that this would be a mulligan film. They rehash a very familiar storyline — one where Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) has to, once again, choose between the vampire or the werewolf — but this time, they do it properly.
Well, maybe not “properly”, but far better than what happened last time. Eclipse has almost everything that New Moon had, in terms of plot, but tells it in a far more intriguing way. My biggest problem with New Moon was that it was too boring and ran too long. Eclipse still runs for too long of a time, but at least whatever is happening on-screen is entertaining. Or at least, it’s not incredibly boring, which was the case last time around.
The main reason for this might be that there is an actual threat to the characters. Victoria (Bryce Dallas Howard replaces Rachelle Lefevre in the role) was supposed to be a threat before, but appeared once or twice, never causing much trouble. This time, she’s raising a vampire army in Seattle. “Newborns”, they are called, and they are stronger than veteran vampires, apparently because they still have traces of human blood in them.
This forthcoming threat is what the first hour and forty-five minutes leads up to. There will be a battle, that much is for certain. The people taking place in the battle is what most of the film centers upon. And of course, how will woo Miss Bella Swan. Will it be Edward (Robert Pattinson), the vampire, or Jacob (Tayler Lautner), the werewolf? Maybe she loves them both? We take almost another entire film to find out. Yes, it was supposed to be resolved last time around, but like I said in the opening, Eclipse feels like a mulligan, taking a better shot at telling a similar story. I’m okay with this.
Apart from the impending doom, Edward and Jacob still don’t trust each other. At least, not right away. They tolerate each other, as they both want to protect Bella, but they are not pals. Awkward moments ensue because of this. Well, they feel awkward for the audience, but not for the characters in the film. Characters stare at each other regardless as to what is happening plot-wise, and during these “awkward” moments, they just continue to stare after muttering some dialogue that isn’t important. There are some funny moments though, like when Edward questions whether or not Jacob even owns a shirt.
Thankfully though, Eclipse actually has things going on. There is drama between the characters, and this keeps the plot interesting. New Moon‘s plot could be summed up in a few sentences, despite taking more than two hours to show on-screen. Eclipse‘s plot is slightly more complex, even if it is trotting on old ground, and also doesn’t take as long to tell. Director David Slade even gets to re-live some scenes from 30 Days of Night where he attempts to establish a horror setting. It’s done to mixed results, but at least he’s trying to add something new and exciting to the series.
When the big battle scene actually is about to get underway, I actually found my heart racing a little bit. This is an odd experience for a Twilight film, I thought, but it was a good one. The actual battle, I’m sorry to say, was less enjoyable. It’s not that action-packed, and it felt like less of a battle and more of a “let’s have a bunch of people flail around for a couple of minutes”. That’s too bad, because there could have been a good climax, other than just a mediocre one.
Unfortunately, the special effects team didn’t take the year in-between films to improve the look of the giant wolves that Jacob and his team transforms into. They still just look like fake wolves, not appearing life-like in the least. One thing that Slade must have noticed was how poor it looked to have humans transform into them, so all transformations are done off-screen, instead of in full view of the audience. This helps reduce the impact of the CGI’d creatures, but doesn’t eliminate it completely.
While the acting performances still aren’t great, they weren’t as noticeably terrible in Eclipse. It seems like the actors are at least comfortable enough with their characters that they don’t have to think too hard about how to act while playing them. This is good, because it means we don’t have to witness them struggling with the material they’re given, and it also means that when their characters are supposed to be emotional, they will have some emotion. Chemistry still seemed to be a problem, with neither Edward nor Jacob actually seeming like they cared for, or interacted well with, Bella.
For what it’s worth, I actually enjoyed Eclipse, more than the other two Twilight films, at least. Mostly because it told the story New Moon tried to tell in a somewhat compelling and interesting way, but also because there was some actual drama and tension throughout. While it still felt a little bit too long, I wasn’t bored often during it, and that’s saying something. For me, it’s the first real enjoyable Twilight film so far, actually having some fun moments.