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The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (David Slade, 2010)

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, the third and least impressive entry in the romantic vampire franchise to date, finds young lovers Bella and Edward in a holding pattern. This series, which is only based on four novels, seems to be killing time this time out, with very little plot advancement taking place over the course of Eclipse’s two hours. The script asks Bella, the heroine played by Kristen Stewart, to make a choice between her vampire and werewolf suitors, but it does little more than that. From the first film onward, it has been entirely inexplicable why this young woman would attract the undying love of these two men, yet the series takes the fact for granted. The characters fawn over one another, but never give us a reason to love them. Of course the Twilight movies are romantic fantasies, but they seem particularly undernourished ones, with too little realistic behavior underlying the dream. Eclipse, even more than the other two films to date, has few scenes in which the characters have to deal with the pressures of their parents or school, making the flights of fancy feel even more untethered this time out. This imbalance is the movie’s downfall.


There is a marginal revenge plot in Eclipse that gives director David Slade something to cut away to throughout the extended reintroduction to the cast that takes up the first two-thirds of the film, but it’s true that the heart of the film lies with Bella’s decision. Unlike Catherine Hardwicke, who helped the audience to feel Bella’s sexual appetite by grounding her film’s action in the lush Washington state forests, though, Slade seems incapable of translating his romance into visual terms. The film falls flat as a result, turning Bella's pregnant indecision into interminable stasis.


Kristen Stewart, who has been the series' saving grace, is hamstrung by her material, unable to turn a padded-out non-conflict into anything more. One well-acted moment, in which Bella awkwardly reassures her father of her continued status as a virgin, reminds audiences both of Stewart’s usual charisma and its lack here. Eclipse is an unfortunate entry in a franchise that, while certainly flawed, had at least built some dramatic momentum over the course of its first two installments. Whether this will stand as the low-point in the series or an indication that the novels that these films are based upon never had anything worth saying remains to be seen.  




Jeremy Heilman