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THE TWILIGHT SAGA: ECLIPSE

Review by Mark Wiechman

Stars: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner
Director: David Slade
Audio: Dolby 5.1
Video: Color Widescreen 2.40:1
Studio: Summit Entertainment
Features: See Review
Length: 124 Minutes
Release Date:  December 4, 2010

 

Emmett Cullen: “Trying to walk and chew gum at the same time again, Bella?”
Bella Swan: “I punched a werewolf in the face.”
Emmett Cullen: "Badass. You're going to be one tough little newborn.”

 

Film **1/2

 

Many viewers feel this is the best Twilight film yet, and for the most part I agree.  Stewart and Pattinson continue to have great chemistry, even better this time around, making the best of the wooden dialogue that sometimes makes Star Wars: The Phantom Menace sound like Shakespeare.  Their portion of the story has a great buildup, middle, and conclusion to finish the film and confirm that this is not really a vampire story as such, but a love story involving a vampire.  And it might be the only modern love story in which the couple stays celibate, by choice of the male, surprisingly. 

 

Of course Bella continues to struggle with her feelings for Jacob, who makes a fairly convincing argument that by choosing Edward, she is choosing death over life.  One of the highlights of the film is when Edward asks whether Jake even owns a shirt, since he walks around shirtless in the damp Northeastern woods for almost the whole film.  Later, when Bella is freezing, Jacob offers to lay next to her to keep her warm, and he looks up at Edward and proclaims that he is indeed the hotter of the two men!  Since even the coldest dramas have their lighter moments, these wisecracks make the whole story more believable. 

 

A huge battle is looming between the Cullen family and a new group of vampires created solely to destroy them.  These new vampires are ravenously hungry, as are all newbies apparently, and the Cullens know that they cannot win without help, so they enlist the help of the wolves.  They also have to wonder if the Volturi will intervene at all. 

 

While Pattinson seems more relaxed and yet passionate at the same time as Edward, and Kristen Bell also seems more at ease than in the second installment, I think the film is weakened greatly by some recasting.  Bryce Dallas Howard is the new Victoria, the grand villainess this time around, but she is not enchanting as Rachelle LeFevre was in the role.  Dakota Fanning is not even remotely believable as Jane, the leader of the Volturi.  Maybe they were aiming for a character who seems innocent but is truly evil, but to me she was neither, phoning in her dialogue and never changing facial expression. 

 

On the other hand, Jasper (Jackson Rathbone) is given a much bigger role.  He trains the Cullens to fight the new vampires, since he previously trained such an army himself after being turned while serving in Texas for the Confederacy.  Like many vampire stories, they have roots in the Civil War, America’s bloodiest era, but we do not learn much about their war experiences themselves.  

 

Video  ***1/2

Remarkably clear throughout, considering so many scenes are shot in the dark woods of Washington State (or at least a place that looks like it) plus the seemingly endless campfires and eerie dark encounters.  I did not see a single artifact or other out of place smear or inconsistency in the CGI portions of scenes.  Other than being so large, the wolves are truly amazing.

Audio ***1/2

Good use of the rear channels for weather and other sound effects, dialogue mostly clear and mixed well with music.  Now and then I wish Kristen would speak up a bit, but mumbling is part of the teen ouvre, is it not?

 

Features **1/2

 

Disc One of this two-disc set contains commentaries with Robin Patterson with Kristen Stewart and another one with author Stephanie Meyer with Wyck Godfrey. 

 

“Introducing David Slade” allows us to get to know the new director to the series.  Having a different director for each film is apparently intentional on the part of the producers.  He discusses how his career moved from journalism to filmmaking, including four videos for Muse.  The other five “Making of” documentaries show mostly pedestrian behind the scenes work. 

 

The extended and deleted scenes do not contain anything important, just extra dialogue, thus justifying their editing. 

 

Two music videos are included:  Neutron Star Collision by Muse, which lit up music television for months when the film was first released.  Good tune but awfully pop for Muse.  “All Yours” is a similar hybrid of emo and pop.  Both tunes are nice but pretty forgettable to my 42 year old ears. 

 

The package mentions a “Edward Fast Forward” and a similar feature for Jacob so that you don’t have to waste time on the movie or the story, and have more time to drool over your favorite actor.  But honestly I cannot figure out how to activate these features.  Oh well. 

 

Summary:

 

Not quite up to my expectations but well worth a view.  Twilight: Eclipse will entertain most audiences who want some romance with their action.  However, I challenge the producers and actors to continue to raise the bar as most series have to do to keep their audience.

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