After all of the hype leading up to the second “Twilight” movie “New Moon” and my utter disappointment in the transition from book to movie, I was in no hurry to see the latest release of Stephenie Meyer’s “Twilight" Saga.
Despite all efforts to avoid the film, I found myself at the Starplex Cinema 6 Sunday afternoon in line with a ticket in hand to see “Eclipse.” (This time, thankfully, it was a short wait with mostly adults inside the air- conditioned movie house; and we waited only because we got to the theater early.) Thankfully, it was better than the second movie, “New Moon,” but then it couldn’t help but be better, in my opinion.
“Eclipse” did not live up to its hype.
Some of the minor characters’ backgrounds were brought up, but both Jasper’s and Rosalie’s stories were cut short. I still didn’t get a feel for the relationship between Bella and the Cullens, a big foundation for the book series. You got virtually no Esme in this one, and while Carlisle had a few speaking parts, he’s still a fairly flat character. Alice is just a side-note, as is Emmett. By this time, you’re supposed to see the strong bond between Bella’s best gal pal/sister-at-heart and her “adopted” bear of a big brother.
Charlie was also bit flat in this one, not utilizing Billy Burke’s dry wit, a liberty the screenwriter took advantage of in the first two movies to develop Bella’s father into a real character that’s quite likable.
As for the three central characters in this story, I think Kristen Stewart did a better job in “Eclipse” than in “New Moon” as did Robert Pattinson.
But, then, after Stewart’s portrayal of a girl screaming out from night terrors that came off more like a 3-year-old pitching a fit and Pattinson’s flat delivery of his few lines in “New Moon,” they couldn’t help but be better. I still am not sold on Pattinson’s performance as Edward, although he did in some places seem to be the century-old vampire besotted by a mostly unremarkable awkward girl.
I didn’t think Taylor Lautner put as much into this one as in “New Moon.” But, then, he didn’t have to work as hard bulking up for “Eclipse” as he did for “New Moon,” which has been dubbed “Jacob’s story,” so maybe he didn’t feel the need to go the distance for the next movie.
I did not feel the turmoil between the three central characters – Bella and the two men in her life. Nor did I feel what should have been an extreme tension between Jacob and Edward, who each hope to earn Bella as his own. Bella was supposed to be torn over having to let go of her best boy bud in favor of her bloodsucking boyfriend, and of hurting both in as she fluctuated back and forth in her feelings for each. Even when Bella admits to loving Jacob and asks him to kiss her to prevent him from loping off to join the fight, the angst just really doesn't translate well on film.
The fight scene, the crux of the story, was OK at best, even though I understand there was only so much that could be shown and still keep the PG13 rating. I just didn’t feel the movie gave the proper build up for the fight and the significance of it. I didn’t feel that nail-biting, edge of the seat suspense I expected.
Granted the “wolf pack” was more in line with what Meyer described, but I still had moments in which I had to go “Really? You expect me to believe these depictions are bear-sized shape shifting dog people?" The movie glosses over Leah, who is a freak in her own right, a member of the pack despite the tribal legend that only male descendants of the top protectors become wolves. Also, the tribal leaders’ telling of the tribes’ stories during the bonfire at the reservation was too brief, leaving out the explanation that, surprise they’re not really werwolves but descended from spirit warriors who choose to shift into wolf form. (Or maybe I just missed that when someone down front failed to silence their crying child, who was several years shy of the PG13 rating, for a short period of time.)
Much to my surprise, I did like Bryce Dallas Howard as Victoria. For the brief time she was pictured I bought that she was a vampire out to avenge her dead partner, James, by means of a “new vampire” army.
Overall, while “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse” stuck relatively close to the book I thought it was poorly written, rushed. I know that some things just don’t translate well from book to movie, especially given budget, time constraints and the actors’ strengths and weaknesses. However, this involved a lot of dialogue that, for me, just fell flat.
If I had to give this a grade, I’d give it a B- at best.
But, don't take my word for it. Devoted fans of the saga should go see "Eclipse" and decide for themselves. It's currrently showing at Starplex Cinemas daily through Thursday on two screens at 12:30 p.m., 1:30 p.m., 3 p.m., 4 p.m., 5:30 p.m., 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m., and on one screen daily starting Friday at 1 p.m., 4 p.m., 6:50 p.m. and 9:20 p.m.
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