There's just no escaping the phenomenon that is Twilight these days. Eclipse, part three of the series was released in the cinema just last week here in the UK and having reviewed the first two films I was honour-bound to go see part three. Thankfully, I got to see it before the schools broke up for their summer holidays so there were very few people in the cinema. The mere thought of watching a Twilight movie in a cinema packed with teenage girls fills me with dread. Shudder!
THE PLOT. At the end of New Moon, vampire Edward Cullen asked Bella Swan to marry him. Eclipse begins with teenager Bella's response. She still wants Edward to turn her into a vampire so that they can be together for all eternity but the thought of marriage does not appeal to her. Meanwhile, in nearby Seattle, a group of newly created vampires have gone on a murder spree, making the police and the media think there is a serial killer on the loose. Such behaviour attracts the attention of the Volturi (the ruling elite of the vampires) and they send a team to investigate. Alice Cullen, the vampire with psychic powers, gets a vision of the newly created vampires moving from Seattle en masse to track down and kill Bella. So forewarned, the Cullen clan makes a pact with the local werewolves to join forces and defeat their common enemy. Because Jacob the teenage werewolf is so in love with Bella the two sides are able to work together despite their mutual loathing. Jacob still holds a torch for Bella, and throughout the film tries to woo her back from Edward. Followers of the films and/or books won't be surprised to learn that Victoria is the instigator of the young vampire army as she still seeks vengeance on Bella, whom she blames for the death of her vampire lover, James. So the scene is set for a big confrontation. Who will win the war? Not hard to guess, is it?!
THE FILM. Directorial duties are passed over to David Slade, who directed the much gorier vampire film 30 Days of Night. Consequently, he is quite at home directing action scenes, although he is hampered somewhat by the film having a teen-friendly 12A certificate. Kristen Stewart (Bella), Robert Pattinson (Edward), Taylor Lautner (Jacob) and Ashley Greene (Alice) reprise their roles from the previous two films. Likewise with the actors and actresses playing the rest of the Cullen clan and the tribe of werewolves. The one major change is that Bryce Dallas Howard has been brought in to play Victoria the evil vampire, replacing Rachelle Lefevre. She does so-so in a role that has her do little more than snarling.
THE VERDICT. Irrespective of what I say or think about this film it will be a huge box office smash and I fully expect it to earn more money than any other film this year. The multiplex where I saw it was showing it on five screens, so they clearly expect it to be a massive money-spinner. For what it's worth, I'm not a big fan of the whole Twilight Saga but I don't hate it either. It has vampires and werewolves in it, so that grabs my attention straight away. I am so far removed from the target audience (teenage girls) that it is hard to review the film objectively. There is much to criticise - I still don't see what Edward and Jacob find attractive about Bella (she's a moody, sullen teenager) or what she sees in them (Edward is such a wuss and Jacob is overly emotional). With a running time of just over two hours there are parts of the film that drag along at a snail's pace. In the novel of the same name, I felt that the big fight at the end was over too quickly. Sadly, the same applies to the film. I quite liked the flashback scenes; Rosalie's in particular was rather poignant. I like the look of the werewolves - they are huge and very imposing. If I was a vampire, I wouldn't want to mess with them. And still, my favourite character in the film is Alice Cullen, although she has too little screen time for me. I noticed that one of my new followers has chosen a portrait of Alice for her personal profile. Good choice, Laura!
Twilight Saga author Stephenie Meyer will undoubtedly have a huge hit on her hands with this film. I'll admit to liking it more than I expected and it is certainly a better film than the previous one, New Moon. Just don't expect to find any acting masterclasses here! So, because I gave New Moon a 6 out of 10, I'll rate Eclipse 7 out of 10.