I think it's safe to assume that you fall into one of two groups: you either love Twilight or you hate it. There doesn't seem to be any middle ground there, what with its legions of dedicated fans who will camp out for a week straight just to catch a glimpse of Robert Pattinson at a premiere, or those individuals who walk past the several city blocks where the said Twilight camp has formed and laugh to themselves.
While I consider myself to be more of the latter, I understand the devotion "Twihards" have to the series and can appreciate their enthusiasm. However, I do feel, as I feel about most celebrity-centric pandemonium these days, that the fans can get far too easily carried away, veering more into obsession than celebration, which cannot be healthy. It is that obsession that brings negative comments to reviews like this one, which try to best present a balanced analysis of the cinema form, only to be cut down by largely illiterate, immature rants that basically amount to "if you're not with us, then you're against us."
I assure you, dear Twilight fans, I have nothing but the utmost respect for you and your love, so please, go easy on me.
Eclipse is the third film in The Twilight Saga, and is largely the best offering of the series so far. I suspect much of this can be attributed to director David Slade, whose previous works, Hard Candy and 30 Days of Night, I have a natural affinity for.
Most obvious in the improvement department is the acting, particularly Kristen Stewart. Now, I've known she could act since seeing her in David Fincher's Panic Room back in 2003, and quite enjoyed her recent performance as rocker Joan Jett in The Runaways, but in the first two Twilight films, all Bella seemed to do was mope around. While there's still some moping here, Stewart is much more comparable to a human being, which leads me to the realization that perhaps she is one of those actors that requires a strong director to deliver the goods, much like Mark Wahlberg.
Robert Pattinson's Edward Cullen also seems a little more dynamic this time around, even though his character hasn't progressed all that much since we first met him in Twilight. He's still a hundred plus year-old undead thing, keeping himself chaste until marriage, denying Bella of that thing she wants oh so much. Taylor Lautner is pretty much the same as he was in New Moon, that is, rippled, hunky, largely shirtless and well, wooden.
The main plot point that differentiates Eclipse from its predecessors is that two-time rivals Edward and Jacob must now band together to save Bella from being offed by a flame-haired Bryce Dallas Howard and her army of vampire newbies. Apparently, in the Twi-verse, when a vampire is newly minted, it is bloodthirsty, super strong and extremely violent. Then, either after getting bored or becoming accustomed to the joys of being immortal and having no body temperature, the young vampires "chill out" and graduate to intermediate vamphood. The reason why Edward is so nice is because he's old, which makes his hanging out at high school even creepier than his sexless relationship with Bella.
Because of the impeding vampire threat, Bella is still torn between the vampire and the werewolf, a premise that becomes more ridiculous with each passing film. But at least Slade has some fun with it, jabbing at the conventions of the series through self-referential bits of dialogue and character moments. At one point, Pattinson asks of Lautner, "Doesn't he own a shirt?" only to be rebutted later, when the warm-blooded Jacob Black must cuddle with Bella in front of the cold-blooded Edward in order to keep her from freezing, where Lautner quips back, "I'm hotter than you."
There's also more of Dakota Fanning and the Volturi, though not much, and we get to hang out with the wolfpack again, where it becomes clear that in addition to having tribal tattoos, werewolves must only wear tattered denim shorts. The special effects are slightly less corny than in previous installments, but still look unbelievably fake, and the series' photographic presentation isn't adversely affected by the notoriously visual Slade, although there are many more close-up shots than in the other films.
All of this results in a film that will satisfy pre-existing Twilight fans, but won't succeed in converting any detractors, and thus doesn't answer any of my questions regarding why Slade agreed to take on the project in the first place. After seeing his first two films, I hailed him as an uncompromising director who wouldn't bend his darkly gilded visual style for the sake of selling tickets. Maybe I was wrong. Maybe he's got a gaggle of illegitimate children to support, or some severe gambling debts to pay off. Or maybe it's simpler than that... maybe he's a Twihard too.