The Twilight Saga: Eclipse
Review by Jack Foley
DAVID Slade cut his teeth on adult-orientated movies Hard Candy and 30 Days of Night, so would seem ideally suited to adding some bite to the darker third entry in the Twilight series.
But while Eclipse is arguably the best in the franchise so far, it’s beginning to feel increasingly constrained by its 12A certificate, prompting even the most die-hard Twihard to ponder what might happen if the series was really let off the leash.
Such musings aside, Eclipse still arrives as the most muscular movie of the three so far, almost completely eschewing the indie origins of Catherine Hardwicke’s original and opting for a more even mix between the romance and thrills than Chris Weitz’s New Moon (a film based on the novel that even fans describe as the weakest in the series).
It remains in Forks, as Bella (Kristen Stewart) continues to juggle her emotions for vampire Edward (Robert Pattinson) and werewolf Jacob (Taylor Lautner), as both men are forced to form an uneasy alliance in a bid to stave off the threat posed to Bella by vengeful vamp Victoria (Bryce Dallas Howard).
To make matters more pressing, a newborn vampire army is being created in Seattle, led by a former missing person named Riley (Xavier Samuel), which has attracted the interest of vampire rulers The Volturi (led by Dakota Fanning in this film)… an interest that threatens to expose the fact that Bella has yet to be turned into a bloodsucker herself, as per the Volturi’s request at the end of New Moon.
Slade’s film opens with a fangtastically moody sequence involving the conversion of Riley, which has to rate as the most frightening sequence in the franchise so far, and which sets the tone for the darkness that follows during the big set pieces.
That said, Slade also infuses proceedings with shots of well-judged humour that tip the film’s hat to some of the more ridiculous elements of the series (witness Pattinson’s enquiry to Jacob as to whether he possesses a shirt) and is content to spend plenty of time exploring the love triangle dynamic between Bella, Edward and Jacob, which lends the film its emotional core.
Admittedly, some of the more chaste elements of proceedings are likely to draw inadvertent sniggers, while the brooding is overdone (just as it was in New Moon).
But Slade also expands the format to allow several of the supporting characters to tap into their back stories, with several of the Cullen family relating their past via well-orchestrated flashback sequences.
The big set piece battles that form the culmination of the movie, meanwhile, are impressively staged, with the CGI werewolves continuing to impress. It’s during these moments, in particular, though that Slade’s film might have benefited from a higher certificate, to draw on the blood and peril that would seem to come naturally with the vampire genre.
That said, Eclipse has more than enough to keep the Twihards happy and is a competent blockbuster that moves the franchise forward in healthy fashion. It makes the prospect of the final two movies (split from one book, Breaking Dawn) into an intriguing one, if only to see how the love story pans out, and who – if anyone – gets their comeuppance.
Slade, meanwhile, continues to enhance his reputation as a smart director, whose absence from the final two movies could yet be sorely missed.
Running time: 124mins
UK DVD & Blu-ray Release Date: December 6, 2010
- Buy it on DVD (Amazon)
- Buy it on Blu-ray (Amazon)
- The Twilight Saga: Eclipse review
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- Ashley Greene and Nikki Reed interview
- David Slade interview
- Xavier Samuel and Booboo Stewart interview
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- The Twilight Saga: New Moon coverage
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