Sunday, November 20, 2011

TWILIGHT: ECLIPSE (2010) - Review

I don't understand the reason why this series keeps changing directors. All three films so far have tried on a different director, but the result is invariably the same : an inferior cinematic creation. After Catherine Hardwicke and Chris Weitz failed to work miracles on the first two movies, David Slade was brought on to deal with the wider scope of events in "Eclipse". Slade, for a change, actually has some horror in his background ("30 Days and 30 Nights", "Hard Candy") and "Eclipse" was his chance to score a big mainstream hit. While this third installment made a lot of money, it's far from being Slade's best work

Bella (Kristen Stewart) and Edward (Robert Pattinson) are now ready to take their relationship to the next level. No, I'm not talking about sex. I'm talking about Edward turning Bella into a vampire. After all, it's crucial that he turns her, because the Volturi clan spared her life with the condition that Bella eventually becomes a vampire. She's more than willing to become a creature of the night, but Edward, however, being the old-fashioned stud that he is, wants to wait until after they're married.

Their love affair is, however, threatened by Victoria (Bryce Dallas Howard replacing Rachelle Lefevre), that pesky vampire chick that seems to be the spare villain in these stories. She's building an army of new-borns, freshly turned vampires with incredible strength in their first year of life, in order to once and for all crush the Cullens, the Quileute and, especially, Bella. So, vampires and werewolves find themselves forming an uneasy alliance in order to defeat Victoria's army.

The problem within the problem is Bella herself, who is not fully convinced of her commitment to Edward. She still has feelings for Jacob and he has such warm blood, unlike Edward, who is so cold and pale. So, should she go for the vampire, or the werewolf ? Decisions, decisions. For me, personally, it was really hard to swallow the love triangle narrative without feeling the need for a bit of sarcasm. Bella keeps swinging between Team Edward and Team Jacob, but you don't get the feeling of something even remotely dramatic. It has the emotional depth of a Hallmark Channel movie. It's amazing how the three leads manage to keep a straight face through all of the terrible dialogue, crunching their way through one clunky line after another.

The good news this time around is that there are some real action scenes. The movie actually treats us to a climactic battle scene. The visual effects are noticeably improved, although it still bothers me how unimaginative the werewolves look. Right out of a Disney movie like "Jungle Book". The bigger problem, however, is that there are still major issues with the way the characters work in the context of the story. They don't feel like real persons with unreal problems. I kept thinking of "Interview With a Vampire" and how absorbing those characters were. Here you just can't invest any emotion in them, because they have the complexity of soap opera characters. And sometimes the acting is just that awful, as well. Besides, the supernatural elements are just filler for the flimsy romance infused into the story because it needed to appeal to the teenage audience.

It's not that this movie is more flawed than the previous two. In some cases it's not. The weak plot and characters, the bad acting, poor art direction and moody tone have become traits of the series ever since the first "Twilight". They don't get worse, they just feel like they do the more you see them. Sitting through all three movies feels more like a chore than a delight, which makes one wonder if the novels were any good to begin with and if a cinematic adaptation was really necessary ? The only real justification for the big screen franchise is that it makes money. Bill Condon ("Dreamgirls", "Gods and Monsters") has directed the fourth and fifth movies in the franchise, the first of which, "Breaking Dawn Part 1"  has just been released this week-end. "Breaking Dawn Part 2" will be released on November 16, 2012. The two movies are based on the final novel in the saga. In the meantime, David Slade will be rebooting "Daredevil". At least someone's moving on to greener pastures.

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