In The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, the soulless vampire and the shirtless werewolf team up to take them evil-doers down.
Last time we left Forks, Washington, a small town with more vegetation than you will ever see, the most famous dead man since Michael Jackson had just proposed to a woman who is roughly 90 years his junior. That man is Edward Cullen, a lean, mean Shakespeare-qouting machine with all the liveliness of someone who just celebrated his 100th birthday. Coincidentially, Edward did; he’s a healthy 109 years old, but that hasn’t stopped him from hitting on the the new sweet sixteen of Forks, Bella Swan, by hitting a car. It’s akward, as is everything in this universe. In this third installment of Stephenie Meyer’s insanely popular book series, we follow the young one and the very old one as they struggle with the same things they struggled with last time. Also, there is Jacob Black (whose birth name, contrary to popular belief, does not actually include neither “Team” nor “FTW”, I’m told) the sympathetic youngster who morphed from long-haired, good-natured gay best friend into hot-blooded, quick-witted macho man in the course of the last movie, New Moon. In that very long and ill-paced movie Mr. Black discovered that he is a werewolf, which led to dreary, heavy-handed soul-searching on beaches and jumping from cliffs, and, famously, to a lot of un-dressing of upper bodies. After Cullens modest proposal Jacob and Bella has stopped the talking and upped the non-talking, until loveable Father of Bella, Charlie, insists that she needs to spend more time with other people than the aforementioned thespian from another century. Then action starts.
Eclipse essentially follows every plotline from the former movies, and adds a hell of a lot of fighting: You are excused if you remember zero of the reason why Bella still is being haunted by the redheaded she-pire Victoria, because neither do I. I think has got beef with our heroine because Edward killed her lover at the end of the first film. Still alive and kicking too, is the strange tribal fight between Edwards vampires and Jakes werewolves, based on some semi-religious old culture clash involving quite a lot of bad feelings. And let’s not forget the Volturi’s, my dear! They, being the upper class watchdogs of the vampire world, are back on track, committed to checking out whether the Cullen clan has sinned against the unwritten rules of vampire etiquette by being friendly to a human being (mostly Bella) without subsequently sucking all of the blood out of her. All this is further elaborated upon in Eclipse, plus a few, new plot twists. Most notably, Seattle has seen a rapid increase in street violence and murder, which we know are due to the unexpected rise of a new class of rookie vampires, egged on by Victoria. This unruly bunch of blood-sucking newbies is, we are told by boring, very scary Cullen brother Jasper (who looks younger than Edward, but has outlived him by a margin of hundreds of years), has not yet learned to tame the bloodlust, and is therefore a giant threat to Bella and the rest of the gang. Stupid set up notwithstanding, this opens up some interesting plot possibilities, as it involves the one thing that the soulless vampire and the shirtless werewolf agrees on; the importance of Bella being safe. In vintage unconvincing manner, the two fighting clans, with backing from elder statesmen and longtime hatemongers Sam (W) and Carlisle (V), set up truce for the sole purpose of saving one person whose not even part of the conflict in any meaningful way. Jake, fresh off from declaring his love for Bella for the 27th time, and Edward, fresh off trying to con said girl into marrying yet again, team up to bring that band of wacko vampire-emos down! Yeah!
We’ll leave the rest up to you to find out.
I find Eclipse to be a far better movie than New Moon in surprisingly many ways. In my review of the former, I said New Moon was “great fun”. After seeing the next chapter, I know realize it really wasn’t, it was just entertainingly grandiose. Eclipse on its part has done wise moves on most of the more horrendous choice from the last outing, including stepping up the speed considerably. That suits the more action-packed plot fine, as it creates room for the formerly dreaded emotional sit-downs to be something else than too long sleeping pills between the extensive fight scenes. As the one out of maybe three guys who have seen Eclipse on the opening day, I am still not sold on the fighting sequences. The CGI effects are cool but showy and the energy is well built up, but I still can’t get my head around what is happening. Can these soulless things die? Do the wolfpack (that’s Jacob and a dozen other sparsely clad teenagers when shifted into all-out werewolf-mode) do more harm than good? And why, why is it that every vampire-like creature in Edward Cullens way seems to evaporate and die simply by being shoved gently away? Young Cullen himself needs some heavy beating to go down, but the rookies hit the ground and die in an instant, almost every time. Damned thing, that rigged game.
But rest assured, you uneased fan of horrible acting and mental vacations, not everything has changed. This is still reliably Twilighty, my friend. Lautner, now ready to take a commanding role on screen, does so by out-Pattinsoning Robert Pattinson almost from the start. In New Moon, especially Pattinson’s acting was mind numbingly bad. It still is, but with Lautner at center stage, it’s no longer “special”, since they are both there to provide the badness. And boy, they do. This is layed out in deliciously, probably unconsciously funny detail in a short scene in which Kristen Stewart’s Bella smacks Lautner’s Jacob over his forehead after an event thou shalt be spared for. Reaction? Miss Swan’s hand is literally broken, evidently because He Who Has No Shirt is so strong that trying to harm him has the same effect as to try to break a plank with your bare hands. The clever irony is all to fitting to overlook, of course (you could arrange the words “fit” and “look” in a slightly different way to create yet another, wholly valid segue into finally understanding why troves of 11 year olds and gay men keep coming to these events, but never mind): What a wooden performance. Hah!
Save for all the insulting lack of real acting, there’s no reason at all not to enjoy this one. It’s a pre-packaged thrill for me, you and everyone you know, so long as everyone you know are female and very young. Or if they simply like looking at pretty people, listening to cool musical brands lending their credibility to a pleasurable detail, or want some of that kicking or biting with their popcorn. Then we all go our merry way, and forget all about it. Time well spent, indeed, but now let’s get down to business and solve some real problems, shall we? Oh, wait.
OK. I finally get it. Team Edward vs Team Jacob is shaping up to be the defining either-you-are-with-us-or-you-are-against-us-question of this summer, troubling everyone from likely Supreme Court judges to the everyone you know-crowd. And it’s even woven in to the film’s actual plot with elegance and ease, with that already oft-quoted, double-edged “Let’s face it – I’m hotter than you”-pun! Then let’s just agree: Edward Cullen is whiny, pale and boring. I’m with Wolfie.
Now I plan to re-join real life.
MOVIE OF NOTE:
The Twilight Saga: Eclipse premiered June 30