Directed by: David Slade
Starring: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner
The Twilight Saga is admittedly a rare breed of cinema, despite how much of an abomination each previous installment is to the fullest extent. I say this because even though we as viable parts of the movie viewing community are capable of recognizing both respectable and terrible pieces of filmmaking, the films in question seem to somehow fall into their own category. Having familiarized myself with the ridiculous premise and the loathsome central themes that come with it, I managed to muster up enough strength to prevent these elements from unabashedly destroying the third Twilight film for roughly 4 or 5 paragraphs. Instead, I decided to cut director David Slade some slack and acknowledge Eclipse as something that’s more or less supposed to be awful, yet could potentially teeter on the brink of mediocrity given some favorable creative touches.
For those who may have stumbled upon my review of New Moon, you may already know how the series’ screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg has a nasty penchant for cringeworthy dialogue. Lucky for us, this aspect of the script hasn’t changed one bit, and despite a few solid jabs at lighthearted humor, it’s only a slight step above that of the film’s immediate predecessor. A welcome change however can be found within a heaping dose of action, of which is actually quite enjoyable despite the ever-present love triangle subplot that doesn’t hesitate to kick back into full gear the second things begin to calm down. The introduction of several new characters is also a welcome departure from all of Bella’s whining and indecision, and their involvement actually adds an appreciable air of suspense and intrigue, thus (somewhat) successfully transforming Eclipse into an actual film thanks to Slade and his ability to bring at least some semblance of cohesion to the series.
Believe it or not, our beloved central characters also manage to smile! Such a detail won’t necessarily take a whole lot away from how increasingly laughable their performances are becoming, but despite Stewart’s ability to actually act on most occasions, the efforts of Lautner and Pattinson are beginning to mimic the state their careers may find themselves in following the fourth and final Twilight film. It’s apparent now, if it wasn’t in the previous film, that 75% of Lautner’s talent lies within a set of well-oiled abs and two facial expressions, the latter of which aren’t that noticeably different. I guess we can all blame the dialogue in the end, but hey, if you can single someone out in a sea of already lackluster performances, that’s saying something. The efforts of Stewart (finally) and the supporting cast end up being a good deal more than just tolerable, and coupled with the film’s surprisingly well-executed climax, manage to once again put Eclipse a step ahead of the first two installments.
Now this isn’t to say that I wholly enjoyed the film; it was tolerable and at points quite entertaining, but at the end of the day, it’s still a Twilight film. Putting all of the discrepancies I had with the first two films aside, the addition of some new story elements and a favorable third director manage to inject life into a franchise that couldn’t afford to make any further missteps. The action is great, the pacing is as good as it gets and even the performances have improved, but there’s just no getting around how anyone that wasn’t a rabid Twilight fan from the get-go will never really enjoy these films. This is mostly due to the amount of garbage that needs to make the dreaded transition from book to film, but Rosenberg’s scripts don’t necessarily help matters any, and I’m sure she has director Slade to thank for the positive turn Eclipse has taken.