If anyone has vengeance and vampires down to a tee, it’s David Slade. Along with the (literally) dark and gory 30 Days of Night, he also directed Hard Candy, the paedophile entrapment flick. Could it be possible that the third instalment of the Twilight Saga is more adult, and, as the Harry Potter franchise is fond of repeating, the darkest yet? What, and risk alienating their ‘Twihard’ core audience of 14-year-olds and their mums? Alas, despite one of the main characters being a 109-year-old in the body of a 17-year-old, Eclipse and Hard Candy remain a world apart.
All of the inhabitants of Forks speak as if they are bestowing great pearls of wisdom; each sentence is said in such tortured tones that even the handheld camera gets all shaky in the close-ups as if trembling with barely suppressed emotion.
This instalment’s nod to a plot continues on from the last: Bella (Kristen ‘Awkward’ Stewart), the klutzy human who’s unfathomably attractive to members of the opposite species, is dithering between her sparkly-skinned vampire beau, Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson in pain) and her werewolf best friend, Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner and his muscles). But who will she choose?
Bella is torn when Edward asks her to marry him. Despite Edward’s reservations, she wants to be ‘Changed’ into a vampire so she can be with him forever. But marriage? Talk about commitment. Luckily, Jacob is on hand to offer himself as an alternative, reasoning that as he’s alive he’s the better option, (obviously hoping she’s the kind of girl who’ll go with anything that breathes). So continues the love triangle that has a conclusion so obvious, any tension in the film is purely pre-watershed sexual.
Oh yeah, and this film’s token action scene stems from an army of newborn vampires being formed in Seattle by the vamp Victoria (Bryce Dallas Howard), who will be coming to kill Bella because the Cullen family killed her boyfriend in the first film. Thanks to Alice Cullen’s visions on the matter (Ashley Greene), the Cullen family, in their usual array of silly wigs, have four days to form an alliance with Jacob’s werewolf pack to protect Bella because, for reasons best known to themselves, the newborns are arriving on foot.
Novel-writer Stephenie Meyer has tapped into the goldmine of the teenage girl (and, inexplicably, middle-aged woman) psyche with the Twilight Saga. This series has somehow captured teenage hormones and confined them to print for the young and old alike, like the book-form of HRT. As with the first two films, script writer Melissa Rosenberg has tried to inject some semblance of a storyline into Meyer’s masterpiece, whilst still sticking with the original love triangle hoo-ha. However, much like Mills and Boon, any plot is superfluous.
The function of Eclipse’s three leads is to exude as much tension and general sexiness on screen as possible. Unfortunately, they seem to be experiencing some issues with this. Lautner as Jacob substitutes charisma for tight black t-shirts and appears on screen only to brood at Bella before smirking and slinking off. Pattinson always seems to be in some degree of pain and has to look down every time he speaks, as if checking on a wound. Stewart’s Bella is so passive that, apart from her hair, there doesn’t seem to be anything interesting enough about her to warrant any of this fuss.
There’s just so much angst in the Meyer-verse. All of the inhabitants of Forks speak as if they are bestowing great pearls of wisdom; each sentence is said in such tortured tones that even the handheld camera gets all shaky in the close-ups as if trembling with barely suppressed emotion. It looks exhausting. They must long for the day one of them accidentally breaks wind mid-diatribe just to ease the tension.
Once again, one of the most overlooked characters is by far the best: Charlie Swan, played by Billy Burke, is Bella’s long-suffering father who provides subtle comedy where it’s needed the most, and is the voice of reason when it comes to going back out with ex-boyfriends who broke your heart. He alone realises that love this intense will only end in tears. It’s just not healthy. Or maybe that’s the bitterness talking...
This sequel doesn’t have the ethereal atmosphere of its predecessor, New Moon (albeit mostly aided by an excellent soundtrack), which at least had heartbreak as its focus. Instead, Eclipse, much like its heroine, dithers between films. Although, it definitely has more of a sense of humour about it than its forerunners. As with the books, each instalment in the Twilight Saga is all about delaying the inevitable. They’re tantric sequels building up to the climatic finale, which will start with a bang. Literally.
A bloodless battle (the vampires are now all made of ceramic, apparently), werewolves that aren’t quite up to scratch (although they’re an improvement on New Moon’s CGI hairballs) and a tensionless love triangle. Eclipse is filler at best in a series where nothing much happens. Worse, the final book Breaking Dawn is being split into two films, so nothing will happen twice.
The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (12A) is out Friday 9 July