It should be said before my review that yes, I am a fan of the Twilight Saga movies. Not a Twi-hard by any means but I do find enough enjoyment out of the films to keep paying $6-$12 to see them. The books are a territory I refuse to cross into in fear of finding that same enjoyment that will make someone go to... peculiar lengths to express their excitement. Without this literary base knowledge, I am free of making comparisons and able to appreciate the films as singular pieces of work rather than adaptations.
Eclipse was okay at best. The movie was almost entirely a melodrama and depending on that to carry viewers through 124 minutes of a film is simply asking too much. If you're into melodrama, you'll love it and this is the movie for you. If you're team Edward or Jacob, you'll love it because you're nuts like that. There's just no way to make melodrama cinematically interesting. If there is, I haven't seen it yet. It's dishy, immature, and some people apparently can't get enough of it. This inability for Bella to choose between Edward and Jacob is a classic love triangle but watered down, put in a supernatural world, and dressed in the form of an apparently irresistible Robert Pattinson and muscled out Taylor Lauter.
The film allowed both actors time to shine – or should I say sparkle – for Edward and for Jacob. Half naked or not, the improvements in Taylor Lautner's acting was a redeeming quality especially since he was posing a lot of the drama. When watching New Moon recently, I found his ability to convey emotion rather lacking, something I did not notice until sitting down and watching it again. In Eclipse, there were emotional scenes that Taylor executed very well which was a welcome compliment to Kristen Stewart's skill.
The problems with the film, I believe, did not lie within the writing. In fact, there were some lines in the movie not said in the book that had the entire theater howling. Trying to pull enough material from the source material to make it interesting for the film can be no easy task yet when the story is not there, it's just never going fully work no matter how well Melissa Rosenberg can spin vampire angst.
Character development in the Cullen family was also an improvement for me. Following this one vampire family across three films and finally getting to know their back story added at least a few interesting scenes in a movie dominated by dialogue between Bella, Edward, and Jacob. Jackson Rathbone's Jasper acting as a vampire battle trainer was actually one of the more interesting parts of the film. The viewer is presented with a back story that is narratively necessary to discover why he in particular is training everyone. And best of all, it isn't melodramatic. It's a simple exploration of one character that sets up the battle scenes in the third act.
The battle scene with the Cullens and wolf pack against the Victoria's newborn vampire army completely made the film for me. David Slade can act himself an action scene and I am happy having paid money to see that scene. It, from character types alone, is completely different from any scene around. Fight scenes these days rely heavily on guns and even the Underworld movies relied on swords. As far as having werewolves and vampires slaughter a group of other vampires, Hollywood was missing this and Eclipse rose to this challenge. There was something about the sound of the vampires being decapitated that made me smile each time it happened.
The return to Catherine Hardwicke's washed out frames with blue tones was not a welcome one for me. David Slade's capitalization on color in New Moon was an unexpected yet appreciated element that drew me, as a fan of color, into the film. Simply washing out every single shot screams of an attempt to convey a pretentious sense of darkness. The less stylized fight scenes in Eclipse were also a departure from New Moon that worked for the film.
Something also questionable to me was the rather boisterously delivered message about waiting until marriage to have sex. This felt unbelievably forced and came across as a PSA from Stephanie Meyer. Inserting something so moral like that was basically an advertisement for Mormonism. People are free to believe whatever they want to believe but I never appreciate having that sort of thing dictated to me, especially when I'm paying money to be taken out of my head and entertained.
I did see Eclipse during one of the best settings: a sold out show with reserved seats just slightly off center, a crowd who laughed at all of the great lines, and friends who thought it was as silly as I did. But even all of that combined was not enough for me to completely get passed the melodrama of the film. Melodrama does not provide enough substance in films to carry me through more than an hour of scenes, dazzle me with a great fight scene, and return to the drama. For a more hateful review, please see CNN or any other blog.