Summer Blockbuster Preview: Twilight Eclipse

Our latest summer blockbuster preview takes a look ahead to one of the biggest movies of the season: it's Twilight Eclipse...

What Is It?

The third film based on US author Stephenie Meyer’s series of best selling fantasy romance novels, Eclipse sees Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson once again reprising their roles as Isabella and Edward, the teenage lovers whose relationship is complicated by the fact that Edward happens to be a vampire.

In Eclipse, Seattle is terrorised by an army of newborn vampires created by the similarly blood sucking Victoria (Bryce Dallas Howard, who replaces Rachelle Lefevre). Edward must therefore join forces with Jacob and his clan of werewolves to counter this hideous new threat, while Isabella is forced to choose between Jacob and Edward, mortality or immortality, as well as prepare for her impending graduation.

Eclipse provides the bridge between the first two films, Twilight and New Moon, and the events of the final novel, Breaking Dawn, the adaptation of which is due for release in 2011.

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Who’s Behind It?

David Slade is in the director’s chair for this instalment, and his work on psychological thriller Hard Candy, and bloody vampire horror 30 Days Of Night makes him an intriguing choice for a series that has so far placed its emphasis more on romance than horror.

Slade’s remarks last year didn’t exactly enamour him to Twilight fans (“Twilight at gun point? Just shoot me,” he said on an American radio show), and led to a hasty and apologetic retraction a few days later: “I was being silly and none of the statements were from the heart.” Nevertheless, Slade is the perfect choice of director for a picture that was always intended to be darker than its predecessors.

Melissa Rosenberg returns as screenwriter, which should at least ensure a continuity of tone between this and the previous two films, while Javier Aguirresarobe once again lends his cinematography skills to the series.

The reliably excellent Howard Shore provides the soundtrack, while rock band Muse, whom writer Meyer once listed as one of her inspirations, provide a typically angst-ridden theme song.

Why Should I Watch It?

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If you’re already a Twilight fan, you won’t need an excuse to go and see Eclipse. The middling reviews of its predecessor certainly didn’t hurt its success, with New Moon raking in almost $300 million in box office takings (a sound return on its $50 million budget), so Eclipse could also prove to be one of the most successful films of the summer.

For those less enamoured with the Twilight series, the latest trailer may offer a ray of hope. Director David Slade’s previous films were singularly dark affairs, and the latest trailers for Eclipse suggests that some of Slade’s full-blooded style may have permeated this latest film.

While the doe-eyed romance elements are still very much in evidence (along with plenty of topless and toned males), there are also hints of some sterling action sequences. There’s an impressive glimpse of Robert Pattinson hopping between trees with Spider-Man-like agility, and several violent-looking werewolf attacks, though I won’t dwell on the fact that they are actually just really big wolves rather than proper lycanthropes.

The quality of the cast also deserves a mention. Twilight haters may sneer at the series’ angst and teenage gloom, but there’s no getting away from the fact that Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart make for a convincing screen couple, and both stars give more commitment to their performances than most detractors will readily admit. Dakota Fanning also looks convincing as a particularly freaky teenage vampire.

It’s easy for some movie goers of a geek persuasion to dismiss the Twilight series – and it’s a franchise that frequently divides our readership down the middle – but there’s at least a possibility that Eclipse‘s harsher tone and heightened level of action could provide an evening’s entertainment for those immune to Robert Pattinson’s pallid allure.

US release date: 30th JuneUK release date: 9th July

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