The never-ending love triangle between Bella, Jacob, and Edward continues unabated in the latest addition to the Twilight saga in the form of The Twilight Saga: Eclipse. Like all moves that title themselves a saga, the Twilight series of movies contains lots of slow motion, lots of stilted dialog, lots of horrible acting, and enough padding to make Kristen Stewart’s bra look like a crash helmet. And that’s just the opening 15 minutes; there’s a whole other two hours worth of moaning, longing looks, heavy sighs, and mumbled dialog.
The people in the movie that aren’t Bella are also awful.
Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) and her blood-sucking (vampire, not lawyer) boyfriend Edward (Robert Pattinson) are at that stage in any relationship where things are starting to get serious. In the case of a vampire and his mopey, borderline-useless girlfriend, they’re at that stage where she either wants to get laid or she wants to get turned into a vampire; he’s too much of a gentleman to do either, at least not without marrying her first. (Cue the heavy-handed speech on morals and values and courtship, brought to you by the Church of Latter-Day Saints.)
Of course, there’s complications. First of all, Jacob is still in the picture, still shirtless, and still surrounded by other shirtless dudes who like to walk in slow-motion through fields like some sort of Indian tribe of jorts-wearing Reservoir Dogs.
Oh yeah, there’s the little matter of Victoria (now played by Bryce Dallas Howard), who still has an unreasonable axe to grind against the Cullens and their pet human. I mean, all they did was kill her boyfriend! Why is she so upset? And is she connected in some way to the mysterious up tick in killings and vampire activity in Forks-adjacent Seattle? Gee, I wonder!
I’ve heard a few people (cough, Simon Brew) pass on word to me that this Twilight film isn’t nearly as bad as the other Twilight films have been. Those people are wrong. Very wrong. Once again, the Twilight movie takes everything that’s ever been awesome in any supernatural horror movie, from werewolves to vampires in any incarnation, and ruin it completely.
(Fittingly, according to a Robert Pattinson interview, all the movie’s CGI wolves were required by censors to have no genitalia, which is quite possibly the most fitting metaphor one could apply to the entirety of Twilight.)
The Cullen family, when standing together before the big ending battle scene between five Cullens, five shirtless werewolf Indians, and about a 150 newbie vampires (because new vampires, in Twilight‘s completely fucked up mythos, are the most powerful because they’re still chock full of tasty human blood) look like an American Apparel ad, right down to the hipster hoodies, skinny jeans, and asexual makeup split evenly between male and female Cullen. It’s like Carlisle runs his own makeup store on the weekends, pumping out shades of makeup that range from ashen gray to pasty white, with absolutely all shades of super-vanilla in between.
As for the Native Americans, they all look like dark-haired miniature versions of Hulk Hogan, right down to being spray painted orange and freshly pumped full of steroids before every on-camera appearance.
Even the girl werewolf (whose name doesn’t really matter because she’s only there to serve as a third wheel in a love triangle briefly mentioned by Jacob as justification for his continued interference between Bella and her beloved, creepy stalker) looks as though she’s a few cycles away from growing a mustache.
Metrosexual vampires and the Dances With Steroids tribe join forces to fight off an invasion of weirdly multicultural newbie vampires. It’s a perfect way to shake the Twilight series up and kill off a major character, but since this is based on a Stephenie Meyer book and she’s the worst writer in the history of writing, this doesn’t happen. For some reason, ten people are able to slay a few hundred methed-up vampires with only slow-motion break-dancing moves to protect themselves.
If it feels like I’m spoiling Eclipse, I probably am. However, you knew how this would end. Bella would moan and chew on her dialog with her giant teeth, Edward would leer creepily at her while she sleeps, Jacob would roid-rage around in a sexually-frustrated huff, and for some reason, everyone in Forks would continue to be enthralled by Stephenie Mey-… I mean Bella Swan, despite being a black hole of charisma and as graceful as a long-term drunkard with an inner-ear infection.
Strangely, the more these movies try to make themselves better (by adding bona-fied actresses like Dakota Fanning and Bryce Dallas Howard, both of whom must have some serious debts or head injuries to take on roles in Twilight), the worse off the main cast becomes. Kristen Stewart has shelved her twitchy mannerisms, but she’s replaced them with a permanently-stoned semi-mumble that makes her sound like Marlon Brando from The Godfather with an overbite.
The less said about Edward’s American accent and Jasper (Jackson Rathbone)’s Texas accent the better. Pattinson gets a pass because he’s trying to talk Generic American, but Jackson Rathbone has no excuse for not nailing a Texas accent; he grew up in Midland, Texas! If there’s ONE thing he SHOULD be able to do it’s sound like he’s from the place he grew up!
The only actor in the movie who seems like he’s still trying to do something with Melissa Rosenberg’s terrible script is Taylor Lautner. In a way I feel bad for the kid because he’s the only one actually making an effort to show some kind of logical emotions, yet he’s constantly hampered by the Twilight series’ terrible dialogue and Edward-centric nature. All the other principals in the film gave up hope of escaping this flick long ago, and seem as though they’re counting down the minutes until they’re free to suffer the same typecasting that has turned the Star Trek crew into bitter husks of humanity, feeding off the dregs of fandom. Yet Taylor, bless him, is still putting forth an effort.
As for the direction of David Slade, well… it’s not very good. This movie is a very bloated 124 minutes, and is in dire need of some serious cuts in the beginning and middle. I know he’s trying to make chicken salad out of that other stuff, but he can do action so much better than this (as we saw in 30 Days of Night).
Then again, this is the PG-13 Twilight Saga; you can’t have anything exciting like blood and gory death scenes; instead the vampires get their heads ripped off and instantly turn into mannequins with CGI’d injuries.
Melissa Rosenberg’s wooden script isn’t helping matters, either. There’s only so much you can do with the source material, which is basically a romance for preteen girls and brainwashed housewives mesmerized by rippling abs and glitter paint, but the Twilight Saga is setting new lows for obnoxious, predictable, and painfully stilted dialog. Even the movie’s few jokes land with a leaded thud, but I guess I can take heart in the fact that they tried to be funny at least once every hour.
As I’ve been pondering this horrible movie-going experience, I’ve been looking for someone to blame. Sure, I brought it on myself by going out and seeing this movie, but like any good crime against humanity, there are a lot of root causes at work here. The actors, director, and writer share the blame equally, with Stephenie Meyer as the mastermind behind the whole blight on humanity and Twilight‘s millions of fans as the all-too-willing collaborators. God help us all.
See Carley’s take on the movie here.
US correspondent Ron Hogan is in dire need of an eyeball-scrubbing and some intensive psychotherapy after suffering through three Twilight films. Find more by Ron daily at Shaktronics and PopFi, and at his blog, Subtle Bluntness.