The Twilight Saga, with its latest installment Eclipse, continues to be one of the most infuriating and confounding properties on the cinematic landscape. For a third consecutive film I can write very similar comments and observations: does not fulfill the promise of its concept, too much film for too little story and so on. What makes it even more bothersome is that while none of the films has been capable of being called quality cinema they have been going on an upward trajectory which exacerbates those elements holding it back.
Eclipse, like the other editions, refuses to advance the main thrust of the story at a tolerable level. Meanwhile, the subplots, backstories and even confrontations between Edward and Jacob and even the alliance they form versus the newborn army are actually engaging and intense at times (gasp!). The rug is pulled out from under all of that work, however, by the fact that either the film doubles back in a lame attempt at a cross-feature frame or just ignores the end of the last film and puts the marriage of Bella and Edward back in doubt as we are forced, yet again to listen to them debate that, her changing and the consummation of their relationship on several different occasions. God help us all if this starts a new brand of cinema where narrative continuity is completely disregarded without any seeming intent or design and dawdling becomes the new norm.
The acting in this edition is improved on the whole. Unfortunately, the cast’s biggest weakness lies on the shoulders of the protagonist portrayed by Kristen Stewart. Stewart in this film manages a rare feat in as much as she is not only wholly ineffective but also mush-mouthed and an editor’s worst nightmare; her reactions are so absent of any kind of true emotion that a slight glance away suffices to motivation for a cut. Kudos to Art Jones and Nancy Richardson for having to edit around such vacant reacting.
However, the rest of the cast does rise up to the challenge of making this film stomachable. Robert Pattinson was in part handcuffed by his character, the script and lack of screen time in New Moon. Here he once again resembles the man who played Cedric Diggory, namely an actor comfortable being on screen. Jackson Rahtbone’s turn as Jasper deserves the nod as probably the most effective and interesting in the entire picture. In this role Taylor Lautner finally came into his own in the series and had great comic timing on the few jokes he was given.
Which leads to the next issue: this film, and the series as a whole, would be better served it was more tongue and cheek. As of this moment it takes itself far too seriously such that it becomes pretentious. And the Twihards responded to the jokes like Jacob saying to Edward “We all know I’m hotter than you.” A little levity can go a long way in the woe-is-me world of Stephenie Meyer.
Also improved in this edition of the story is the CG and thank goodness for that. It was apparent both that the wolves would get more involved and that the animation of them needed to improve and it did.
The direction and cinematography, while not something to write home about, was definitely more balanced and sure-handed than it was in the previous two films. Perhaps for the two-part finale more sense will be knocked into the equation not that I am holding my breath.
For more info: you can visit the film’s official site. For tickets and showtimes please visit Fandango.