Wednesday, 8 September 2010

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (Slade, 2010)

I'll admit now, I'm certainly no 'Twi-hard' - I thought the first film was dreadful, and can't stand the whole attitude that comes with the crazy Twilight fans. Robert Pattinson is an actor, Edward Cullen is a character - and a pretty horrific one at that. Anyone who fails to observe this fact is a moron of supreme proportions in my eyes, and hopefully the eyes of anyone with half a grain of sanity. The whole fan culture of Twilight baffles me, as it seems to be everywhere, and if I see one more 'Team Edward' t-shirt, I might have to puke on it.

But now that's out of the way,  I'm going to put aside any feelings I have towards the whole phenomenon of Twilight, and base this review on the film itself. Hopefully this one will generate some discussion, as it certainly splits opinion.

In the opening scenes, we see new character, Riley Biers (Xavier Samuel), leaving a bar on a conveniently dramatic rainy night, where he is attacked by an unknown creature. It turns out later in the movie that it was Victoria (Bryce Dallas Howard), planning to turn him into one of the fanged ones. Her purpose is to raise an army of 'newborns' - freshly converted vampires, to set upon the Cullens and to get to Bella (Kristen Stewart), seeking vengeance against Edward (Robert Pattinson...see...character, actor..) for killing her lover, James.

After this quite exciting opening, we've got some very pretty shots of countryside and trees and things accompanied by a Bella voiceover of some poem about fire and ice and stuff. Edward and Bella are sitting in their 'romantic moments' field when Edward brings up the subject of marriage - something Bella disagrees with at her young age. But she wants Edward to 'turn' her - and marriage is his compromise. His old-fashioned nature is something that pops up throughout the film, particularly in an 'almost-sex' scene, where he talks some babble about 'courting' and 'stealing a kiss'.

Thankfully, as opposed to in previous films, Bella seems to have grown into a more likeable character in Eclipse. Instead of being a mardy loner, she socialises and seems to mope about a lot less. Edward is being his usual possessive self, trying to keep his grip on Bella, but shows that she's no longer willing to pander to him, demonstrated by her jumping on the back of Jacob's motorbike, despite Edward's attempts to prevent her from seeing him.Unfortunately, in the end she agrees to do the 'life' things his way - marriage, sexytimes THEN becoming a vampire. Siiigh. Despite moves forward, the Bella character still seems to be there for 'normal' girls to be given the hope that they too can find someone as 'perfect' as Edward. A prime example of unrealistic romance films.

A much better choice from where I'm standing is friend, werewolf and Edward's love rival, Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner). As with his appearance in New Moon, he spends plenty of time without a shirt on (something I quite enjoyed...), prompting a  rare moment of humour from Edward - 'does he OWN a shirt?'. His attempts to win Bella round are futile, and her seeming inability to let him down gently is frustrating.

Although Edward and Bella's relationship features centrally to the saga, Eclipse thankfully gives us more from the Cullens - who are much stronger and interesting characters. Although brief, insights into Rosalie (Nikki Reed) and Jasper (Jackson Rathbone) are welcomed. The former gives her story of being raped and left to die, but becoming a vampire and taking revenge, the latter his tales of training newborns to fight, but being 'saved' by Alice Cullen (Ashley Greene). Alice has the power to see visions of the future, and is therefore invaluable to the group - although Victoria manages to 'hide' behind the newborns to prevent Alice having full knowledge of her plans. This exploration of the characters surrounding the central love story colours the film and is something I'd actually have liked to see even more of.

The fight between the 'newborns' and the strange Cullen-werewolves alliance is actually well choreographed and exciting - the one thing about the earlier Twilight films I did enjoy were the more action-based scenes. If there were more of these, and less whining in meadows, perhaps the films would have been more appealing. The script at times seems is rather cringeworthy - although I've never read the book series, I can imagine much of the writing being down these lines.

Despite the mysogynistic undertones of the story, pushing the romance aside Eclipse is actually not a bad film. Visually, it delivers, with a beautiful setting and some well-thought out sequences. It's not brilliant, has a very annoying central character in Edward, and it won't be accepted by the film snobs of the world. But, for mainstream 'romance' drama, it delivers a watchable two hours.


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