tue 16/07/2024

The Twilight Saga - Eclipse | reviews, news & interviews

The Twilight Saga - Eclipse

The Twilight Saga - Eclipse

Yes, it's the eternal human-vampire-werewolf triangle. Again.

Who's it to be? Jacob or Edward? Edward or Jacob? Ooh, I can't decide.

It's the eternal human-vampire-werewolf triangle, and at times it feels as though it really will go on for ever and ever. The story so far: in the small North-West Pacific town of Forks, where the sun hardly ever shines, a teenage girl called Bella loves Edward, a 100-year-old vampire who is perfect in every way, except of course that he drinks (non-human) blood, and has a tendency to sparkle on those rare occasions when the sun does come out.

But, as we all know, girls like sparkly things, so that's OK.

But hey, it's complicated, because Bella also loves Jacob, a Native American of the Quaalude tribe who hardly ever wears a shirt and periodically turns into a wolf, which in my book makes him a werewolf, though fans of Stephenie Meyers' Twilight tetralogy prefer to think of him as a shapeshifter. Edward or Jacob? Jacob or Edward? Who's it to be? The vampire with the Marcel Marceau make-up? Or the werewolf whose neck is the same thickness as his head? The third volume in Meyer's young adult novels is the one where even some of the saga's fans lose patience with Bella, who dithers so much between the two glowering alpha males that you want to slap her. Not for nothing is this sequel known as Hésitation in France.

Meanwhile, in nearby Seattle, a ginger-wigged vampire called Victoria (played by an over-qualified Bryce Dallas Howard, who gets a couple of close-ups and minimal dialogue) is amassing an army of new-born vampires to march on Forks and kill Bella as revenge on Edward for his having killed Victoria's mate a couple of films ago. Can the good vampires of Forks parlay a truce with the Quaalude werewolves, their traditional enemies, and band together with them to defeat the aggressors?

David Slade, who takes over directing duties from Catherine Hardwicke (who had a budget of $37 million on the first film) and Chris Weitz ($50 million on New Moon, the second) has a budget of $68 million and a track record which includes bad-ass vampires (30 Days of Night) and bad-ass teenage girls (Hard Candy). Needless to say, neither the vampires nor the teenage girl in Eclipse are terribly bad-ass, but Slade handles it as well as can be expected; he knows where to put his camera in the smoochy close-ups, in which you can see the texture of everyone's skin, and he handles the action fairly well, even if the climactic good- versus-evil vampire rumble resembles nothing so much as a rugby match in which a couple of large dogs have got loose on the pitch.

eclipsenewbornsI'm many decades older and several broken hearts' worth more cynical than the Twilight saga's target audience, but it does seem to me to be nothing less than emo-porn for teenage girls, bolstering them in the delusion that a) there's only one person in the world for them; b) true love lasts for ever, and c) they're the centre of the universe - lawks-a-mercy, entire armies of vampires and werewolves fighting over little old me! And yes, every girl's ambition should be limited to having a couple of studly males locked in a pissing contest for her charms.

This is the opposite of the Bechdel Test: when two guys get together in Eclipse, all they ever talk about is Bella, Bella, Bella. On the printed page, she's priggish, faux-naive and insufferable, but as in the first two films, she's fortunate to be played by Kristen Stewart, who with her sulky mouth and pointy chin, can't help but invest the character with a smidgeon of spiky attitude she wouldn't otherwise possess. As for Edward and Jacob, the jury's still out on whether Robert Pattinson can do anything other than sparkle and brood, while, for my money, Taylor Lautner is still cuter in wolf form than in super-ripped shirtless mode, though the squeals and giggles that greeted his every appearance at the screening I attended suggest I'm in a minority here.

But does Bella have to be such a wuss? While everyone's fighting over her, the most proactive thing she ever does is to slash her arm to distract some of the evil vampires with the smell of her blood; passive-aggressive self-harm, I guess you could call it. And she doesn't seem fazed when Edward makes all her decisions for her (they're still not having sex, of course, but she wants him to turn her into a vampire before she gets too old; he wants to marry her first), or when Jacob says things like, "Better you'd really be dead than one of them." Excuse me, but doesn't this sound like psychotic controlling behaviour? I'm on the side of Bella's parents, who advise her not to give up all her friends for Edward, and that there's more to life than just one guy. But of course they're dismissed as fuddy-duddy party-poopers. They're old. What do they know about teenage longing?

eclipseflowersI enjoyed flashbacks to the origins to Jasper and Rosalie, two of Edward's vampire "family". I like the Volturi, bossy Italian vampires who walk in slo-mo and lurk on the sidelines here in preparation for taking over the Big Bad role in Breaking Dawn, the final novel which is currently being filmed in two parts; two of these capi di tutti capi are played by former child stars Dakota Fanning and Cameron Bright, who look like they're having a ball just standing around, being evil. Another former child star, Jodelle Ferland, plays a new-born vampire who's also the protagonist (if you can apply that term to such a mousey character) in Meyer's Twilight spin-off, The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner: An Eclipse Novella, the title of which is a bit of a spoiler in itself.

I liked how the new-born vampires walked through water like the pirates in Pirates of the Caribbean or the zombies in Land of the Dead. And I loved the way they literally turn to marble when they're destroyed - perhaps a cunning way to limit the bloodshed in accordance with the PG-rating, but so strange and impressive it's maybe even worth sitting through the rest of the film just for those moments when you glimpse a limb or head crumbling away. But the marble thing got me curious about Edward's anatomy. We already know his skin is hard. But does it mean he's hard all over, all the time? I guess we'll have to wait for Breaking Dawn to find out.

PS I know Jacob's Native American tribe isn't really called the Quaaludes. I'm having a laugh.

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