Sunday 4 July 2010

Review: Twilight Saga: Eclipse

Year: 2010
Director: David Slade
Screenplay: Melissa Rosenberg
Starring: Robert Patterson, Kristen Stewart, Taylor Lautner

Tell a fan of the twilight saga you don't dig the films and they're likely to say: "You need to read the books." Now while I understand that in reading the source material, it may enhance certain aspects of story, character, themes etc, a good cinematic adaptation will still have a certain appeal. The idea of having the read the book to "get" the film is folly and there's many great movies adapted from books that I feel have bucked the trend.

Like it's predecessors, I found Eclipse to be a naff film. I understand the superficial appeal to the proceedings, the idea of having two good looking guys fighting over one girl clearly has it's charms. Especially if one is doing the James Dean thing while the other is cut and exotic. But the problem I still have with this film is quite simple. You have to like the lovers in order to care for the plight. Not only must you like them, you have to believe the love. I may have said this before about New Moon before but if the franchise wants to regurgitate the same old arguments, then I'm sure I can too.

The film consistently, nay incessantly talks about choices and decisions throughout it's running time, unfortunately it doesn't get that the choice would be interesting if the protagonists choice was difficult. The problem is, looks aside, I see no point in Bella's relationship with Edward. Eclipse tells us that being a vampire is shit, like fucking awful. It's nothing but pain, loss and longing. The vampires themselves are cold, emotionless and devoid of personality (they also have stilted dialogue and stiff acting issues) and yet Bella (an utterly selfish cow who really has it in for her loving dad) believes this is the life for her. The character of Edward doesn't help matters, he's still manipulative, possessive and mopey. In real life, this guy would have had a restraining order, in the movie world he's the main prize...such is life. With this said, Bella is an ignorant tease that doesn't seem to register (read care) that all the casualties and pain that occurs in this saga is down to her. The script may have dialogue that allude to idea that she gets it, but her blank facial expressions (great acting Miss Stewart) say otherwise. With characters so selfish and annoying maybe they are right for each other.

I've mentioned the emotional disconnect the vampires have to fans who merely point out: "they're supposed to be like that" so I ask myself why should a emotional teenage girl want this so much? Especially when the girls other choice is so perfect? The character of Jacob is a tragic one (although not as bad as the long suffering father) because not only is he perfect, everything he does has no consequence. A passionate kiss between him and Bella should spark a hint of change and highlight the difficulty of the situation, but does nothing of the sort. This seems to be explained way by the fact that she is "drawn" to him. That's it. No need for Edward to have any other positive aspects of character when girls are just drawn to you. Such a stupid deux ex like trait makes the idea of the love triangle more than a little ridiculous. it's certainly unbalanced.

There are good points. David Slade, director behind the vicious vamp piece 30 days of night, does well with the film's action. He does enough to distract the viewer from the terrible CGI and gives a nice PG-13 battle to awaken any poor boyfriends who have been dragged by their significant others. He also does his best to add one or two interesting visuals, but this is merely a passing fancy as just like the franchise's previous directors (Catherine Hardwicke, Chris Weitz) he doesn't do much to place his own stamp on the film. Another element of interest is Taylor Lautner who does his best to inject energy into his performance. He is far more watchable than the apathetic performances from everyone else. However this is a film franchise that shoehorns Anna Kendrick (who was superb in Up in the air) into two or three bland scenes. The same goes for the needless cast change of Bryce Dallas Howard. I understand that she is better known than Rachelle Lefevre, but if your going to "upgrade" your actors....give them something to do.

I know this will fall on deaf fan girl ears, but please understand that I have tried with this. Three films in and these people are still recycling the same two conversations as before. From the eye candy aspect, I get it. Two attractive men. Enjoy it while it lasts. I'll wait for them to take up interesting, serious future projects like Leo did.