In The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, the third chapter in Stephenie Meyer's phenomenally successful series, Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) once again finds herself surrounded by danger as Seattle is ravaged by a string of mysterious killings and a malicious vampire continues her quest for revenge. In the midst of it all, she is forced to choose between her love for Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) and her friendship with Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner)—knowing that her decision has the potential to ignite the ageless struggle between vampire and werewolf. With her graduation quickly approaching, Bella is confronted with the most important decision of her life.
While most of her high school friends are receiving college acceptances and sending graduation announcements, Bella is making a decision so she can be with her love Edward always. But, she is struggling with Edward's compromise (that she marry him before he agrees to be the one to change her into a vampire) and the consequences that these choices will bring to herself, her family, and her friends.
Meanwhile… a war is coming. By playing with the blind spots in the Cullen Family's mystical gifts, an unexplained force has created a Newborn Army—made up of the newly turned vampires whose strength, viciousness, and uncontrollable blood-lust is at its greatest in the first months of supernatural life. Are they a tool of Victoria (Bryce Dallas Howard) in her singleminded pursuit of vengeance, or of the all-powerful Volturi, making sure that Bella follows through on her intention to become immortal?
As the Newborn Army, led by the pawn Riley (Xavier Samuel), makes its way towards Forks and the Quileute lands, the Cullens and Wolf Pack must choose to put aside their instinctual conflict and form an alliance to protect Bella and their community from a larger threat. As they prepare for battle, Bella learns more about the secret history of the Quileute tribe, the growing Wolf Pack, and the origins of Jasper and Rosalie. This knowledge will help her understand the bonds formed by the wolves, recognize her love for Jacob Black, and contribute to the protection of those she loves.
Little known fun fact: in some parts of the world, 'The Twilight Saga: Eclipse' has the foretelling title of 'Twilight: Hesitation.' Fitting. So very, very fitting. If you're a red blooded male, even the promise of post-torture coitus (and love bites) may still make you hesitate noticeably when asked to watch this movie with your significant other. You are not the target audience. You will never be the target audience: you're not a teenage female who has never read or watched any of the entries of classic vampire lore. So ask yourself: is it worth it? Like that old joke about gnawing your own arm off so as to not wake up an unwanted morning "visitor," you may find yourself trying to leave any pinned body part behind to escape this experience, and hope that your attempts at escape aren't noticed (future practicality of the loss of said limb be damned).
I'm not at all sorry if my above generalities are met with skepticism, or the protests of a poor smattering of misled males who obviously have worse tastes than your average Carls Jr. menu. I'm also not sorry if I offend the adult female fans of this book and film series. I don't care, and I never will. 'Twilight' and its sequels are the first step towards 'Idiocracy.'
The first two films really didn't try. They even bother with credibility, employing Chris Weitz (the uncredited brother of the 'American Pie' director Paul, and the credited co-director (again with his bro) of the brilliant 'About a Boy!') and Catherine Hardwicke (director of the amazing 'Thirteen' and little else of value) to provide their lack of visual flair to a film series needing to bring something to the table for all the guys stuck in the audience, who had not yet discovered the inner strength to bite through their shoulders and escape. They were fan service, and nothing more, pumped out in rapid succession to cash in while the money was still up for the taking. With 'Eclipse,' the 'Twilight' series got its first real director, David Slade, who hasn't made a lot of films, but the ones he has done all bring great tautness and believable, personal angles to the mix.
While the film would still retain all the weaknesses of the first two entries, in terms of acting and dialogue, the question now would be whether Slade could make this film series watchable, or if the aimless indecision would bring down the man responsible for 'Hard Candy.'
Graduation approaches, and with that, so does the eventual day that Edward (Robert Pattinson, 'Remember Me') turns his girlfriend Bella (Kristen Stewart, 'Adventureland') into a bloodsucking vampire, a thought that the pair are still at odds with each other over. Jacob (Taylor Llama/Lautner, 'The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl') still pines over Bella, and it's obvious to everyone that his life's entire focus centers around the girl who won't even give him the time of day. And he's a werewolf.
When a string of disappearances and murders in Seattle attract the attention of the Volturi, the Cullen clan have to find a way to work together with the werewolf clan that loathes their very existence in order to survive. Victoria (Bryce Dallas Howard, 'The Lady in the Water') has created a newborn army, and plans to use them to get revenge against Edward, seeking to murder his love the same way Edward murdered hers.
Let's get two things out of the way: this is easily the best film in the series so far, and it still stinks.
The action sequences are performed in a manner that blows any "action" from previous entries out of the water, and are shown in a manner that's coherent and actually quite enjoyable. That's about the nicest thing I can say. Even the action has its moments where eyes must roll, like the injuries vampires take. Limbs just cracking off, really? That's hardly entertaining, and certainly doesn't help us empathize or relate. Worst yet, this is a film where no "main character" really faces any true dilemma or difficulty in said action sequences. Edward is forced into a two on one fight, but we know how that will turn out, especially since we know both he and Bella will survive. Who else would lead in 'Breaking Dawn?'
The killer isn't the side plots, as the scenes with Victoria are actually well done this time (whereas in 'New Moon,' she seemed like the artifact of a deleted scene or seven), with her growing army (Team Victoria....wait...) making for some entertaining scenes. She also gives us something to relate to, with her quest for vengeance this time encompassing even her minions, with the former Forks resident Riley (Xavier Samuel) acting like a surrogate beau, of sorts, as long as it's convenient. This is where the plot comes together, as the powerful Volturi are monitoring (note: not really stepping in, which doesn't make much sense) the growing attention the newborn vampires are getting, and the Cullens want the Volturi around as much as they want to take a physical.
The killer, sadly, is the ever-annoying love triangle between Edward, Bella, and Jacob. It's not fun to watch Bella whine and whine about wanting Edward to turn her, and watching her constantly make what can be considered the less safe choice. It's also ridiculous that her love options are both supernatural, and can both kill at a moment's notice. We really can't relate to any of these three characters. The scenarios they get into (such as Bella being forced to spend more time with Jacob by her father, or being forced to cuddle up to shirtless boy Jacob while Edward looks on. It's downright creepy as we hear talk of Bella confessing to being a virgin, and in the very next scene, practically beg to have Edward sink something other than his fangs into her. The constant proposals? Annoying, at best. I literally developed an eye twitch when the final proposal was shown on screen (though I swear it did not affect my grading of the video!), and that's not sarcasm.
'Eclipse' may have had the best chance of being a good film out of this entire series of five films. It had a simple enough premise, lots of intrigue, and plenty of carnage. There should have been a darker, bleaker outlook, or, heaven forbid, some actual humans looking for what they think is a serial killer, but no. Instead we get numerous scenes laying around in fields full of purple gardens, as a sparkly vampire and a woman one twentieth his age frolic. This is a noticeable improvement over the previous film, but it's still a bloody mess, without much blood shown at all.
The Disc: Vital Stats
'The Twilight Saga: Eclipse' comes to Blu-ray in two fashions: on a "movie only" single disc version, or a DVD/Blu-ray flipper disc, that comes loaded with special features not found on the one disc version. There is no annoying pre-menu jibber jabber, thankfully.
'The Twilight Saga: Eclipse' doesn't look bad on Blu-ray.
'The Twilight Saga: Eclipse' doesn't look phenomenal on Blu-ray.
It's somewhere in between, closer to the latter than the former, with a 1080p AVC MPEG-4 encode providing some uneven moments, with unusually high peaks, yet some below sea level valleys waiting to be flooded. The opening is sharp, and enjoyable, with some fairly decent black levels, but they're by far the least consistent element of the transfer. Blacks are just all over the place, crushing randomly, showing up too bright, then too dark, then just perfect, and back through the list. We can see Bella's nostril forest on a few occasions, so it has that going for it... Skin tones are an impossible read, due to the intended ashen look of the undead, on top of the heat permeating the Native Americans, and the ghastly never-saw-the-sun appearance of Bella. On the bright side, Indians were never pale, and vampires were never all that rosy, so it seems the job was done proper.
Textures can be flat at times, but when they're on top of their game, they're spectacular, providing amazing realism and life to skin, fabric, and even foliage. Edges are sharp and untampered, allowing hair to pop. Special effects still blur, and often times don't fit in with the rest of the film, but that's a matter of budget and quality rather than a bump against the actual transfer. It's pretty sad to see the stairstepping on the 'Eclipse' logo at the start, like it were made small and then blown up, creating a blocky circle, but it does speak volumes for the lack of cutting edge visual work employed in the film. As a whole, the film looks good, and the strengths do outweigh the weaknesses easily. Just be prepared for some ugly shots.
The third 'Twilight' film is presented with a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix that starts with a bang, and slowly just falls into mediocrity. Rear channels are engaged early with great rain effects, and some solid bass presence, but as the film progressed, bass slowly gave way to tons of melodramatic treble, giving the film very little in the cajones department. Room dynamics are hit or miss, with some scenes feeling a little hollow, while surround activity to match on screen presence is also a toss up. The rears do get some random atmosphere, and plenty of (awful) music, so they're not a total loss. Dialogue is clear, which is one of those good-bad things. Really, all this is is a serviceable track that starts strong and confident, chest held high, but as it goes on, it gives way to slouching and eventually ass-dragging.
The DVD releases of 'Eclipse' mirrors, in a sense, the Blu-ray versions, with super skimped and loaded editions, and nothing in between.
The first portion hits on director David Slade. It's kinda insulting hearing the actors talk about his approach, then the blight known as Meyer mumbles about his work on the essential high art form known as music videos. Anyways, Slade is an amazingly interesting listen, a pretty talented director, and a very bald guy.
Pre-production is up next, and has the cast talking about the physical preparations for the film, training and roughhousing. I will leave the crude, immature comments for another time, but yeah, this is some lame, boring stuff. It's fun to perform these types of activities. It's not fun to watch others do it. Eventually, we get to see set construction/alteration, along with prop design. Fun stuff. Part three is "the heart of Eclipse," which means the themes. Themes just didn't sound cool enough. Anyways, the love "triangle" is heavily focussed on, followed by a focus on background characters of Jasper and Rosalie.
The dark side of Eclipse features Victoria and her character arc, "newborns," and some more of the themes of the film. Really didn't need its own chapter break...Lights, camera, action covers, you guessed it, filming the movie. Lautner shows more talent catching things with his mouth than he does acting (at this point, that's not even sarcasm), and we get to see and hear about random anecdotes. This one is quite the long one, and is loaded to the brim with footage that makes for serious spoilers, if you haven't seen the film first.
Post-production: leaps in technology has some pretty awkward looks at the special effects, and they are talked up so much, but damn if they don't seem like they're really just ghetto looking. I'm sorry, but if you know a single thing about modern film technology, this one can get rather insulting. To a twelve year old girl, it may seem riveting. Take that as you will.
I'm no fan of the 'Twilight' series (obvious, right?), and I have yet to be truly entertained by one of the films in it. That said, this one came awful close. A little more action, more time spent with the bad guys, and a lot less teenage yearning would have made this an enjoyable film. Instead, well, you know what you'll get here. This Blu-ray release has good, but not great audio and video, and quite a bit of added content for the tweener in your household to obsess over. Still, I hate to say this, but it's... worth... a... look. With some deals making even the extras-laden disc more than affordable, this makes for an easy gift to the lady in your life.