It seems like every Twilight film is content with retelling the same story over and over again. Bella continues to struggle with her mixed feelings between Edward and Jacob, the vampires and werewolves resume their centuries-old feud, and rogue villains from all over the globe are marking Bella for death. In the Twilight saga, every character either loves her or wants to kill her. With her constant, monotonic, depressing voiceover narrations, unenthusiastic performances, and the permanent glower etched on her simple face, audiences presumably feel the same way.Eclipse starts where the previous film left off, in a romantic, sunny, flowery field where human high-schooler Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) professes her love to glistening vampire Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson), but still refuses to marry him. Her goal is to be turned into a vampire, and he promises the transformation after her fast-approaching graduation. Meanwhile, a bizarre string of murders in Seattle is making headlines and attracting attention from the vampire world leader coven, known as the Volturi, whose decisions are being secretly made by the merciless child Jane (Dakota Fanning). A recently created faction of “newborn” vampires are behind the vicious killings, and as they make their way toward Bella, the mortal enemies of werewolves and vampires must form an uneasy alliance to protect her from multiple forces of evil.
The drama is getting slightly more mature, despite still being riddled with jokes, and the love triangle is becoming increasingly more interesting. Jacob (Taylor Lautner), Bella’s werewolf friend, is madly in love and commences his endeavors to steal her away from Edward, creating most of the humorous and occasionally melodramatic jousting between the two rivals. Bella seems intent on positioning herself in the middle of the two, delighting in the opportunity to strike up controversial gasps from viewers and straining the awkward truces that coincidentally fashion between the competitors.
Even though director David Slade has experience with vampires (he manned the much bloodier 30 Days of Night), the restrictions of following the novels and the previous films still prevents any of the otherworldly creatures from appearing breathtaking. The sparkling skin, speedy flights through the woods, and superhuman jumps deserve all the eye rolls and sighs they receive, unable to quell the silliness that has plagued the special effects since the beginning. Eclipse also introduces flashbacks to build histories for supporting characters Jasper and Rosalie; unnecessarily and unconvincingly, considering the ill use of period piece settings and costumes – an idea appropriate for the books but completely pointless for the film. The dialogue hasn’t graduated from amateurish, the laughably serious demeanor of every vampire is unfortunately droll, the CG werewolves aren’t persuasively thrilling and the final battle training sequence is downright puerile. Taylor Lautner does prance around topless for the majority of his screentime, however, which for many is the major appeal of the series (“Doesn’t he own a shirt?” scoffs Edward, most appropriately).
– Mike Massie