Wednesday, July 07, 2010

TWILIGHT SAGA: ECLIPSE - Less Anaemic Than New Moon

TWILIGHT SAGA: ECLIPSE (romantic fantasy)
Cast: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Ashley Greene, Peter Facinelli, Jackson Rathbone, Elizabeth Reaser, Nikki Reed, Kellan Lutz and Dakota Fanning
Director: David Slade
Screenplay: Melissa Rosenberg
Time: 124 mins
Rating: * * 1/2 (out of 4)

Lautner, Stewart and Pattinson

PREAMBLE: I'll get right to the point: Eclipse is a better movie than the disaster that was New Moon and the introductory Twilight. The performances, especially that of protagonist Kristen Stewart, have improved somewhat, and there is more action and tension, making Part Three less anaemic that its predecessors.

But Eclipse is far from being the epic romance hit that it strives to be. At the core of the movie is the love triangle (or messy romantic tangle) among Bella Swan (Stewart), Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) and Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner) and this is where the problem lies. As the centre of the triangle, and indeed the whole movie, Stewart is emotionally vapid and detached. Those who have read the book may read more in her portrayal, but she fails to get our sympathy and, worse, we don't feel that she is really in any danger - except from her own self.

WHAT IS IT ABOUT? Edward proposes to Bella but she is hesitant, apparently still thinking of Jacob who believes he is the one for her. Besides this soap opera (devised by author Stephenie Meyer), we are told that Bella's life is in danger and she is in need of much protection, ostensibly against an army of 'newborn vampires' sent by the vengeful Victoria (now played by Bryce Dallas Howard). Victoria wants revenge on the Cullens and Bella for the death her lover James (in the first film).

And guess what? Not only the vampires of the town of Forks team up to protect her, but the werewolves, led by Jacob, also volunteer to take part in the battle against Victoria's minions. And yes, there's the Volturi, led by Jane (Dakota Fanning), that does nothing much other than watch and talk in riddles.

HITS & MISSES: It is understandable that director David Slade tries his utmost to please the legions of Twilight fans in the audience - the screaming young girls who swoon at every kiss between Edward and Bella, delight in the sight of a shirtless Lautner (pic), and get excited over stolen embraces between Bella and Jacob. Those who are not Twilight fans, however, would be wondering what sort of tramp Bella is, wanting to have her (beef) cake and eat it? She just reminds us of the spoilt brat who courts trouble wherever she goes.

Still, Spade conjures some rivetting moments out of the love tangle: I like the well-written tent scene where Edward has to give in to Jacob for the sake of Bella; the graduation speech by Oscar nominee Anna Kendrick; and Billy Burke's Charlie who agonises over his daughter's romantic exploits. Also, we laugh when we hear Edward asking if Jacob even owns a shirt.

The blood-sucking and conversion sequences, and the battle scenes (against the newborns) are nothing to shout about. They only seem to offer a balance between action and the dialogue sequences, although we would be wondering what happens to the clothes when the native boys become wolves. Fanning and most of the additional cast are wasted. With many such shows around, the vampire-werewolf novelty of the Twilight franchise is wearing off.

THE LOWDOWN: An improved version but not that compelling a sequel.


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