Director: David Slade
Cast: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Bryce Dallas Howard, Billy Burke, Peter Facinelli, Xavier Samuel, Dakota Fanning
The amount of attention, both good and bad, that the Twilight saga has received over the years really amuses me. At the recent MTV Movie Awards, New Moon swept pretty much all the awards it was nominated for. When Anna Kendrick won Best Newcomer for Up In The Air, most pundits claimed that the fans who voted for her never saw that film, they just voted because she was in Twilight. Haha. And ultimately, the awards show became the Twilight show.
The fact is, the story of Twilight really isn't all bad. It's just that serious moviegoers i.e. people who prefer intellectually challenging films that win Oscars over summer popcorn flicks, love scoffing at the supposedly shallow love story between a lovesick teenage girl and a sparkling vampire. Fortunately I'm the kind of guy that can sit on the fence long enough to give it a fair trial. But to be honest, Twilight was way better than the emotionally bloated New Moon.
Anyways, let me recap. In New Moon, we learn that Jacob Black, Bella Swan's best friend is a werewolf who is in love with her. But she loves Edward the vampire, and she wants to be turned into a bloodsucker like him. Edward won't have it, but thanks to the Volturi, the royal vampire rulers who now know about Bella and her knowledge of their kind, the decision of changing her or not looms closer.
Now in Eclipse, the love triangle between Bella and her two suitors continues. Jacob desperately wants Bella to be with him instead so that she won't have to be a vampire. Edward himself doesn't want her to do it either, but she is insistent.
And then there's Victoria, the vampire who is still vengeful over her lover James' death at the hands of Edward and his family. She attacks and turns Riley, a young man into a vampire and uses him to turn others into vampires, thereby creating an army of newborns, all to assist her in taking revenge. The Cullens now have to team up with Jacob's pack to fight back and protect Bella at all costs.
David Slade, the man who gave us the dark and violent vampire flick 30 Days Of Night, directs this instalment. Since this is the Twilight films we're talking about, you can't expect him to put lots of gore here, but at the very least he gives us some nice action sequences that were sorely missing in New Moon. We get to see the Cullens train with each other in preparation for the newborns, which is fun to watch. The battle between the newborns and the Cullens and wolves at the end was also well shot, though in my opinion the fight was quite one-sided. I particularly liked the opening scene of the movie, which made it look like you were watching a horror film. Nicely done.
But still, we have to put up with the emotional drivel from the love triangle since it is the essence of the entire story, and that's when it gets dull. Stewart, Pattinson and Lautner have to bounce all that sappy love hate lines that make you cringe yet again, but thankfully it isn't as much as the last film. Pattinson actually finally gets to stretch his acting a bit in the scene where he confronts Victoria, even for just a moment. Other than that he's always brooding and moody. Stewart is still Stewart while Lautner gets to show some more of his emotional range, which I know a lot of people still can't appreciate.
The supporting cast again manages to lift the film more than the leads. Billy Burke gets to put in some humorous touches as Bella's dad, while Jackson Rathbone and Nikki Reed manage to get some sympathy for their characters as they explain how Jasper and Rosalie became vampires in the first place. Rathbone in particular gets more screen time as he trains the Cullens and wolves on how to handle the newborns. Unfortunately Bryce Dallas Howard isn't quite the right choice to step into Victoria's shoes. Unlike Rachel Lefevre from the first two films, Howard is a bit too polished and neat to play the wild eyed Victoria. Dakota Fanning returns as the Volturi member Jane, and manages to make her five minute screen time memorable.
On the whole, this instalment is better than the previous one. It's got some fascinating elements in the story this time, like a history lesson on Jacob's ancestors' first encounter with vampires, Edward and Jacob facing off, the aforementioned Jasper and Rosalie backstory and a poignant scene between Bella and her mother, which I think is a hundred times better than any of the Bella and Edward scenes in the film.
Not as good as Twilight, but better than New Moon. (4/5)