By: Addison Wylie
It’s that time of the year again. That time that we, the oh-so demanding people, receive another Twilight film. Being a guy who has never read any of Stephanie Myers’ work and learning about Twilight through the internet, the films, and through my wonderful Fiancee, there seems to be a lot going on in these books. However, based on the films, I don’t think I’d be interested in this written saga. Sure, I’d give them a try but, like the movies, I think I would have a hard time keeping my eyes open. I want to give you, the readers, a quick rundown of the track record these movies have had with me. In 2008, we had Twilight. A movie that had one of the slowest second acts I’ve ever witnessed and, overall, I wasn’t crazy on it at first. However, when viewing it on Blu-Ray, the film ripened and I quite enjoyed it. Then, in 2009, we had the second installment, New Moon. A movie that had a longer runtime as well as a much slower pace featuring scenes and characters that weren’t developed enough for me to care. It was terribly hard to pay attention during the drab scenes of monotonous dialogue as well as the underwhelming scenes of so-called action. I haven’t given it a second chance on Blu-Ray due to not having a lot of time but I do plan to, even though it was torture the first time. We now have the third installment titled Eclipse. This time, we have yet another director at the reigns. With the director switch and more developed scenes and characters, Eclipse is a step-up from New Moon but not by much.
The film leaves off where the second one cut off abruptly. Bella, played by Kristen Stewart, and Edward, played by Robert Pattinson, have rekindled and are ready to escalate their relationship. With talks of marriage, things seems much better than how they were. However, Jacob, played by Taylor “No Shirt, No Shoes, All Service” Lautner, is still having problems dealing with the fact that the two are together; not knowing that they are considering marriage. However, things take an even steeper, dangerous route for Jacob as well as Bella and Edward when the return of a darker Vampire, Victoria, played by Bryce Dallas Howard, is still out for Bella’s blood after Edward had killed off Victoria’s lover. In order to fully execute her plot, Victoria has arranged an evil Vampire army involving premature vampires called Newborns. With the Newborns on their way to wreck havoc in Bella’s town of Forks, the werewolves and the vampires must bond as one team in order to fend off the depraved clan, even though the tension is thicker than even between Jacob and Edward.
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Unlike New Moon, the film does have memorable good points. The director, David Slade, who has previously directed such films as 30 Days of Night and Hard Candy, adds his own spin on the darker chapter. Using a mix of handheld and stationary cinematography as well as using a darker colour palette, Slade sets an ominous tone to the film and let’s the viewers know instantly they are in for a much more thrilling viewing experience. Slade isn’t afraid to show Newborns acting wicked and causing harm to those around them. This not only adds a much more hostile tone but the films feels much more mature than the last Twilight outing. Slade treats the film as adult drama fare and doesn’t dumb the film down in order to play to a much younger audience. He knows his target audience and he knows those fans are getting older so why not make the medium grow up as well. The action scenes are better choreographed and filled with suspense. When the fight scenes finally arrive where the werewolves and vampires are facing off with the Newborns, the audience is fully involved with the scene. The film doesn’t fall into a trap of showing the fights too close but frenetic camera movements and edits are used in order to keep that balance of thrills while making the scene easy to comprehend.
I was also really surprised with some of the writing. My big gripe with these films is with the script not having enough depth or characterization so I was mighty perplexed to see scenes here they gave more backstory to most of these characters. Screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg offers interesting insight into the lives of vampires Rosalie, played by Nikki Reed, and Jasper, played by Jackson Rathbone. Taking the audience to distinctive time periods, points are explained concerning why Rosalie has been closed off and quiet in the past two films and why Jasper is absolutely head-over-heels for his love, Alice, played by Ashley Greene. These flashbacks never feel gratuitous and they never feel as if the film needed padding to stretch the movie out. The costumes and acting are very convincing and this is another point where the audience is sucked in. There are a couple of good scenes of dialogue and chemistry such as a scene between Edward and Jacob on a mountaintop. The emoting which Pattinson and Lautner exchange in this particular scene feels authentic; one of the most memorable scenes in the movie.
With all the good points aside, the franchise still makes a lot of bad decisions. As much as Slade has raised the bar with this film, he could’ve used a little more rehearsal time with the actors because the acting feels wooden, aside from those previously mentioned scenes. It also doesn’t help that the dialogue is utterly inane and stripped of all it’s emotion. Those long scenes of dialogue between Bella and Edward are cringe-worthy and bland. I know these two are supposed to be head-over-heels for each other but they could at least act it. Not to be over critical but, at this point, you could cast robots made out of cardboard boxes and the film wouldn’t feel different in those scenes. I also still find Dakota Fanning incredibly dull as Jane. It’s as if she’s suffering from Mace Windu syndrome in these Twilight movies; the producers and director have casted her and they decide to do nothing with her. Lautner has grown as an actor but not by much. I also find these films too long and they take the long road in order to explain something. It may be like this in the book series but when adapting a written work to the big screen, there must be changes made in order to hold an audience’s attention. You either get rid of some scenes or make those scenes more gripping and exciting. I’m leaning towards those scenes finding a home on the cutting room floor.
I hate to describe the movie in this way but, if you look at the poster, you’ll know exactly what the movie is made up of; Sulky teens brooding in front of a darker backdrop. That said though, the film is heading in the right direction in order to make the final chapter of this series memorable. By making the story, the characters, and the film overall more mature to match it’s demographic, the film ends up being a wee bit better. When the next chapter, Breaking Dawn, comes out and if the script flaws have been tweaked as well as some of the line readings being fine tuned, the audience might finally get that stellar Twilight movie these fans deserve.