"Twilight: Eclipse" is everything you'd expect from the third installment of the vampire-werewolf love triangle.
For those willfully ignorant of the "Twilight" phenomenon, the film finds Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) caught in a romantic tug-of-war between Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson), a brooding, pasty vampire, and Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner), a smoldering, shirtless hunk of werewolf. And while all this is going on, some mysterious force is marshaling an army to hunt down Bella. Trying to avoid spoiling the plot seems silly when you consider that 97% of the people who will see this have already read the book, but still, we have standards.
The film's major success, and likely the secret to its popularity within a certain demographic, is that it captures perfectly how self-absorbed and melodramatic teenagers are. For generations, parents have been deflecting their children's complaints with declarations/warnings that your teens are the best years of your life. "Eclipse" is an unwavering reminder that the opposite is true.
"I love you!" "Kiss me!" "Marry me!" "Change me!""You have feelings for me!" "I've always felt different..."
Good lord, it's exhausting.
Making all the angst even more painful is how long and drawn out each encounter is. The pacing is glacial until the very end, when we have to resolve all these things we've been talking about (in very earnest tones).
Still, on the rare occasions when the movie and the kids stop taking themselves so seriously, there are some genuinely funny and entertaining moments. And there are interesting storylines -- like how Jasper and Rosalie each became vampires -- buried beneath the mountain of longing that dominates the film. But we're never really allowed to get invested in them, because heaven forbid we spend one more minute away from Bella and Jacob and Edward.
Having seen Stewart in "Welcome to the Rileys," in which she plays a foul-mouthed teenage hooker in New Orleans, one has to wonder how much more of Bella the poor woman's career can take. She's made a staggering 14 films since 2007, and yet it's only getting harder and harder for her to get out from under "Twilight's" shadow. With the franchise steadily constricting her audience, this "Saga" can't end soon enough for the sake of her career.
As for her co-stars Pattinson and Lautner, it's almost impossible to imagine them sticking around in the zeitgeist much beyond "Twilight." Even without the make-up, Pattinson is kinda weird looking, somewhat flat in his delivery and struggles to suppress his English accent.
Lautner, for his part, is positively wooden, despite an easy smile. He is the very essence of mimbo. Keep his shirt off and his mouth closed and everything is fine, but it's hard to make career out of such roles. Who knows, maybe "Stretch Armstrong" will prove to be a wildly successful franchise.
The film has other issues as well: the music is wretched; there's some sloppy, artless camera work; the end result of the battle at the end is implausible -- even for a movie about vampires and werewolves.
But let's give the film it's due, the "Twi-Hards" -- who made up a large part of the audience -- clearly loved "Eclipse," applauding the opening credits and then cheering and sighing right up to the very end.