Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (2010) - Lingering Gazes Among the Flowers

Imax poster for Twilight Saga: Eclipse 2010
"The Twilight Saga: Eclipse" (2010).

Once again, Summit Entertainment was in such a rush to get out the next installment of "Twilight" - "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse" (2010) - in order to capture the fickle public mood that it brought in a new director, David Slade (he of cult vampire flick "30 Days of Night"). The funny thing is that Slade had gone on the record previously denigrating the whole Twilight series, saying he'd rather be shot than watch it. However, when offered the chance to direct, suddenly his previous comments were just him "being silly" and none of it was "from the heart" and he was "honored."  He wound up doing a fine job with "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse." Just one of those insights into what the insiders really think about these types of films that the public loves today but may forget tomorrow.

Bryce Dallas Howard preparing to bite in Twilight Saga: Eclipse 2010
This, actually, some would say, is the high point of "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse." Dallas Bryce Howard goes to work.

This time around, things get very dark. Vampire Victoria (Bryce Dallas Howard) is still burning with revenge over the death of her love James at the hand of Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson). She sets out to assemble an army of vampires to take down Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart), biting Riley Biers (Xavier Samuel) as the first baby step.

Edward and Bella among the flowers in Twilight Saga: Eclipse 2010
"I promise to love you for every moment forever." Well, better ask Meatloaf about promises like that.

Edward refuses to turn Bella into a vampire herself until they are married. He warns her about Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner) and his werewolf pack (who hate vampires), but she sees him and he forcefully kisses her, causing her to strike him and break her hand. This annoys Edward, who confronts Jacob. Ultimately, Jacob apologizes, and she forgives him. There's a romantic triangle brewing there.

Edward and Bella having a discussion in Twilight Saga: Eclipse 2010
Edward is much paler in this film than the first "Twilight."

Edward and Jacob also settle their differences, and the Cullens and the wolfpack form an alliance against Victoria's growing army. As Bella interacts more with vampires like Jasper (Jackson Rathbone), she warms to the idea of marrying Edward and agrees to the idea. This annoys Jacob, but Bella kisses him and makes it all better. Now Bella is in love with two men, but more so with Edward.

Bella and Edward lying amongst the flowers in Twilight Saga: Eclipse 2010
Edward and Bella have a moment.

Victoria attacks, and Edward kills her while another vampire kills Riley. Victoria's army is defeated, and the Volturi show up to help out. Bella reveals that the date of her wedding has been set, and Jacob manfully steps aside.

Edward and Bella at the police station in Twilight Saga: Eclipse 2010
Edward and Bella have another moment. In fact, they have a whole heaping lot of moments in "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse."

What passes for controversy in the Twilight camp occurred with the surprise re-casting of Victoria, previously played by Rachelle Lefevre, with Ron Howard's daughter, Bryce Dallas Howard. Lefevre, who at 30 was one of the oldest in the main cast (folks, this is "Twilight"), was not happy:
I was stunned by Summit's decision to recast the role of Victoria for Eclipse. I was fully committed to the Twilight saga, and to the portrayal of Victoria. I turned down several other film opportunities and, in accordance with my contractual rights, accepted only roles that would involve very short shooting schedules.
Summit claimed it recast the role because of a scheduling issue However, Lefevre disputed that account. The rumor is that it was a salary issue - Howard was cheaper. Who knows?

Bryce Dallas Howard Twilight Saga: Eclipse 2010
Bryce Dallas Howard as Victoria in "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse."

Apparently, Dallas was the original choice for the role of Victoria, but turned down the part - or so the story goes. This is not as farfetched as it sounds, because Dallas has established something of a reputation since for being quite picky about her roles. The chance to play a good death scene must have had her "biting." She is a good addition, and there are other reasons to like "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse" aside from that. The "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse" soundtrack listing was unveiled on Myspace, which then was on its last legs but still as popular as Facebook, and promptly went to #2.

Jodelle Ferland in Twilight Saga: Eclipse 2010
A bit player in "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse," but I love that look. Kind of like what a human squirrel would look like. You know, in a good way, it's not easy to look like a human squirrel.

In a cute touch, the premiere was scheduled to coincide with a lunar eclipse in June 2010, and the film opened in 4416 theaters - a massive opening that suggested the producers wanted to make a quick buck but weren't too certain if the film had "legs."  As usual for the Twilight series, the film set box office records. It barely beat out its predecessor, "The Twilight Saga: New Moon," with $300 million in domestic grosses, though it did slightly worse overseas. The bottom line is, it made a ton of money - as each film in the series has done. Quibbling over which beat which is kind of silly when they do that kind of business.

The Cullen boys in Twilight Saga: Eclipse 2010
Acting in "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse" is a bit stiff.

"The Twilight Saga: Eclipse" pleased the fans, which is what counts. The leads are all the same and do basically the same acting, with the characters more involved with each other and sorting out their feelings than going out and intervening in the world at large. Some might find it a bit talky, as the three main characters go back and forth about how much they love each other, but others find that charming and the best part of the series.

Edward and Bella with mountsins behind them in Twilight Saga: Eclipse 2010
If you're wondering why I put so many shots like this in the review, with Bella gazing romantically at someone - see "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse" and maybe you'll understand.

Make no mistake, "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse" is not high art. It is a service for the masses who want a little love and romance in their lives, even just vicariously. Watching pretty people do pretty things while being mysterious turns some folks on, enough to make this series hugely successful. That the love is "forbidden" and "dangerous" and requires "sacrifice" and "commitment" in order to be with that pretty person, well, the old saw is that the forbidden fruit is always the tastiest.

Ashley Greene as Alice Cullen in Twilight Saga: Eclipse 2010
Ashley Greene, my personal favorite in "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse," returns as Edward's sister.

Howard and Anna Kendrick, as Jessica, are the real acting standouts. The film seems to get new energy each time they appear. Fans probably won't care much, as they are bit players, but others will appreciate their occasional scenes. The real drama surrounds Bella and who she will choose, Edward or Jacob. That is all played out with exquisite finesse, and everything is handled very tidily and politely by pretty people doing pretty things.

Dakota Fanning as Jane in Twilight Saga: Eclipse 2010
I bet Dakota Fanning screamed with laughter when she saw how far down in the credits she was placed.  But for a pretty teen actress in 2010, "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse" was the Woodstock of acting, you were either in The Twilight Saga or nowhere, man.

This is the film that gets a lot of ribbing for the "long gazes" the three leads give to each other. The two men spend a lot of time giving deep, meaningful looks at Bella to show how much they really, really love her. If you aren't into the film, it can seem rather cheesy. If you empathize with Bella, or wish you, too, could become a vampire's consort, or have two hunks lusting and fighting over you, or just like to be the center of everyone's drama, well, that will make you enjoy this film all the more. There is an awful lot of lazing about in scenic open fields with daffodils and paint-by-numbers pretty mountain ranges in the background.

Dakota Fanning as Jane in Twilight Saga: Eclipse 2010
"That ain't no way to treat a lady la la la la...."

The one caveat I have about recommending this film is that parts of it, especially the beginning, will make no sense unless you have seen the prior two films, "Twilight" and "The Twilight Saga: New Moon". If you have seen them or are up to date with the book series, this is a worthy successor that should satisfy your Twilight craving until you get a chance to see The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 and The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2.


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