STAFF REVIEW OF “THE TWILIGHT SAGA: ECLIPSE”

The third time’s a charm for The Twilight Saga – they absolutely nailed it with this installment!! This is, by far, the best one yet! I want Summit to go back and redo “Twilight” with either David Slade or Chris Weitz at the helm to bring it up to par with the last two films.

When David Slade was named as director for this film, I was among the faithful fans who feared that this would be another “30 Days of Night” filled with gore. Fear not, he found a beautiful balance between the romance and the vampire threat. He was absolutely an amazing choice to direct this film.

I’ll go through key elements and try to refrain from too many spoilers, but I can’t guarantee that I won’t throw one or two in here. Consider yourself warned!

Dialogue/Script:

One of my biggest complaints about the first film is the lack of meaningful dialogue. The script for “Eclipse” is infinitely better. There is more dialogue and less awkward moments among the characters. Moviegoers who have not read the books will not be left wondering WTF during a scene. There is some great witty banter between the characters and some good snarky lines from all of them.

The script keeps things true to the book with some minor deviations for theatrical effect and to condense things for the time constraint. The scenes and dialogue that veer from the books do not take anything away from canon, nor are they out of character like the infamous spider monkey line from the first film.

It is evident that a great amount of attention was given to plot development and character development by both the actors and the director. Not only did they focus on what the characters should be doing, but the why aspect of it as well.

Acting

Once again, I noticed that the acting has gotten better. As with “New Moon”, I think that the director deserves a lot of credit for the improvements.

Rob as Edward – Rob seems to be much more relaxed and comfortable with Edward now – much more so than in the first movie. I honestly think that a lot of the bad rap that he got from the first film had to do with Catherine Hardwicke’s interpretation of how he should have looked/felt and it was just off IMHO. Edward is much more relaxed around Bella .

Kristen as Bella – Like with Rob, Kristen is really coming into her own as Bella. Having had more time to study the books and talk to Stephenie about what’s going on with Bella, she brings a more realistic portrayal to the screen.

Taylor as Jacob - He was fantastic in “New Moon” and delivered a great performance again in “Eclipse”. There were many times that the emotions were so very raw and palpable that this Team Edward fan really felt his heartache.

Billy Burke as Charlie- I have loved Billy Burke as Charlie since the first film when he cocked that shotgun before meeting Edward. He has some amazing moments in this installment in dealing with his daughter growing up and graduating – some might bring a tear to your eye while others will make you laugh (particularly the sex talk with Bella).

Jackson as Jasper – Seeing Jackson play out Jasper’s story was awesome and he actually spoke with a drawl this time, which is something that was overlooked in the first film. I loved seeing him channel Major Jasper Whitlock during the fight training scenes!

Bryce as Victoria – Bless her heart, I don’t want to criticize her for having the role after Summit let Rachelle go, but I missed Rachelle. She was able to carry some scenes, but the final battle with Edward just didn’t do it for me. I can’t really put my finger on exactly what didn’t work for me – maybe it was the voice or a certain look. She wasn’t bad, but she wasn’t Rachelle.

Xavier as Riley – I thought that he did a great job as Victoria’s lackey. His longest scene is his opening scene, and it’s a good one.

Nikki as Rosalie – We finally get to hear more than two or three sentences from Rosalie’s character this time and Nikki does a good job of telling Rosalie’s story to Bella. She balances the wistful longing for a child and the picture-perfect marriage and watching grandchildren play with telling Bella that she’s choosing wrong.

Gil Birmingham as Billy – I thought that Gil was a bit cheesy in the first film, particularly in the first few scenes with the “I’m down with the kids” and the “Just keepin’ it real, son” comments. This time, he commands the respect as the leader of the Quileute tribe with the telling of the legends at the bonfire and his worry over Jacob after the newborn battle. This is the Billy Black that we should have seen in the first film.

The Wolves – Julia Jones does an amazing job as Leah Clearwater. She’s got the anger down to a tee. Well done! Boo Boo Stewart is adorable as Seth. I’m looking forward to seeing him in the next two films because I’m a huge fan of Seth Clearwater!

The Cullens – We get to see more of all of the Cullens this time around but still in small bites (no pun intended). Kellan as Emmett is great – especially in the fight training scenes and when he teases Bella as Carlisle is tending to her hurt hand. Elizabeth Reaser has a bit more dialogue this time around as Esme. I hate that she just fades into the background so much. I’d love to see more of Esme and I hope that they work to make that happen in “Breaking Dawn”. Ashley does a great job with Alice once again, having several visions throughout the film.  As always, Peter Facinelli does a great job playing Dr. Cullen and I loved seeing Carlisle in the fight scenes.

The Volturi – Dakota Fanning does a great job once again as the demented Jane. There’s not a whole lot of Volturi action in the film, but Jane is at the forefront of those scenes.

The Humans – Anna Kendrick is really the only one who has much to do or say this time around as the class valedictorian at graduation. She is consistent with her previous portrayals of Jessica. She doesn’t really have a shining moment like she did in “New Moon” with her rant outside the movie theater, though.

Miscellaneous

The cinematography is amazing!!! David Slade’s creative side certainly shines in the images that fans are treated to on the screen. The shots of the mountains are absolutely breathtaking! He uses lots of close-ups on the actors. I thought that it would be weird, but I found that it really helped deliver the emotion so much better. I actually liked it.

The scenes in the meadow are absolutely stunning! This is how the meadow should have looked in the first film. We’ve all seen stills and they just do not do what shows up in the film justice.

Will guys like it? I honestly believe that they will. The fight scenes were well-done and not cheesy.  The action is quick and at times it’s difficult to tell which vampire is which.  Some people will complain about it, but they’re vampires and everything should be a blur to human eyes watching it go down.  There were a few slightly gory elements when the newborns and Victoria are slaughtered that will appeal to them. Seeing the out-of-control newborns wreak havoc on Seattle was pretty cool.

My favorite moments

  • The proposal (*swoon*)
  • The scene that follows Bella punching Jacob
  • The tent scene
  • Charlie and Bella’s sex talk (LMAO!)
  • The scene where Riley steals Bella’s shirt (You will understand when you see it! This has David Slade’s touch all over it! )

I don’t think that there’s anything that I didn’t like, although I’m still on the high from the midnight showing and all of the energy in that theater. The only thing that stood out and bugged me were the mountains in the background during Jasper’s story of being changed near Galveston. Sorry, but there are no mountains near Galveston, Texas!  Maybe after a few more viewings, there might be something that really annoys me. As I left the theater to go home, all I could hear around me was “This is the best one!”, “It was so awesome!” and other things along that same sentiment.

As I drove home last night, I was already thinking of how I can’t wait for the DVD to be released so that I could see what didn’t make it into the film.

What did you think of the film?  Feel free to comment on this review or submit your own in the forum.