Eclipse – Movie Review
Whether you've read Stephanie Meyer's blockbuster book series or not, it's nearly impossible to ignore the phenomena of the film adaptations of the "Twilight" saga. The latest – and third – movie in the series is probably the most faithful adaptation of Meyer's best-selling novels.
But putting aside prejudices of the romantic soap operatic aspects of the story, the series is undeniably engaging. The Pacific Northwest setting is beautiful and awash in deep greens and blues, the cast is ethereally beautiful and Meyer – and screenwriter/adaptation writer Melissa Rosenberg – infuses enough twists in the traditional vampire myths to make it fresh.
To sum up, the first two films, "Twilight" and "New Moon" established the story of 17-year-old Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) who moves from the warm climes of Phoenix, where she lived with her mother and stepfather, to Forks, Washington where she moves in with her father, Charlie (Billy Burke), the town's Chief of Police. Bella, in her junior year in high school becomes reacquainted with her father's best friend Billy's (Gil Birmingham) son, Jacob (Taylor Lautner) and meets the mysteriously "gorgeous" Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson), thus creating the series' romantic triangle.
But it's not too much of a triangle, audiences learn in the second film, when Edward, revealed to be a vampire (and his "family" the "Olympic Coven") decides to leave Bella behind to save her soul. Fans of "New Moon" know that didn't work out well – at all, but it did cement the strong bond between Bella and shapeshifter/werewolf Jacob (the former is forced to admit she's also in love with Jake, but loves Edward "more.")
Bella ends up jetting off to Italy with Edward's psychic sister, Alice (the stunning Ashley Greene) to save Edward from instigating his own death at the hands of the vampire "royalty," the menacing Volturi (look for a particularly effectively creepy Michael Sheen). at the end of "New Moon" Edward sets a compromise for the chomping-at-the-bit to become a vampire Bella – she must marry him before he will "change" her.
"Eclipse" takes up several weeks after "New Moon," thus covering the high school graduation of Bella, Edward, Alice, Jasper (Alice's mate, played by Jackson Rathbone, who was one of the quartet of finalists to play the role of Edward), and their human classmates Angela (Christian Serratos), Eric (Justin Chon), pining-for-Bella-still Mike (Michael Welch) and class valedictorian and Bella "frenemy," Jessica (Anna Kendrick). but there's evil lurking. in the first film, the Cullen family is forced to dispatch a psychotic tracker vampire, James (Cag Gigandet) when he nearly kills (or changes) Bella. James' demise at the hands of the Cullens (and specifically Edward and Bella) made James' mate, Victoria (played in the first two films by Rachelle LaFevre, and in "Eclipse" by Bryce Dallas Howard) extremely angry. And Victoria's out for revenge. Serious revenge.
Juxtaposed against the romantic entanglement that still plagues Bella, Edward and Jacob is the extreme danger making its way to Forks – and Bella.
Much of Meyer's original novel is maintained, with a few exceptions. One major concession is that the author made the Native Americans, the Quilluete shapeshifter/wolves giant – the boys suddenly grow to 6"7 and taller.
Original "Twilight" director Catherine Hardwicke and screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg opted to merge the book's Jessica and Lauren characters together, as well as the Eric and Ben characters. One scene in the book that would've made for a cute scene in the film is when Bella encounters Jacob in wolf form and he licks her face, grossing out the Cullens (and seriously annoying Edward) but making wolf Jacob chuckle growl and Bella laugh out loud. The movie series does stick to the gloomy angst-y Bella and it would've been nice to see her relax and laugh for once.
That said, the special effects for the Quilluete wolf pack are terrific and care was made to designate the differences between the wolves (although there are far less in the film than in the books). This is, at its heart, a romance film, but one with a great deal of action. The preparation for battle scenes and the revelation of Jasper's and Rosalie Cullen's (Nikki Reed) pasts are wonderful. it is also a film appropriate for a wide-ranging audience.