Vampire Series Starting to Suck Less
By Kristen Page-Kirby
I hated the first “Twilight” movie. And I hated “New Moon.” And having to get from Annapolis to the Uptown theater in D.C. by 7:30 for a screening didn’t make me very inclined to like “Eclipse.” But I can tell you this: The movies are getting better.
Not GOOD. But better.
The third movie in the series, “Eclipse” has two main themes: First, an army of “newborns,” or the newly vampiric, is storming around Seattle causing various forms of mayhem. Second, Bella (Kristen Stewart) is still being pulled between glittery vampire Edward (Robert Pattinson) and chiseled werewolf Jacob (Taylor Lautner.) Neither of these stories is very interesting. Characters talk about vampires and talk about feelings and talk and talk and talk and for the love of all that is holy, will something please kill something else?
There’s also tension in Bella and Edward’s relationship, as she would very much like to sleep with him, and he’d very much like to avoid that—in the first two movies, this is because he’s afraid he will kill her, but in this movie there’s a weird form of chivalry thrown in, because Edward comes from an earlier time. He gives a swoony speech about an era when things were “less complicated,” when he would court her and she would remain “pure.” You know, the time when a woman’s highest aspiration to be a bride and every bride’s greatest asset was her virginity. Yes, Edward. That was definitely better. Let’s go back then! That’s way better than voting!
I’m sorry. I’m getting both sarcastic and off-track.
So. Jacob is making his play for Bella, and it’s awkward, and Edward is pushing for Bella to marry him. And all this time there’s high school graduation to deal with, plus the aforementioned army of vampires who are, of course, coming to destroy all of Edward’s family, plus Bella.
I’ve shredded the two previous “Twilight” movies (I’ve never read the books) because of what I feel are dangerous messages to send to the teenage girls that make up the bulk of the army called “Twihards,” and I won’t go over them again. I will say that things are slightly less angering in “Eclipse.” Both Jacob and Edward refuse to respect Bella as an individual—when she disagrees with one or both of them, their word is final. The only way a non-supernatural woman can help out in battle is to martyr herself—though there are many butt-kicking female vampires and one female werewolf, which is certainly a step up.
The three lead actors have grown into their roles, particularly Stewart. She’s acquired a nice sense of comedic timing (as do Pattinson and Lautner, to a lesser extent) and a scene where she and her dad (Billy Burke) have a version of The Talk is particularly funny. Pattinson has learned to tone down the I am Tortured Vampire Hear Me Whine shtick, and, while Lautner can’t quite handle the dramatic scenes, he does well whenever he and Pattinson get into a supernatural, um, stick-measuring contest.
As for objectionable material, there are some steamy makeout sessions, including one where Bella pressures Edward to have sex. Lautner (and the other members of the wolf pack) appears often with his shirt off. There’s lots of violence with no blood (vampires shatter like plaster of Paris, apparently), including one fairly graphic mauling and one instance when a child vampire is killed while adults stand by. So that’s fun. In telling the backstories of some of the vampires, it’s revealed that one of Edward’s family is a rape victim—though you only see some groping and not the act itself.
The major problem in “Eclipse” is that there’s far too much time spent talking and not enough spent doing anything. The fight scenes are done well but are too short, meaning you spend a lot of time watching a fuse burn and not enough time enjoying the bang.
Kristen Page-Kirby last reviewed “The A-Team.”
Feel like avoiding the crowds at the theater? “Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief” is out on DVD this week.