Synopsis: As a string of mysterious killings grips Seattle, Bella, whose high school graduation is fast approaching, is forced to choose between her love for vampire Edward and her friendship with werewolf Jacob.
Why We're Excited: Eclipse the third film in the Twilight saga, is directed by David Slade, who also brought us 30 Days of Night and Hard Candy. It will be great to see how he brings some of that dark edge to this story as the stakes are raised again for Bella and Edward. Also, in New Moon, the real action began once the Volturi entered the picture. We’re looking forward to the major fight scenes that will certainly have some cool effects.
Why We're Not: Bryce Dallas Howard replaced Rachelle Lefevre as Victoria in this film due to “scheduling conflicts.” Twi-hards have been following LeFevre for two films, and now that it’s time for the real showdown to begin, we hope Bryce can seamlessly step into the part.
That shouldn't come as a surprise to the series' diehard fans (known as 'Twi-hards' by some), who relate to brooding high schooler Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) and envy her romantic conundrum: She can choose to give up her human life and marry old vampire Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson), or commit herself to young man-wolf Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner). Two different guys, from different races, pining for Bella with their hearts on their sleeves -- or in Jacob's case, on his biceps, as the fella never wears a shirt. What'll it be ladies, the intense, pale-looking skinny dude or the brown, buff musclehead? Deal with it, guys; this setup is many a woman's dream.
Director David Slade (30 Days of Night) steps in for New Moon's Chris Weitz, but there's not much discernible difference between the films. That can be good or bad depending on your taste for talk. Bella's intimate conversations with her individual beaus are chock full of chatter, and like Weitz, Slad doesn't rush the moment. That's great, considering your typical teen movie is much quicker these days. But sadly, the words pouring out of the kids' mouths -- via writer Melissa Rosenberg's pen -- is predictable fluff.
String enough of those scenes together and even the softest-hearted preteen is bound to get bored. Did Slade have the latitude to speed up the proceedings, offering an edit here and there? It would've helped.
If you're a 14-year-old girl, you can probably deal. The proclamations of love leap right out of a romance novel (or Meyer's series), with innocence and sacrifice professed in fields of wildflowers, spoken bare-chested amidst mountain ranges. Add a little danger, in the form of a marauding bunch of vampires called "newborns," and the higher stakes make all that love feel desperate. If teen romance turns drama into melodrama, then the added gravity here turns this melodrama into camp.
The main trio of actors is to be commended for delivering the marshmallow dialogue with the right sticky-sweet flavor. They provide just enough breathless puppy love to make the young girls gasp, and enough feigned interest to make the older folks laugh. At them, not with them.
But what else can the cast do? Early in the film, Rosenberg's script is peppered with references to earlier films, with lame lines like "Yeah, I remember that." or "You mean like the last time?" Younger audience members squeal with delight to be part of the joke, but the rest of the screenplay doesn't get much more mature than that. Lines like that aren't easy to pull off, though Lautner seems to have it down.
I don't know what the later Twilight novels bring (forgive me), but I'd like to see a film that delivers meaningful commentary on race and destiny, an epic romance tinged with a loss of identity, capped off by a large-scale, full-blown, mind-reading supernatural war. Or, Bella and Edward can just make goo-goo eyes at each other.