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TWILIGHT SAGA, THE: ECLIPSE

As her graduation approaches, Bella (Kristen Stewart) struggles with Edward’s (Robert Pattinson) compromise of marrying him before he agrees to change her into a vampire - and her friendship with Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner). Meanwhile, the Newborn Army (comprising newly turned vampires with an uncontrollable lust for blood) is coming to Forks, led by the pawn Riley (Xavier Samuel). Are they a tool of Victoria (Bryce Dallas Howard) in her pursuit of vengeance or of the Volturi, making sure Bella follows through on her intention to become immortal? The Cullens and Wolf Pack have to put aside their instinctive conflict and form an alliance to protect Bella and the community.

Review by Louise Keller:
The fire in Bella’s (Kristen Stewart) heart is the driver of this third Twilight chapter in which the scales of love tip back and forth between vampire and wolf. Much better than the second film, although not as complete as the first, Eclipse offers a smorgasbord of experiences: old fashioned romance being top of the list, followed by action and bloodlust. Without doubt it is the humour in the scenes about the rivalry between Edward (Robert Pattinson) and Jacob (Taylor Lautner) that are the film’s highlight – it’s not easy to top a line like ‘I’m hotter than you’, when a freezing Bella has an option of shivering in the snow beside a bloodless vampire or cuddling up to a warm wolf.

The narrative about the upcoming storm (literal and metaphorical) in which danger lurks as an army of bloodthirsty newly converted vampires threaten Bella’s safety, is handled melodramatically by director David Slade, and at times the film drags instead of building in tension. But the faults are forgiven, largely due to the inspired reality created from Stephanie Myers’ source material and the intense performances from the charismatic central trio.

After a brief prologue, the adventure begins beyond the dense forests, in exquisite fields of purple and yellow flowers, where Edward, perfect white skin shimmering in the sunlight with specks of gold, is whispering sweet nothings into the ear of the all-attentive Bella (Kristen Stewart). There are tight close ups and plenty of smooching. Bella and Jacob share a kiss too – when the chill in the mountains counters the passion. (Imagine poor Edward, being able to read Jacob’s thoughts!) Lautner has stronger presence this time, seemingly to match his bulging pecs and impressive physique. The first (of many) time(s) he appears bare-chested, Edward wryly asks ‘Doesn’t he have a shirt?’ prompting Bella to declare herself to be ‘Switzerland’ in the relationship between her two beaux.

Implied speed is effectively used as the vampires and wolves form a pact to protect Bella and the make-up and production design is faultless. But it is not the technology, stunning locations or editing techniques that we remember, it is the tantalising relationships and the romantic notion of following tradition, promising eternal love and protecting the soul that affects us where it matters most.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
It all comes majestically together in this the third of an enigmatic, other worldly love marathon that milks all its romantic possibilities to the full. There is something for everyone, though, with its three key protagonists representing humans, vampires and werewolves, all natural enemies that distrust outsiders, ready to fight to the death for their ancient conflicts with any tools and means at their disposal - including CGI.

With her graduation approaching, the story picks up the love triangle where we left off in New Moon; Bella (Kristen Stewart) is growing increasingly fond of the hot blooded, torso-boy Jacob (Taylor Lautner). Eclipse again puts Bella in danger, this time from the Newborn Army – recently turned vampires with an unquenchable appetite for blood and heightened powers. Generated and led by Victoria (Bryce Dallas Howard), they begin their death spree in Seattle, but the Cullens sense their coming to Forks – prompting the formation of a strained and unexpected alliance with the wolf pack.

The reason is simple revenge: Victoria wants to avenge the death of her lover at Edward’s (Robert Pattinson) hands. Bella’s death would give Edward the same terrible pain she had felt. When Jacob learns that Bella is in grave danger, he agrees to the fighting alliance.

This sets up yet more layers of tension between Bella, Edward and Jacob – who insists on meeting them with his shirt off, much to Edward’s irritation, and the jubilation of the women at the preview screening.

David Slade directs this threequel with the sumptuous tone of an epic, sprinkled with humour; he has cinematographer Javier Aguirresarobe give us lots of close ups of those expensive and adored faces as they struggle with their emotions: Edward torn between the prospect of marriage to Bella but anxious to protect her from her own determination to become a vampire; Jacob with his deep commitment to Bella; and Bella somehow loving both men … or whatever they are. But we also have the spectacle of massive mountain ranges, forests, fields and valleys, the camera swooping over them as they fill with Howard Shore’s huge orchestral score, almost lifting us out of seats.

As in both previous films, the fight stunts are superbly staged and shot, with a little help from high end digital software, each one an engrossing affair as human forms fight giant wild wolves and the strength of the vampires defies gravity.

All the supporting vampires and wolves are splendid and exotic, ranging from the psychopathic Riley (Xavier Samuel) who is Victoria’s secret puppet, to the gothic and deadly Jane (Dakota Fanning). Billy Burke is reliably and reassuringly human as Charlie the cop of Forks and Bella’s caring, worried, single dad, and Ashley Greene is stylish as Alice Cullen.

The screenplay offers a well judged balance between action – which is always driven by well-defined imperatives – and communication. Relationships drive the whole story. The scenes where Edward and Bella discuss her future, and the scenes where she explains in full the reasons for her choice, are some of the most edgy and tantalising in the film, fur-flying action notwithstanding.

These scenes, far from being breaks between the heavy stunts, serve to ground the film and the characters in a reality we can access – yes, a reality populated by characters who are seemingly alien to our world, but in fact are very much a part of it, if you see the vampires and wolf-men to be symbols of different races or cultures. Or different families. All very recognisable, despite their physiques or their ability to trap the thoughts of others.

Eclipse is satisfying in its resolution, too, which is not always a foregone conclusion. We get our money’s worth.
Published first in the Sun-Herald

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 2
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0



TWILIGHT SAGA, THE: ECLIPSE (M)
(US, 2010)

CAST: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Ashley Greene, Bryce Dallas Howard, Billy Burke, Peter Facinelli, Nikki Reed, Kellan Lutz, Jackson Rathbone, Anna Kendrick, Dakota Fanning

PRODUCER: Wyck Godfrey, Greg Mooradian, Karen Rosenfelt

DIRECTOR: David Slade

SCRIPT: Melissa Rosenberg (Novel by Stephanie Meyer)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Javier Aguirresarobe

EDITOR: Art Jones, Nancy Richardson

MUSIC: Howard Shore

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Paul D. Austerberry

RUNNING TIME: 121 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Hoyts

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: July 1, 2010







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