Movie Review: “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse”

I don’t quite fit the definition of a “Twihard”, a person completely obsessed with all things “Twilight”, but I have read all the books and have seen the first two movies multiple times apiece. “Eclipse” is the third film in the series so far. I saw it at the theatre with a friend and her mom the day after its premiere.
Caution: it is possible that those not familiar with the books may consider some of the material below to be spoilers.
Some background story: Bella is a teenager who has moved to the small town of Forks, Washington to live with her father, the local sheriff. In high school, Bella meets and falls for an intoxicating classmate named Edward Cullen, who is actually a vampire forever stuck at the age of 17. Edward has four teenaged “siblings” and foster “parents” who are also all vampires. They are able to co-exist with the townsfolk because they are “vegetarians”, meaning they feed on wild animals rather than people. Unfortunately, other vampires, including a redhead named Victoria, remain “carnivores” and cause a great deal of trouble for the Cullen clan, Bella, and any human who frequents the woods alone. Jacob lives on a nearby reservation and is the son of a long-time friend of Bella’s dad. Jacob becomes Bella’s best friend and potential rival for her affection, and if this weren’t complicated enough, Jacob is a werewolf, a natural enemy of vampires.
Female readers of the books and viewers of the movies tend to choose sides between Bella’s love interests, thus we have “Team Edward” and “Team Jacob”. My viewing companions were both Team Edward. Now, while I find the actor who portrays Jacob to be the most physically attractive, when it comes to the story line, I am Camp “Bella, Make Up Your Mind”.
“Eclipse” opens with some grisly goings-on in Seattle. People are disappearing at a terrifying rate, causing the media and law enforcement to wonder if they are beset by gangs or an extremely prolific serial killer. The answer is Victoria, who is creating “newborn” vampires to form an army to wipe out the Cullen clan, who were responsible for the demise of her lover when he attacked Bella. She also has her sights set on killing Bella. Newborn vampires, for the first few months of their existence, have no control over their thirst for human blood and are faster and stronger than the average vampire.
Bella has her own problems on the home front. When the Volturi, an ancient group in Italy that are the equivalent of the royal family of the vampire world, found out that Edward had a human girlfriend who was immune to their powers of mind-reading and psychic torture, they decreed that Bella must be become a vampire, or they will destroy Edward. Bella is willing to make the transformation, a little too willing perhaps because she doesn’t want to become an old woman in love with a perpetual teen, but Edward wants to postpone it as long as possible.
Also dead set against Bella becoming a vampire is Jacob. He appeals to Bella’s deep friendship for him, arguing that she can remain mortal and live a nearly normal life if she chooses him. Normal, of course, is a relative term when one has the ability to transform into a massive wolf.
And so the rivalry is on. Bella wants the friendship with Jacob AND the intense love affair with Edward, and it’s all she can do to keep them from ripping each other to shreds. But a truce is called in the face of a common enemy: Victoria and her army.
What’s at stake is not just Bella’s life, but those of the people of Forks and surrounding areas such as the reservation. The Cullens are skilled fighters but are outnumbered, so Jacob gathers the others in his tribe who are part of his werewolf pack, and the two forces grudgingly work together to figure out how to destroy the newborn vampires.
“Eclipse” improves upon the previous two movies in a few ways. There is much more meaningful dialogue and fewer prolonged brooding stares. There is a lovely scene in which Edward explains how, when he was mortal in the early 1900’s, he would have courted Bella in the manner considered proper at the time. Also, the fight sequences are more convincing in this film. When a vampire is vanquished, they break into pieces like crumbling marble. The wolves look so lifelike that Bella appears to be ruffling Jacob’s fur when he is in wolf form.
One caution for those prone to motion sickness: you might want to sit at the back of the theatre. The vampire movements are so rapid that they are a blur at times. I was in the very back row and still found the vampire/wolf fight to be a bit disorienting.
A theme that runs deep in “Eclipse” is that of mortality and whether Bella is really mature enough (she is 18 in this story) to understand what she will give up if she becomes a vampire. Edward tries to nudge her into thinking more carefully about it by having her visit her mother in Florida. Bella realizes that once she is transformed, she won’t be able to see her parents anymore. She also finds out from a couple of the Cullens (via some excellent flashbacks) what their experiences were with becoming a vampire and how neither of them would have chosen to become one.
Another issue that develops is the physical relationship between Bella and Edward. Bella is willing to throw herself at Edward, but he wants to wait until marriage. Bella’s father senses that she may have become intimate with Edward and makes an extremely clumsy attempt at a “birds and the bees” talk, which is funny and sweet.
“Eclipse” is rated PG-13, which is appropriate. While it is not gory (vampires don’t bleed), it is violent, and there is one scene involving a child vampire that some could find disturbing. There are no overt sex scenes, but there is a fair amount of kissing and some discussion of sex. Parents should consider their own child’s maturity level if they are under age 13. If they read the book and were okay with it, the movie probably won’t be too much for them.
While it is rare for a sequel to be better than the original, I did find this movie to be the best of the three so far. The actors seem to have improved, and the effects blend in more realistically. We are also more invested in the characters as Bella moves toward adulthood and toward irreversible life-altering, even life-ending, decisions.
Whether you’re Team Edward, Team Jacob or just want Bella to decide already, go see “Eclipse”.
Submitted by: Karen Brauer,, © 2010
Karen has been writing for for many years. Her movie and book reviews are always descriptive and honest. She has a keen eye for pointing out what might be useful to a viewer/reader that might have certain disabilities, or sensitivities.