Werewolves, Newborns and Vampires. Oh my. The second to last of The Twilight Saga, “Eclipse,” is jam packed with supernatural creatures, a revenge plot, a love triangle and teen angst. At a solid two hours it’s filled to over flowing with the deep dark gothic romance that made these movies a must see for every teenager on the planet. It’s also the most cinematically satisfying installment of the franchise so far.
Love is complicated but particularly when you are a human in love with a vampire and a werewolf. Part three of the saga finds Bela (Kristen Stewart) forced to make a decision between her love for Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) and her deep friendship—and possibly love—for Jacob. Meanwhile the flame haired vampire Victoria wants to avenge the death of her lover James at the hands of Edward, so she puts together a vicious army of newborn vampires to seek out and destroy not only the Cullen family, but Bela as well. War is waged, declarations of love are made and the climax is something the Twihards have been anticipating for some time.
Unlike Harry Potter, another teen oriented literary adaptation, the Twilight story is mostly self contained—there is a back story, but the movies pretty much stand on their own. There are some odd moments and a reference or two to the Volturi that might leave non-Twihards scratching their heads but then again, very few of the unfaithful will probably ever see this movie.
Like Harry Potter, Twilight begins and ends with its characters and luckily for us the characters are evolving as the story continues. Not to worry Twihards, brooding is still the main sentiment on display, but for the first time Edward and Jacob make self aware jokes! As Bela and Eddie approach a half naked Jacob the vampire says, “Doesn’t he own a shirt?” OK, it’s not a great joke, but given the amount of press Taylor Lautner’s abs gets, it raises a smile. Later when Jacob throws down the double entendre, “Let’s face it, I’m hotter than you,” Team Edward may not laugh, but it is a funny line.
The guys may have lightened up a tad, but Bela still embodies the spirit of the Twilight story. When she says, “I’ve always felt out of step,” she’s speaking for every teenager in the theatre suffering from a bad case of the terrible teens. That one line explains much of the popularity of these stories. Teens, and in some cases people who remember what it was like being a teen, know how raging hormones can make you feel misunderstood, like an outsider. It’s one of the keys to the success of the series; it understands its audience.
It is also one of the few teen oriented films with a prudish attitude toward sex and sexuality. It’s about romance, and something else you don’t hear about very often these days, chastity. Turns out Edward is old fashioned, which I guess comes with being over one hundred years old, and refuses to have sex with Bela before marriage. It’s too late for his soul, he says, but he can protect hers by NOT taking her virtue. It’s a quaint idea, one probably more at home in a Victorian novel than a popular 21st century entertainment, but it strengthens the romance aspect of the story.
“The Twilight Saga: Eclipse” is a bit talky—these characters talk about everything before they actually act—but nonetheless is the near perfect mix of teen angst, romance and crazy supernatural action.