Probably as good as any movie can be while still being based on a novel by Stephenie Meyer, Eclipse continues the mopey bestselling saga of sparkly vampires, shirtless werewolves and a cloyingly vapid heroine who makes Carrie Bradshaw seem generous and self-aware. The new addition here is directorial competence, something the first two features sorely lacked. Also, some shit actually happens in this one.
Director David Slade previously helmed Hard Candy and the very different vampire picture 30 Days of Night , two extremely well-made movies that I still didn’t like very much. He’s got visual chops to burn, shooting Robert Pattinson’s fey dreamboat Edward and Kristen Stewart’s petulant twit Bella in romanticized widescreen closeups. There’s Twilight ’s usual Mormon-y abstinence: Bella wants it bad, but Edward insists on waiting until marriage, because consummating their love will cause her to lose her soul and become a monster. Wicked subtle, Steph.
She also keeps teasing Taylor Lautner’s sad-sack wolf-boy Jacob, who repeatedly insists that Bella secretly loves him, showing the same steadfastness in his resolve to never wear a fucking shirt.
Luckily for us, there’s a rogue pack of flesh-eaters tearing up the Pacific Northwest. Eclipse picks up some steam when it strays from the Hot Topic angst and charts an uneasy alliance between vampires and werewolves against a common enemy, digressing for some nifty flashback histories of side characters that expand the series’ scope considerably beyond the usual teeny- bopper belly-button lint. There’s a knowing, tiny turn by Stewart’s Runaways ’ bandmate Dakota Fanning as Darth Vader by way of Bette Davis, and the climactic battle sequence is gratifyingly nasty.
But in the end it’s still a Twilight movie, which means queasy sexual politics, rancid dialogue and terrible lead performances. At this point, Stewart looks so bored by this entire endeavor that I couldn’t help bursting into giggles whenever she’s nuzzled by a gigantic CGI wolf and half-assedly mutters, “What’s up, Jake?”