Twilight Eclipse
Is Kristen getting smaller or are Robert and Taylor getting bigger?

Theatrical Release Date: 06/30/2010
Director: David Slade
Cast: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Xavier Samuel, Billy Burke, Bryce Dallas Howard, Nikki Reed, Jackson Rathbone, Kellan Lutz, Peter Facinelli, Elizabeth Reaser, Ashley Greene

OK, so Twilight season came a bit early this year, but don’t worry- I was there to watch it again so you don’t have to! You are either going to be there at midnight on Tuesday or you are not going to step within a fifty foot radius of a theater screening the film for the next few months no matter what I say. That is why I have given all of the films an average rating (that and fear of being stalked by angry Twilight moms- they are scary!).

I do have an opinion about them, however. As someone who read and admittedly enjoyed the books, here is a recap of my views on the films:

- The first movie pissed me off. It was cheap and poorly done. The acting, screenplay, and effects were awkward and rushed.

- The second movie was dull, but so was the book. At least they cut out some of the more self-indulgent parts, so it was a marginal improvement from the first film in that regard.

So, now for “Eclipse”. In case you don’t have any teenage girls (or mothers of teenage girls) in your life, and have avoided all mainstream media, social networking sites, and Comic Con, here is a synopsis. Edward-the-sensitive-vampire-boy (Robert Pattinson) and Bella-the-awkward-yet-inexplicably-alluring-human-girl (Kristen Stewart) are still going strong in the town of Forks, Washington. As their relationship progresses, so does the tension between Edward and Jacob-the-werewolf-boy-with-a-six-pack (Taylor Lautner). As a result, Bella is forced to confront her feelings and make a choice, regardless of the consequences. Life is so difficult sometimes.

Oh yeah, and a bunch of vampires threaten to overrun Forks and kill everyone. Again.

I have to say this film is a little better than the first two. The effects are much better than the first film. The werewolf CGI is better than the last film, and the speedy vampire run is improved as well. The fight scenes are silly, and the sparkling effect is still lame, but I know better than to expect too much. The plot is better than the second film, as “Eclipse” was a stronger book than “New Moon”. The choices they made to cut down and rearrange the source material to fit the time constraints made sense and didn’t detract from the story too much. In fact, at 124 minutes of run time, they could have cut more.

Whether it was better direction, her experience filming “The Runaways”, or electroshock therapy, something has broken Stewart of the penchant for tossing her hair and biting her lip, which forces her to try a bit harder to actually act. All of the performances are a little better; after two movies most of the characters are finally starting to warm up to their roles, although most still have a ways to go. None of the leads live up to the emotional intensity of the books, but after the last film, I’m glad they stopped trying. The “human” cast members still manage to turn in effective performances, and Bryce Dallas Howard does a decent job stepping into the role of Victoria (Rachelle Lefevre in the first two installments).

I still wouldn’t recommend this to anyone that wasn’t going to see it anyway, but for what it’s worth, “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse” is the best film to date from the franchise. I can think of a million better ways to spend a Saturday night, but at least I was much less inclined to scratch my own eyes out halfway through the film than I had been on previous occasions. I suppose that’s progress – a 3 out of 5.