No Total Eclipse of the Heart

The third Twilight continues its lackluster love triangle

The world of cinema has supplied us with some amazing female characters: Dorothy braving the yellow brick road; Sarah Connor firing her guns against judgment day; Erin Brockovich succeeding as both single mother and community activist. Unfortunately for the Twilight Saga, Bella Swan doesn’t fit on such a list. She’s dull, indecisive and consumed with a crush on a vampire who claims he devotes his life to protecting her, but in reality needs a hefty restraining order.

In The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, Bella (Kristen Stewart) is faced with a dilemma: Will she choose Edward Cullen (the hair-tastic Robert Pattinson) or Jacob Black (the six-packed Taylor Lautner)? This lovey-dovey conflict comes to its highest climax so far in this third installment of the series.

While Edward and Jacob brood over who loves Bella best, a vampire army led by a fiery, revengeful vamp Victoria (Bryce Dallas Howard replacing Rachelle Lefevre) is planning to kill Bella. Victoria creates new vampires—Newbies—who are superhuman and dangerously strong. To fend them off, the Cullens and wolf tribes suck up their longtime rivalry and work together in order to keep Bella alive.

Yet Bella doesn’t really care about being alive. She yearns to be bitten and initiated into the Cullen family. But Jacob begs her to be with him, for he has warm skin and a beating heart: “You wouldn’t have to change who you are for me,” Jacob pleads. These exchanges would mean something if any of them were able to formulate some plausible thoughts with emotive expression. Unfortunately, not one second was I convinced that what they felt toward each other was love, especially considering, at one point, Edward disables Bella’s truck so she can’t leave home. No, that’s not love. That’s criminal.

Miraculously, our so-called heroine is given a few moments to figure herself out. One such moment includes a heart-to-heart with her mother, who is concerned that Bella’s relationship with Edward is overly close. But this speech is overshadowed as Edward looms in the background, watching—“protecting.” Bella’s mother, for the few minutes she was present, is a highlight in the movie, as is a graduation speech about being young and alive, which clearly never registered with our lust-lorn heroine because she can’t seem to see past all of Edward’s sparkles.

When Edward and Jacob aren’t playing tug-o-war with Bella, the movie actually succeeds in creating some suspense and thrills. Director David Slade (30 Days of Night) finally makes the action sequences believable—they don’t look like pale people swinging from cables anymore. However, Slade could’ve given audiences more fright and a bit of gore, because the buildup to the battle nearly eclipsed the actual battle sequences.

Although the incessant, never-moving-forward love triangle gets the most attention, there is a glimmer of a real story. The wolfpack gets some time to shine around a campfire as the tribe’s chief tells us why wolves and vampires can’t seem to get along. On the other hand, there’s the Volturi—led by Jane (Dakota Fanning)—who are crudely cunning and apathetic toward their own vampire kind. If only this got more screen time than the staring contests between Bella, Edward and Jacob.

Screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg did the best she could with the material at hand. I respect the humor she tried to bring between the main characters. Sadly, the laughs that escape aren’t exactly intentional. Whether it’s Jacob’s washboard abs, Edward’s permanently furrowed brow or Bella’s inability to make a decent decision for herself, it’s almost impossible to take this movie seriously. Surely, the self-proclaimed Twi-Hards and Twi-Moms will love it, but these movies are to them what Edward is to Bella: a massive, high school crush … with a possible criminal record. Good luck to everybody else.

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse ★☆☆☆☆

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