Friday, January 28, 2011

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse

Directed by David Slade.
2010. Rated PG-13, 124 minutes.
Kristen Stewart
Robert Pattinson
Taylor Lautner
Billy Burke
Bryce Dallas Howard
Peter Facinelli
Anna Kendrick
Xavier Samuel
Dakota Fanning
Michael Welch
Jackson Rathbone

Ashley Greene
Gil Birmingham

This entire series gives me cause to rant. For three movies now, I’ve had to endure whiny, annoying, sexually frustrated teenagers say “woe, is me” and take two full hours to say it, each time. What am I gonna do, not watch them? The women in my house eat this stuff up. “The women” consists of my two pre-teen daughters and my wife who is…um…not a pre-teen. I think she’ll be okay with that.

Anyhoo, before I go too far off the deep end, let me give the particulars for those of you who’ve been living under a rock. Human girl Bella (Stewart) is still trying mightily to get into vampire Edward’s (Pattinson) pants. He’s an old-fashioned sort, maybe because he’s over 100 years old, but whatever. He asks her to marry him roughly every five minutes. Somehow, she thinks that’s too big a commitment but begs him to either take her virginity or change her into a vampire for all eternity. He agrees to do the latter after Bella’s high school graduation, but only on the condition she marry him, of course. Even though she’s ready to become one of the undead, she’s not as sure about the marriage thing because she also has strong feelings for werewolf Jacob (Lautner). Jacob spends all his energy trying to lure Bella away by badmouthing Edward and standing around with no shirt on. Like Edward, he makes jealous. He makes me seriously consider dropping twenty bucks on a Shake-Weight I’ll probably never use.

Oh yeah, there’s lots of action this time around. That’s because Victoria (Howard) is still pissed about ther boyfriend getting killed in the first movie and is organizing an army of
”newborns” to go after Bella. Normally, something like that would be a spoiler, but its painfully obvious from very early on. What’s laughable is that they try to hide it for quite some time as if we ever doubted her involvement. By the way, “newborns” are those newly transformed into vampires.

Much has been written about how The Twilight Saga is merely a Mormon plea for pre-marital abstinence. I’ve no problem with that, the vampire is a great choice to build such a metaphor. However, our creature of the night is completely neutered. Being a vampire, like many view having sex for the first time, should be both a blessing and a curse. Sure, they have immense power, but their weaknesses should be huge detriments. I imagine the author believes sex before marriage to be a sin, a black mark on one’s soul. There’s also the possibility of unwanted pregnancy and disease. All of thes could be perfectly manifested in the horrific things vampires must do to survive and the simple fact that daylight is fatal to them.

There is no real downside to being a vampire in this series. In this world, vampires are only killed by others like them. They can learn to survive without having to pose a threat to humans, and daylight doesn’t kill them. It makes them sparkle like a diamond, but causes no physical discomfort. The only drawback, should you avoid being killed by other bloodsuckers, is you’ll live forever and get bored from time to time, repeat high school and move every few years. That’s it? Sign me up, now!

Let’s back up a bit to the whole daylight thing. Not only would its deadliness to vampires have helped the abstinence purpose, it’s a key component in the mythology of such creatures. Starting with the first movie, this franchise stomps that tradition into the ground. In this installment, they drive a wooden stake right through its proverbial heart. They don’t even pretend the sun even matters. What used to be a full-on shine is now looks more like someone across the room trying to get their watch to reflect off them. It’s so faint, it’s hardly noticeable. There are multiple scenes of vampires standing around, or fighting, in wide open fields in the middle of the day. Bram Stoker is probably spinning in his grave.

You’re probably saying to yourself “I already know all that, how’s the movie?” That depends. If you’re a fan of the franchise then you’ll be very pleased. If not, maybe. A huge point in Eclipse’s favor is that it is far less depressing than its predecessor, New Moon. That one was a full-on mope-fest seemingly designed to inspire millions of young girls to leap untethered from the nearest tall building, on top of being dumb. At least, this is just dumb. I will say this: the scenes which all three participants in our love triangle share are actually fun in a morbid, so bad it’s awesome sort of way. The dialogue is beyond trite, but it is contentious. It helps that the possibility of an all-out brawl erupting feels high. In addition, the action I mentioned earlier kicks thins up a notch. Granted, it looks kind of hoke with vampires breaking like porcelain, but at least something is happening. Sue me, or just never forgive, but because of these things and expecting to see the worst movie ever made, I actually kinda-sorta enjoyed it. For my money, it’s the best of a very bad trilogy.

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