Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (2010, David Slade)

Who is Bella Swan, really? I’m not talking about the role she plays in the Twilight saga. What I’m asking is who she is when she’s alone. Does she have any hobbies? Does she keep a journal, or doodle in a sketch pad, or enjoy going to hear live music? I only ask because there doesn’t seem to be much to her, at least not in the movies (I haven’t read the books, so I couldn’t make a judgment on that front). Hell, even the memorably antisocial Travis Bickle watched TV and went to porn theatres. To these eyes, Twilight heroine and lip-biting enthusiast Bella is perhaps the least compelling protagonist in a Hollywood blockbuster in many a moon.

This isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker, of course- I mean, Keanu Reeves’ Neo didn’t have a whole lot going on in his life either. But despite being boring as ass, it seems like nearly everyone Bella meets in the Twilight series thinks that she’s totally awesome. Her gaggle of human friends seem to be constantly seeking approval from her even though she doesn’t really hang out with them outside of school, and not one but two supernatural hotties are practically at each others’ throats (literally) to win her heart. Almost the entire Cullen family falls for her instantly, and the one who doesn’t (Nikki Reed’s Rosalie) resents her because of her own personal issues. Similarly, the Quileute tribe practically takes her as one of their own, even making her the first outsider to attend a tribal council meeting. Hell, she’s the reason for the climactic battle in Eclipse. Yet Bella herself hardly seems worth the trouble, and this makes much of Eclipse, and the franchise as a whole, pretty hard for me to swallow.

Of course, this wouldn’t bother me so much if Eclipse gave me a little more to think about. Has anyone else noticed that this movie just kind of sits there, story-wise? I’m not talking about incident, since I suppose plenty of stuff happens in Eclipse. I’m talking about plot. As any decent writing teacher will tell you, plot doesn’t simply mean incident, but rather a series of incidents leading to change. At the end of the day, what changes occur in Eclipse? Not many. Sure, Bella finally says yes to Edward’s proposals of marriage, and Victoria gets killed in the final battle, but for the most part Eclipse is prolonged buildup to Breaking Dawn. It’s pretty much all setup, with almost no surprises. And did this really need to be two-plus hours long? Not remotely.

It doesn’t help that it’s not especially well-made. Say what you will about New Moon, but at least it’s a good-looking movie, with interesting camera angles (I dig the overhead shots in the forest chase scene) and some well-deployed uses of color, particularly once the gang heads to Italy. By contrast, Eclipse is cinematic cold oatmeal- not offensive by any means, but just kind of blah. I’m not even talking about making things pretty, but director David Slade can’t even manage a single shot that intrigued me enough to want to know more. He’s so eager to shoot the onscreen action in closeup that it’s difficult to tell where the characters are in relation to each other, especially during the action scenes. He even botches the scene in which the army of “newborns” emerges from the water by not being patient enough to keep his camera on the surface of the water for a few seconds before the first head pops out.

Listen, I don’t want it to seem like I’m piling on a movie that’s not my cup of tea. There’s nothing in Eclipse that angered me or made me want to hurt myself like I did during Beverly Hills Chihuahua. Heck, there are even a few things I like, such as Billy Burke’s performance as Bella’s bachelor dad, who reacts to the endless drama in his daughter’s life with a sort of irritated resignation that’s always good for a chuckle. All in all, it’s a fairly inoffensive time-waster of a movie, one that’s of interest primarily to the legions of fans who clamor to see their favorite characters and scenes play out on the big screen. I certainly don’t begrudge them their love for Twilight- I have my soft spots too, and hey, at least they’re reading something. I might not be that keen on Eclipse, but then, I don’t really matter compared to all the people who are already counting down to Breaking Dawn next year, which will bring the hotly anticipated wedding of Bella and Edward. And I suppose I’ll watch that one too, not least because I’m genuinely curious what Edward will have to say to Bella now that he no longer has the option of proposing marriage ten times per day.

Rating: 4 out of 10.

1 comment:

AJ said...

Films, for the most part, don't do justice to the books on which they are based, do they?

See "The Beach," with Leo DeCaprio. Boy, they massacred that one.