|The Twilight Saga: Eclipse | Directed by David Slade | Written by Melissa Rosenberg based on the novel by Stephenie Meyer | with Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Billy Burke, Peter Facinelli, Bryce Dallas Howard, Elizabeth Reaser, Jackson Rathbone, Kellan Lutz, Ashley Greene, Nikki Reed, Anna Kendrick, Michael Welch, Justin Chon, and Dakota Fanning | Summit Entertainment | 121 minutes|
No matter how many books she sells, no matter how many billions the movies make, no matter what significance her huge success has for the future of Western culture, there's no excuse for Stephenie Meyer's terrible writing. And now her mind-numbing logorrhea has overwhelmed whatever salvage operation the big screen can offer.
Not that director David Slade and screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg have put up much resistance. Like Meyer's own editors, they've given up trying to rein in her literary crimes and have decided simply to give the customers what they want. The third in the series (two more are in the works, since the final volume is being divided, Harry Potter–style, into two films) is, aside from a few moments of probably unintentional wit, emotion, and excitement, a tedious litany of trite, mawkish, repetitious dialogue from what might be the world's worst Y/A novel. (I have yet to read volume four.)
Back when the first Twilight (2008) came out, I didn't think any of that mattered. I thought of it as a silent movie that shone with close-ups of luminous faces and exulted in the bigger-than-life emotions of melodrama. But now I realize it's all just bad acting and cornball inanity.
So why will it be the most popular movie in the world for at least part of the summer? Maybe it's the fantasy of an average girl like Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) in a dead-end town with a dumb dad and trivial friends who bumps into superhuman beings — okay, vampires, but they drink the blood only of wild animals, and we don't have to watch them doing even that — who possess unearthly beauty and invincible powers and have lots of money and things. Not only does she get to hang out with these people, she falls in love with one of them — dreamy Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) — and someday might even become one of them. It's kind of like regular people like us getting up close and personal with real celebrities like, well, Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson.
But Bella is not just in with the vampires, she's also palling around with their mortal enemies, the Native American werewolves, who, given the audience reaction to Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner) without his shirt on, might be even sexier than their rivals. (Jacob to Edward in the best line of the movie: "Let's face it — I'm hotter than you.") These guys are so cool, they don't even need to text each other — they just chat all day through werewolf telepathy.
To top it off, Bella is so special that the vampire puppetmaster Victoria (Bryce Dallas Howard mugging like Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard) has gone to the trouble of raising up an army of "newborns" — freshly minted, ravenous revenants who look a lot like the zombies in 28 Days Later (or those in Slade's wintry vampire knockoff, 30 Days of Night) — to do her in, forcing both her vampire and her werewolf friends to protect her.