Face it, all you cynics: The Twilight Saga is here to stay, long after the books are read and the final films are (re)watched to death (pardon the pun). And it isn’t just hormonal teens or sad, lonely singletons that fit into the Twihard category – the latter having had Sex and the City 2 to indulge in a month ago – because what this series delivers is pure, unadulterated fantasy escapism and good old-fashioned romance. Chivalry and good manners are still king, something that anyone can appreciate, once you get past the (often) nauseating and incessant moodiness that lead frowner Bella (Kristen Stewart) is guilty of a good 90 per cent. So, the latest edition’s seeds of success are sewn and it doesn’t really make a blind bit of difference what any critic says, quite frankly, because fan curiosity and loyalty fuels box office ratings – and this is going straight to the top.
Quite deservedly so because, dare we admit it, this third film in the angst-ridden vamp saga is not only better than the first two, it’s ten times more super-charged and has more bite. This may not put the former in the best light and in all fairness to the second film (New Moon) that was a yawn-a-minute, the third book is oodles more exciting anyway. Eclipse just translates better onto the big screen, with the film-makers sticking fairly close to the written word. Yes, this latest film’s cinematic impact was never going to recapture the initial giddy thrill of ‘the first meet’ and subsequent Bella pursuit in Twilight, plus the real-life ‘are they, aren’t they’ speculation over RPatz and Stewart’s relationship has finally been put to rest. To be honest, the Bell-Ed fireworks fly off the screen in this film and the bedroom scene sizzles with frustration and desire to merely confirm showbiz’s worst-covered-up affair. That said what you witness in this scene does make you wonder whether the actors have done the horizontal foxtrot yet – though, based on RPatz’s recent sexy number in Remember Me, this man-boy has skills, so our guess is ‘quite likely’.
What has happen with the third film is it’s found a great director in the diminutive form of Brit David Slade who skilfully brought another fanged romp, 30 Days of Night, to the big screen. Slade has injected a new lease of life into the introspective Twilight brand that has a huge dosage of wit and a smothering of passion in equal proportion, allowing you to both swoon in the right places and catch your breathe in others, as well as enjoy a momentary dig at the overwhelming intensity of the characters who may well be dealing with more than the average teen, but should seriously get out and have some much needed fun.
The film may well be about a new sanguine army of vamps descending on the respectable ‘vegetarian’ Cullens, but it’s actually all about Edward and Jacob’s clash of fangs over the diminutive Bella, with one of the funniest lines delivered by Jacob: “Let’s face it, I’m hotter than you”, after a reluctant, cold-blooded Edward lets the horny, torso-naked pup warm up his lady in a tent on the side of a snowy mountain. The entrance fee alone is worth witnessing Jacob and Ed verbally tear chunks off each other, with another great retort from centuries-old Ed about Jacob’s lack of decency – any True Blood fans will appreciate this generation gap quip. Another well-directed scene is the awkward ‘birds-and-the-bees’ talk in the Swan household, which is a divine father-and-daughter moment between Bella and cop father Charlie.
On the downside, our CGI wolf friends still don’t look as convincing as they could, and the film has some necessary but rather bland flashbacks explaining both Rosalie’s and Jasper’s demise into immortality. The Volturi royalty never actually amount to anything, but amusingly stand there looking like a bunch misplaced, black-cloak-wearing Jedi knights that only get one kill in – minus cool lightsabers. It’s also a shame that new character Riley, played by rising Aussie star Xavier Samuel, isn’t in the next episode because he develops into an intriguing character over the course of this story. Bryce Dallas Howard also injects some fire into Victoria, where Rachelle Lefevre missed out.
These films are not perfect, but this one Eclipses the lot and nicely sets up book number 4, Breaking Dawn, coming in 2011 in its first part. But Twilight needs no real promotion here because it has a captive audience that will pay top dollar to feast on the next part of the story and keep the books alive. If a dashing hero like Ed and a buff fur ball like Jacob can be fascinated by morose Bella, there’s hope for every ordinary girl yet.
By L G-K