What in the holy hell does Jacob have to do to make Bella forget about that pasty bastard, Edward? He’s completely jacked, he rarely wears a shirt (which the jealous ancient vampire humourously notes), he can keep her very warm in a tent during blisteringly cold nights outside, he rides a motorcycle and he can run around while effortlessly carrying her simultaneously. Honestly, what more can he do? Oh right. He’s kind of a douche. My bad.
Unfortunately, so is her ancient vampire boyfriend, or at least he was in the first two films of this franchise. But in Eclipse, the third but sadly, far from final chapter in this ongoing, underwhelming franchise, he’s so devoted to the now thankfully less gloomy teenager he rarely leaves her side. (I preferred it when he took a hikeski.)
This endlessly aggravates Bella’s divorced dad and town sheriff, Charlie (the always good Billy Burke in a thankless role), who would prefer it if she comforted Jacob. But like New Moon, the previous film, the young shirtless werewolf can’t resist playing the hot/cold routine perfected by Edward in Twilight. She calls, he doesn’t call back. He doesn’t visit her, she doesn’t visit him.
After Charlie frees her from her punishment (she got grounded because of what happened in the last movie), she decides to make the first move. But that crappy red truck won’t start and Edward makes an unexpected appearance on the passenger side, freaking her out. Let’s call this the Vampire Cock Block. Seeing Jacob will have to wait.
Meanwhile, an army of “newborn” vampires (recently bitten humans) are being assembled and causing the usual array of mayhem in Washington State, much to the befuddlement of the always confused local police force. (Have they never seen Dracula?)
The Cullen Family, particularly Alice the visionary, have no idea at first who’s organizing the coming invasion. But eventually, we learn it’s Victoria (now played by the absolutely beautiful Bryce Dallas Howard who I didn’t really hate all that much) who hopes to avenge the death of her undead lover.
Eventually, Bella and Jacob get reacquainted but he says something dumb that turns her off. Plus, he forces her to kiss him. (Smooth, dude.) At a party, he makes it up to her by giving her a werewolf trinket. The overprotective Edward offers her one of his own, shortly thereafter.
Although Jacob correctly observes that she’s into him, she spends most of the movie living in denial. After three of these features, it remains hard to believe that Edward would have that strong of a hold on her. He’s not even handsome, for God’s sake. Or tanned.
During the tent sequence late in the film, Jacob offers the funniest moment in the movie by stating an obvious fact. Eventually, because of his angry reaction about her upcoming summer nuptials (oh Edward, you sneaky dick), Bella finally confesses her true feelings. But no matter what, Jacob is still the runner-up. Maybe he should run around bottomless, too.
Because newborn vampires are much more powerful than The Cullens, the latter form an uneasy alliance with Jacob and his family of werewolves hoping to stop the coming onslaught. This doesn’t exactly sit well with Edward and Jacob who clash time and time again over winning the permanent affection of Bella who, despite her beauty and thankfully less worldweary Debby Downer personality, still doesn’t strike me as worth all this much trouble. For Bella’s part, she’s worried about their safety and is tired of being hidden away like a fragile treasure unable to contribute to the cause. All the while, representatives from The Volturi (led by an unconvincing Dakota Fanning) pop up on the scene. After quietly observing Victoria’s growing army, they meet with The Cullen clan and lay down the law.
As the movie builds to its best scene in the third act, we get some much needed background on two of the Cullens. Jasper, who has experience dealing with newborns, was a soldier in The Civil War who got turned by a Spanish vampire he fell for. But she only used him to train and later discard new recruits. He’s much happier with his current bloodsucking gal.
Then, there’s the awful story of Rosalie. A couple of centuries ago, she fell for a philandering alcoholic rapist who, along with his drunken friends, left her for dead after being gangraped one fateful night. (Before we see him throw her on the ground, can you believe she is still willing to meet him the next day if he shows up sober? And this is after he already starts getting inappropriate!) She got turned shortly after her horrible ordeal and yet, absurdly thinks this was the worst thing that could happen to her. The transformation, not the assault.
Despite knocking off all those sickening mysogynists (Her moustachioed beau is the last one she kills. What is this, Sudden Impact?), she pines to be human again and to have a regular married life filled with kids and grandkids. (Vampire love doesn’t compare to human love, apparently.) But if she hadn’t gotten bitten, she would’ve died. (Even if she had somehow survived, she likely would’ve suffered from years and years of unresolved trauma.) Does she not realize that the minute she laid eyes on that asshole back in the day, that dream died a sorry death? Don’t get me started.
At the end of New Moon, Edward suddenly proposed marriage to Bella, who we learn in Eclipse still has her hymen. For much of this third film she continually refuses to accept until Mr. Old School does a proper speech and finally gets his yes. As for consummating this relationship, they haven’t set a date. Edward’s a bit of a tease, you see.
And that finally leads to the amazing battle sequence in the third act. Beautifully choreographed and edited, it’s as close to perfect as you can get. It is the only time the film truthfully has some genuine energy and excitement. Never have I been so happy to see so many decapitations.
Believe it or not, we’re only halfway through this damn franchise and I don’t know how much more I can take. With so little heat between Kristen Stewart and her two paramours, it’s tedious watching their unconvincing scenes together. And with little else besides the stunning visuals (the British Columbia scenery, that awesomely brief female werewolf transformation, the red eyes of the vampires) and occasional action sequence to hook me, it’s getting harder to stay focused on this love triangle. Their lack of sizzle remains the fatal flaw of this series.
Hamiton, Ontario, Canada
Thursday, April 21, 2011