The Twilight Saga: Eclipse review

Ah, Bella and Edward, they make such sweet couple, don't they? She (Stewart) is attractive and vulnerable while he (Pattinson) is stalwart and serious – and they both fancy the pants off each other. What a pity that their teenage hormonal lust can't be given full rein. Bella is desperate to go "all the way" but Edward is very prim and proper. He will only allow their love to consummated once they're married. What a fuddy duddy. Why can't the guy just loosen up and shag her?

Perhaps it's because he's a vampire, and once she's deflowered, or "changed" as this bloodless tweeny horror tale calls it, would then have vampiric status – plus a sallow skin complexion and immortality. Truth be told, Bella needs protection – and not just from STDs. Nasty Victoria (Howard) is back acquiring newborns, young victims she pounces upon to join her, and who are at their most sadistic and violent as their bodies change from human to vampire. She's creating an army to fight the Cullen family and take Bella, so Edward and his parents and siblings reluctantly recruit Jacob (Lautner) and his clan to help them. They turn into handsomely coiffured werewolves when they're angry but show impressive fighting prowess and are very handy at battling newborns.

Jacob, though, has the hots for Bella, and is always proudly displaying his bare abs at any available opportunity. Poor Bella is very confused, what's the girl to do? She's in love with a vampire but is also infatuated with a werewolf. Any teenager goes through this rite of passage doesn't she?

Eclipse delivers the goods and certainly won't disappoint all those zealous Twihard enthusiasts who worship Stephenie Meyer's novels and have turned the movies into a blockbusting franchise. Pattinson and Lautner smoulder intensely, Stewart is convincingly enraptured, Howard agreeably villainous and Billy Burke provides a token of relief for all the put-upon adults in the audience as Bella's harassed and ludicrously ignorant father. It's good looking but lumpy, and could do with more vigour and pace. Furthermore, coming just around seven months after the release of New Moon, it doesn't really offer anything new. Minor interest is provided when we get to see the backstory for a couple of members of Edward's family, but on the whole Eclipse doesn't greatly move the story of Bella and Edward forward.

The first Twilight was a terrific movie – romantic, involving and thoroughly enjoyable. New Moon had a bigger canvas and was more ambitious, but it lacked the charm of its predecessor. Eclipse is on a par with it, mildly diverting to be sure but no outstanding improvement. The joy in the Twilight movies is seeing the capable actors taking their roles so seriously. It's as if they're playing Ibsen or Chekov they're so committed in portraying their respective characters' angst. And it's fun seeing them expend their energies on this nonsense. Let's be honest, the premise is codswallop, but you're carried along with it because it's done with such straight-faced confidence and brio.

By the way, have Bella, Edward and Jacob ever heard of masturbation? They look as if they've never bashed one out. Perhaps they should try it and then maybe their troubles wouldn't seem so all-consuming. Just a thought.

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse at IMDb

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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