Here goes my street cred: I have actually read all of the Twilight books and saw (by choice) the first two movies in the theater. True this is not as embarrassing as me renting Yentl in high school. (I still remember hiding that blue, Blockbuster VHS in my room—like it was porn—and only watching it when I was sure no one else was around.) Yet, this declaration should not be taken as me coming out as a proud Twi-head. No… really, really no… I think it’s merely proof that I’m a sucker for pop culture—I have to know what everyone is talking about. So while Eclipse is no Dracula (or True Blood, for that matter), I simply had to see a movie that had my female Facebook friends all atwitter with midnight screening plans. Not to mention a movie that was discussed during Elena Kagan’s confirmation hearing.
Eclipse is pretty much like all the others: Bella (Kristen “I Always Look Like I’m Smelling Pooh” Stewart) is still in love with the vampire Edward (Robert “Please Trim Your Sideburns” Pattinson); the werewolf, Jacob (Taylor “Big Neck” Lautner) is still pining after Bella; and, everyone is still dressed like mannequins. (Who knew that vampire battle gear is black sportswear?) That’s essentially it. While the real story is that a vampire, Victoria (Bryce Dallas Howard) is creating an army to kill Bella, this remains far in the background. Instead we get lots and lots and lots of weary, teenage dialogue in nostril-hair-counting close-ups. Like this gem:
Edward: You love him.
Bella: I love you more.
Edward. I know.
But who am I kidding? This movie is not about dialogue or plot or action sequences or men’s hair product. It’s about Taylor Lautner’s nipples. Seriously. The entire movie is as follows: 1) possibly exciting action scene, 2) long discussions, 3) Lautner without a shirt. When all three are combined, the audience goes crazy. Then when you have all the shirtless man-wolves standing around like a beefcake poster, it’s like cinematic gold. I will admit that I had to stifle a laugh at Lautner’s first shirtless scene. Who’s idea was it to underscore the scene with a song that had a mighty strong club beat?
Despite its many, many flaws, I somehow still enjoyed the movie—mainly because the few action sequences were actually quite fun to watch. So put on your angsty teenage block (I’d suggest SPF Miley) and just go see it. Then you can truly appreciate Elena Kagan’s refusal to admit if she’s on Team Edward or Team Jacob.
Best or worst line: Edward’s comment about Jacob—“Doesn’t he own a shirt?”
Favorite scene: The first chase after Victoria is pretty awesome. The effects of her jumping back and forth between the sides of the river were spectacular.
Teen angst scale (1-10): 9.6
Drinking game word: “Bella”—if you want alcohol poisoning. It’d be like drinking to “Jack” or “Rose” in Titanic.
Team Edward or Team Jacob: Team Bon Temps
Should you take your boyfriend: Due to the beefcake factor, I’ll stick with my response from Sex and the City 2—“Yes, if he’s a huge Liza Minelli fan.”
My Grade: C+
Wait, so this is what all that fuss has been about for the past three years? A movie where the feisty and independent heroine’s name is Bella Swan? Where said feisty and independent heroine is less a feisty and independent heroine than a permanently doe-eyed damsel in distress? Where the adoring gazes shot at our Bella from a shirtless wolfman and a brooding vampire comprise about half the “plot”? It was like Harlequin-meets-Hollywood, only with less sex and more undead.
Full disclosure: I hadn’t so much as skimmed a Twilight novel—much less seen a movie—before going to see Eclipse. While keenly aware of the hype, I was only vaguely aware of the storyline. But as epic movie series go, it’s not exactly The Godfather (sheesh, it’s not even Die Hard), so it was easy to catch up quickly. (Love triangle, check. Good vampires, bad vampires, skin that sparkles in the sun, check, check.) I figured I’d like it at least a little—I mean, I’m a girl. I’m versed in the world of angsty romance. I live for a little angsty romance.
Alas, even the romance in this movie plays out a little too goofy to be moving. (Bella, carried in the snow by a shirtless Jacob! Edward, in a field of wildflowers, begging the high school senior for her hand in marriage!) It is, however, the type of love story a 10-year-old me would have relished: Handsome boys fighting to protect a helpless, hapless young girl, in a world seemingly run by teenagers, where magic exists and the line between good and evil may as well be drawn with a sparkly purple Sharpie. Tack on a princess crown, and I think it’s literally one of my childhood daydreams come true, right down to the wooden dialogue. I suppose there are a few enthralling moments for grown-ups—the fight scene that is the climax is exciting; the flashback scenes depicting how the vampires got to be vampires were among the most engaging of the movie; and Robert Pattinson has a smoldering Dylan McKay thing happening—but on the whole, this a movie for tweens and their tolerant parents, and not even a particularly good one as that genre goes. Harry Potter, you’re safe. —Christine Speer
Team Edward or Team Jacob: Team I Really Don’t Give a Damn.
Best or worst line: Edward—“You know, Jacob, if it weren’t for the fact that we’re natural enemies and that you’re also trying to steal away the reason for my existence, I might actually like you.”
Favorite scene: The too-short fight scene between the army of newborn vampires and the “good guys.”
Teen angst scale (1-10): 8. Hovering somewhere between Girls Just Wanna Have Fun and Rebel Without A Cause.
Drinking game word: Bella
Should you take your boyfriend: Only if he’s in trouble. Or you’re 13. (And even then, it’s iffy.)
My Grade: D