“Eclipse” brings the goods

And by ‘goods’ I mean much more Edward than we saw in “New Moon”

by SuzsPetals
(Reprinted in part from The Berthoud Weekly Surveyor)

Robert Pattions stars in "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse" as Edward Cullen. Oh. And there are some other people in the movie too, as well as bad wigs. (Photo courtesy of RottenTomatoes.com)

It was the day before the midnight premiere of “The Twilight Sage: Eclipse” and like a good little fan, I had my tickets purchased and picked up. But when I went online and saw that the theater was up to six sold-out screens, I had to stop and wonder, “Am I too old for this shit?!”

Fortunately, my inner 16-year-old spoke up and assured me all was well with the continuing saga of my mid-life crisis. I more or less came out of the Twi-closet with my review of “New Moon,” the second installment of the wildly popular series of movies adapted from the wildly popular series of books by Stephenie Meyer.
June 29 was a similar scene to the last time my friends and I braved the midnight showing, but the crowd was even more diverse — all ages and both sexes were well represented. We also got similarly crappy seats because we preferred to have drinks across the street, rather than stand in line for an hour. See – being old has advantages over my inner teenager.

It’s a given that you don’t get to really enjoy the whole movie with an enthusiastic, opening night crowd. I shared the theater with a surprising majority of Team Jacob fans. Teenage girls around me were channeling horny construction workers, cat-calling and hooting each time Taylor Lautner appeared onscreen sans shirt. A second — probably third — viewing would be required to thoughtfully review this film.

Before even opening to the masses, “Eclipse” had been touted as the best of the series by critics and those who had been lucky enough to pre-screen. By using a different director for each film, Summit Entertainment has ensured they all have a different look, so I’m going to go on the record and plead apples and oranges. I adore Chris Weitz, I loved “New Moon” and I refuse to denigrate either.

That said, I give huge props to “Eclipse” director David Slade, and possibly chow down on a little crow. Slade helmed another vampire flick, “30 Days of Night,” and I was terrified after viewing it. Not of the movie itself, although it was dark, suspenseful and very gory, but that raised my fears of what kind of vision he would bring to the sparkly ones.

Yes, in case you weren’t aware, Twilight vampires sparkle in the sun. They also don’t have fangs or sleep in coffins. The main character — as well as his family — also doesn’t drink human blood, making him much easier for heroine Bella Swan to fall head over heels in love with. Her relationship with Edward, the gorgeous teenage vampire, has matured by “Eclipse” as they affectionately bicker about his reluctance to turn her into an immortal. Arguing his case for her prolonged humanity is Bella’s best friend — and werewolf — Jacob.

If a love triangle among mythical creatures wasn’t enough for a girl to deal with, an army of evil vampires is being created for the sole purpose of eliminating her from the population. Oh, and she’s about to graduate high school and we all remember how stressful that can be. (Or maybe that was just me and my inability to pass Advanced Yarn & Needle Arts.)

All of this potential conflict is probably the reason it’s the book in the series favored by most fans, and the movie promotes lots of action “for the guys” in hopes of broadening its audience. It definitely delivered in that arena. The battle scenes were exciting led by a much more animated Jackson Rathbone as Jasper.

I, however, preferred the more personal conflict in the story. The three main actors — Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart and Taylor Lautner — have been together since the beginning of the saga, and their chemistry is probably the driving force behind its success. They play off each other so well that the relationships are as comfortable as the stories are to loyal Twilight fans.

I probably confessed this before, but I’m a hopeless romantic. Edward’s unwavering devotion to Bella — even when she inexplicably considers a life with her best friend, the mutt — never fails to elicit wistful sighs throughout the movie. Did I mention I’m Team Edward?

As much as I loved “Eclipse” there were, of course, a few things with which I took issue. First of all, these movies now boast huge budgets. Why are the wigs so hideous? Why are there wigs at all? Aren’t these actors paid enough to endure a little time in the chair for dye jobs or extensions? Just a thought, Summit.

Luckily for the fans, the cast has stayed almost completely intact since the first movie, so there was quite the uproar when the character of Victoria (Bella-hating, vengeful vamp) was recast for “Eclipse” with Bryce Dallas Howard. I like Howard fine, but I have to band with the die-hard Rachelle LeFevre fans and agree that the role should have stayed hers. She brought a feral intensity to “New Moon” that would have the made the final showdown with Edward all the better.

I had a whole paragraph planned here about how Robert Pattinson has fully realized the character of Edward and his scenes were nuanced with emotion and depth, whether sharing a tender moment with Stewart or angry confrontation with Lautner. Let’s just say there are a slew of other people milling about for two hours and then there’s Rob. (Insert inner 16-year-old fangirl sigh here.)

Now for the bad news for Saga fans — and let’s face it, the movies are made for the fans — the final installment “Breaking Dawn” won’t start filming until this fall and won’t release until November, 2011. Part one, that is, since the decision’s also been made to split the book into two films, ala “Harry Potter.” I disagree with this, but producers failed to ask my opinion.

What does this mean for this zealous, middle-aged fan? It means I have another two years, minimum, to blithely ignore the mocking and ribbing from friends, family and co-workers. And to watch the DVDs a lot.
“The Twilight Saga: Eclipse” is rated PG-13 for some violence, mild language and lots of smooches.