The Twilight Saga: Eclipse is the third installment in the Twilight franchise, and the best interpretation of any of the books to date, as well as the most entertaining. It combines romance and action for a well-rounded movie experience.
Bella’s (Kristen Stewart) relationship with boyfriend Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) has grown since the previous movies – it’s nice to see them laughing and smiling a little bit more. But Edward’s absence in New Moon has had its consequences. Bella turned to Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner), who became her best friend, and even though he’s a werewolf, she still wants to spend time with him. Edward not only knows Jacob wants more than friendship with Bella, he’s aware that werewolves have volatile tempers, the result of which can be seen on the scarred face of a girlfriend of another member of the wolf pack. He tries to keep Bella from seeing Jacob.
Several scenes are changed from the book, sometimes for the better; sometimes not. A scene that was more exciting, without compromising the basic intent, was when Bella punches Jacob for kissing her. Rather than showing up because Bella phones him to come, Edward finds out on his own (likely through his psychic sister Alice) and races to confront Jacob. In the book, Edward’s much calmer and sees the humor in the situation (he loves the fact that Bella punched Jacob). Another great scene was the one in which Edward proposes – it’s even better than what you get in the book.
The acting in this film was exceptional. Robert Pattinson portrays the vast array of emotions that Edward goes though (Bella puts him through the wringer in this one) so perfectly that I could tell what was going on in his mind even when I couldn’t hear what he was saying (while watching the version with commentaries). He’s entirely believable as a man who grew up in another era, but who has retained his ideals in spite of the changing times. There’s a moment when he’s telling Bella what it would have been like if they’d met in 1918 (chaperoned strolls, iced tea on the porch) when he was a teenager—and you can clearly feel his regret that times have changed. Newcomer Xavier Samuel is excellent as Riley, a college kid turned into a vampire by Victoria (Bryce Dallas Howard). Taylor Lautner brings vulnerability to his role as Jacob, but I felt that Kristen still downplays Bella a little too much – she has a much more vivid personality in the books.
The actors playing the Cullens; the high school students; and Bella’s parents – were all spot on in their portrayals. It was a real treat to see a little bit of Jasper and Rosalie’s back stories. I had a slight problem with Victoria, despite the fact that Bryce Dallas Howard is a fantastic actress who did a great job. Her portrayal was so different from the original sultry, conniving Victoria, Rachelle Lefevre (who was filming another movie at the time – producers decided to replace her rather than work around her schedule), it was almost impossible to accept her in the role.
My only other complaint was a specific scene in which Bella and Edward arrive at school one morning to find Jacob waiting for them. This scene is exciting and full of tension in the book. The other students watch, sure there will be a fight. Edward stays in between Jacob and Bella, afraid that Jacob could hurt her if he loses his temper. Jacob tells her that Victoria – a dangerous vampire – was in Forks (the town where they live) looking to kill Bella while she was visiting her mother in Arizona. This makes Edward angry, because Bella immediately starts hyperventilating and trembling with fear.
Edward tries to reassure her that he won’t let any harm come to her, but Jacob insists it’s better that Bella should be frightened than to not be told the truth. Then, because Edward can read minds, Jacob recalls a memory of Bella the night Edward left her in New Moon, when she went into a state of shock out in the woods and had to be rescued. The memory causes Edward so much pain that Bella realizes what’s happening and tells Jacob, who’s laughing, to stop. He goads Edward, accusing him of imprisoning Bella by not letting her see him. The confrontation is broken up by the principal, who tells Jacob to get off school property and orders Edward and Bella to class.
However, in the movie, when Bella finds out Edward didn’t tell her Victoria was in Forks, she gets so annoyed that she leaves with Jacob on his motorcycle. Edward looks incredibly hurt as he’s left in the school parking lot alone — it comes off as quite the slap in the face. Interestingly, in the commentary, Rob Pattinson says if a girl did that to him, he would dump her.
Listening to the commentary by Rob and Kristen makes it obvious they have a special bond – they tease each other and make jokes throughout – you can’t help but laugh with them. At one point, Kristen says: “You’re in rare spirits today—people are getting a nice dose.” At the beginning, when Edward and Bella are in the meadow, Rob claims the scene is too raunchy for his taste (Bella and Edward kiss while lying down) and later during another romantic scene, says there’s too much kissing in the movie. Rob jokes that Peter (who plays Carlisle Cullen) also uses his wig as a cereal bowl; and when there’s a scene about Riley, they laugh that since they’re not in it, the scene is irrelevant. At the end, Kristen signs off with “We’re supposed to thank you guys for listening to this drivel.”
There are also two deleted scenes, as well as several extended scenes and a Six-Part Making of Eclipse feature which was interesting, especially learning how the special FX were done and which parts of the set were real and which were in a studio. There’s also a commentary with author Stephenie Meyer and producer Wyck Godfrey, which was enlightening. Apparently Meyer was on set for nearly every scene — it’s great to find out how much she cares about the integrity of the film.
Fans will love the DVD, and likely friends/family of Twilight fans will also enjoy it—it’s got a little bit of everything. There may be a lot of kissing but there’s a lot of action too – making it the most exciting Twilight movie to date, with the most incredible special FX (the wolves seem real in this one). There’s even some humor, especially in the tent scene, when Edward and Jacob do some male bonding. Although Jacob doesn’t admit it, the talk changes their relationship – and we’ll undoubtedly see more of that in the next installment – Breaking Dawn. ~Alexandra Heilbron