Animadversion: The Twilight Saga Eclipse – Review by Kamran Jawaid and Farheen Jawaid

below is the unedited version of the review published 11 July in iMAGES

Twilight Saga Eclipse

Lusty Desire’s, Toned Bodies and Big Bad Wolves

By Mohammad Kamran Jawaid

Sometime before the climax’s obligatory big-brawl between pony-sized wolves and shiner-skinned vampires, Bella (the consistently pale Kristen Stewart) and her father (Billy Burke), share one of those awkward father-daughter conversations. "I am still a virgin dad", she says, snickering and a little embarrassed. Though for Bella, who’s been pining away for a little action since the beginning of "Eclipse", there is little to be embarrassed about. Her only obstacle is Edward (Robert Pattinson) and his traditional "old-school" upbringing, dating back some 109 years.

Sexual tension plays a bigger (and better) part then the weepy high-school heartaches that chivied Twilight Sega’s earlier movies. "Eclipse" is still strictly PG-13. Meaning no skin issues, unless we count the perfectly hand-crafted body that the boy-wolf Jacob (Taylor Lautner) flaunts like Salman Khan.

Love-ached as he is, Edward would rather court Bella, than consummate in the wildflower filled meadows where Bella starts the movie with her branded narrative. This time, on a note of unhesitating sexual desire, she reads from Robert Frost’s poem "Fire and Ice", supposedly for an English paper. "From what I’ve tasted of desire/I hold with those who favor fire", she reads "But if it had to perish twice, I think I know enough of hate/To say that for destruction ice/ Is also great". By the end of "Eclipse", Bella has to become a vampire – the time is set on the day of her graduation – and leave her worldly contacts.

As Edward tells her "I know the consequences of the choices you’re making. After a few decades, everyone you know will be dead". This holy matrimony of the almost-dead will include a sine qua non hate-hate relationship with Jacob and his top-body naked pack of shape-shifting youngsters. But wait! Bella – and an innumerable amount of fan-girls likely to make "Eclipse" a worldwide blockbuster – might still hanker an odd-emotional note for Jacob.

"Eclipse" is still very much about teen-angst, but its adaptation is slowly moving away from its original mold of teary–eyed vampire–human love.

The steadily evolving adaptation directed by "Hard Candy" and "30 Days of Night" helmer David Slade (unnoticeable, if that’s any compliment) grounds a separate and a less effectively executed narrative about a growing army of new-blood vampires, born-again by the still vengeful Victoria – meaner, with noticeably more flame colored tresses, is a sexier looking Bryce Dallas Howard, shooting grimacing snarls just off camera. Ms. Howard replaces earlier "Victoria" Rachelle Lefevre, although the replacement didn’t click until her close-ups at the end.

A skipped side-story about a youngling vampire – a big eyed Jodelle Ferland playing Bree Tanner (a part of the spin-off novella "The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner") – and Victoria’s new chief instigator Riley (Xavier Samuel) could have made the narrative more interesting and a little more cinematic than the routinely mountain sweeping camera work (Victoria’s cabal grows from the dark alleys of Seattle, limited to a set or two).

Between Bella’s aching is an unkind battle between two fan-girl camps. One rooting for Edward, the other for Jacob. Throw in a battle or two, a few odd back-stories (Jasper played by Jackson Rathbone and Nikki Reed gets a better deal than the rest) and an almost rival-male bonding scene ("I am hotter than you", Jacob literary says to Edward in one scene) and you’re done for this part. Oh yeah, and there’s Dakota Fanning (unblinking, mind-controlling, creepier looking) in there somewhere too.

Released by Summit Entertainment, "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse" is rated PG-13. There’s plenty of decapitation by speed-running vampires and oversized wolves, slimmer and sexier looking figures (not for Ms. Stewart, though), toned bodies and still-chaste relationships.

Second Opinion

By Farheen Jawaid

The burdensome love triangle between lackluster humans Bella (Kristen Stewart), pale, glow in the sunlight vampire, Edward (Robert Pattinson) and the ridiculously-toned (shamelessly-displayed) shape-shifting wolf, Jacob (Taylor Lautner), is out in theatres for the third time, repeating old things to death. But thank goodness this one, "Eclipse" it’s called for short, has basic things like elements (other than the leads yearning for each other) and action on the side to make it a tad bit more interesting than the last two movies put together. But that still does not make "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse" (full title) a complete movie experience. It’s as lovesick, teen-angst ridden as the last two "Twilight Saga" movies without any concrete steps taken forward story-wise.

The reason that makes this one better is its light humor which was invisible previous movies (one scene in particular is the one in the tent where Jacob and Edward share some heart to heart). Or – again – the male cast of the film and ample amount of male rippling flesh up for viewing from the wolf boys; I can see fan-girls watching this one in rapt attention. Or the reason could be that the shape-shifting wolf family of Jacob and the Cullen Clan – the vampire family of Edward – join forces against newbie vampires out to hunt Bella. "Eclipse" sports a good look visual effects wise, but direction wise it is by far the most lazy showcase of work in the franchise. Director David Slade visually left too much out.

Sloppily acted, "Eclipse" has some really nice lines which are drowned in the mumbled response of the actors. Its supporting cast still performed better. The background stories of Cullen clans Rosalie Hale (Nikki Reed), and Jasper Hale (Jackson Rathbone) gave much needed character development.

The running time of this franchise still feels like a bad actor delivering a never-ending minutes-long monologue, where the end just doesn’t come soon enough. The good thing is that the think tanks of the "Twilight Saga" realized it flaws and tried hiding it with tighter material.

The published version can be found at:

http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/in-paper-magazine/images/desires-toned-bodies-and-big-bad-wolves-170

and

http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/in-paper-magazine/images/second-opinion-170

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