Twilight: Eclipse

No sex before marriage makes vampirism totally unsexy in this riskless, casualty-free confrontation

Jun 30, 2010 at 12:00 am

Same shit, a couple of months later. Or weeks. Or does anyone really know when these movies are supposed to take place?

Look, I get it. Stephenie Meyer's Twilight books and flicks are tweenage supernatural goth romance novels. A 40-year-old white dude isn't the intended target audience. Still, this gooey stew of ham-fisted hormonal longing, supernatural soap operatics and bare-chested hunks is really just a trilogy dedicated to overwrought teenage indecision and abstinence.

Of the three films so far, Eclispe is certainly the best in the series but, my God, could the dialogue, plotting and characters be more turgid? It's like watching a broody 13-year-old girl's diary come to life.

Director David Slade (Hard Candy, 30 Days of Night) makes a valiant effort to bring this heap of ridiculous clichés to life, giving this third chapter a slightly darker and grittier edge. The action scenes have a bit more punch, there are a few effectively tender moments, and though its puerile script continually bogs down in "you don't love him, you love me" neuroses, the pacing mostly works ... except, of course, when it totally doesn't.

At least scripter Melissa Rosenberg finds a narrative spine to follow this time out (Twilight and New Moon could barely tell a coherent story). Unfortunately, all her character interactions are predictable, lifeless and redundant. Edward broods, Jacobs fumes and supporting characters endlessly chatter on about impending dangers and threats. But no one is really in any danger. For all the hand-wringing and preparation for a "vampire war," not a single good guy suffers. Oh, they all have plenty of angst, but the finale is a riskless, casualty-free confrontation. Joss Whedon threw audiences for a loop when he killed off a major character in Serenity. He opined that without real consequences and loss his finale would just be a whole lot of empty noise — a perfect description for Eclipse.

The worst sin of Meyer's stories is that her take on supernatural legends is clearly made up as she goes along. There are no rules in the world of Twilight and its connections to myth are so thin as to be irrelevant. The "vampires" are really just glittery goth immortals with all the depth of a rhinestone. The werewolves are condescending stereotypes taken from Native American culture. But even Meyer's internal story logic doesn't work. We're told newbie vampires are more powerful than the older vampires — but they're not. The good guys rip their heads off easy-peasy. We're told vampires can read other vampire thoughts — except when they can't. And werewolf thoughts need translation — except when they don't. And then there's frigid, diamond-skinned Victoria, whose body easily ignites with a cigarette lighter. And what do Dakota Fanning and the Vulturi have to do with anything? I'm sure there's an eighth-grader who can explain it all but, really, who cares? This is sloppy hack writing of the first order. Though comparisons between the Twilight series and Harry Potter make sense from a dollars-and-cents perspective, anything else is an insult to J.K. Rowling, who is actually a very fine writer.

Plus, is it just me or is Bella the mopiest cock-tease of all time? While I appreciate director Slade's sly hints that a ménage à trois with the vampiric Edward and werewolf Jacob could turn the self-absorbed teen into supernatural sex sandwich (the tent scene plays like the setup for a porn interlude), Meyers and Rosenberg are so stiflingly banal in their writing that Eclipse can't even cross the line into trashy. The teens are so completely neutered of any emotion, other than yearning, that even John Waters would struggle to find the fun.  

And, Edward, dude, a little advice: The whole no-sex-before-marriage thing makes vampirism totally unsexy. Thank goodness there's True Blood to provide us with some down-and-dirty inter-mortal action.

Jeff Meyers writes about film for Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected].