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Thursday, July 8, 2010 01:41 am

Tepid story clouds over Eclipse

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Kristen Stewart stars as Bella Swan and Robert Pattinson stars as Edward Cullen in The Twilight Saga’s Eclipse.

Let’s be honest – all this vampire and werewolf nonsense in the Twilight films is silly. What drives this series is the love triangle between Bella, Edward and Jacob. In Eclipse, this relationship takes center stage, providing the series with its best moments yet. However, the film is a long haul hobbled by pregnant pauses, melodramatic moments and a plot that moves at the speed of an ice floe.

As the film opens, clairvoyant vampire Alice (Ashley Greene) is in a tizzy. She senses a breed of fierce newborn vampires are being made by Riley (Xavier Samuel), a new bloodsucker who’s forming an army for Victoria (Bryce Dallas Howard). She’s out for revenge as Edward (Robert Pattinson) killed her mate. Her plan is to do away with Bella (Kristen Stewart) who’s in the midst of an emotional quandary – does she devote herself to Edward or give herself to the werewolf Jacob (Taylor Lautner)?

Fans of the novel will be pleased with this adaptation as it is the most action-packed entry in the series and Lautner appears regularly, sans shirt. The film is at its best when it focuses on the plot’s emotional concerns. Effective period flashbacks show us why the vampires and werewolves are at each other’s throats and we discover how Jasper (Jackson Rathbone) and Rosalie (Nikki Reed) entered the realm of the undead. These sequences are engaging and generate sympathy for the characters that’s been missing.

Meanwhile, macho confrontations and pointed conversations between the three principles give them a depth that’s been missing. Stewart does a fine job with Bella’s anguish while Lautner is solid channeling Jacob’s anger and frustration. But Pattinson finally gets the chance to shine, particularly when he expresses his true feelings for Bella to Jacob while they’re trapped in a tent. Some real heart and humanity shows through here. Too bad the rest of the film is cold and lifeless.

Contact Chuck Koplinski at ckoplinski@usd116.org.

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