The price for surrendering your virginity is so high in”The Twilight Saga: Eclipse” that even Edward Cullen, the proposedtool of surrender, balks at it. Like him, you would become one of the undead.This is a price that Bella Swan, the virtuous heroine, must be willing to pay.Apparently when you marry a vampire, even such a well-behaved one as Edward,he’s required to bite you.
This romantic dilemma isdeveloped in “Eclipse,” the third installment in this inexhaustibleseries, by adding a complication that has been building ever since the first.Jacob Black, the shape-shifting werewolf, is also in love with Bella (KristenStewart), and she perhaps with him. Jacob (Taylor Lautner) and his tribe arehot-blooded and never wear shirts, inspiring little coos and ripples of delightin the audience. Here is a fantasy to out-steam any romance novel: A sweetyoung girl is forced to choose between two improbably tall, dark and handsomemen who brood and smolder and yearn for her.
Nothing is perfect.There is a problem. The flame-tressed vampire Victoria (Bryce Dallas Howard)has been active in Seattle initiating new vampires, or Newbies, who in theiryouth are ravenous for blood and would have superhuman strength, if they werehuman. Victoria wants to destroy Bella in revenge for the murder of herboyfriend, James. Edward and Jacob both vow to protect the girl they love, andtheir fellow vampires and werewolves of course are prepared to fight to the deathin this cause. This is true buddy love.
The movie containsviolence and death, but not really very much. For most of its languorousrunning time, it listens to conversations between Bella and Edward, Bella andJacob, Edward and Jacob, and Edward and Bella and Jacob. This would play betterif any of them were clever conversationalists, but their ideas are limited tosimplistic renderings of their desires. To be sure, there is a valedictoryaddress, reminding us that these kids have skipped school for three movies now.And Edward has a noble speech when he tells Bella he doesn’t want to have sexwith her until after they’re married. This is self-denial indeed for a109-year-old vampire, who adds a piquant flavor to the category “confirmedbachelor.”
Of Taylor Lautner’smusculature, and particularly his abs, much has been written. Yes, he has agreat build, but I remind you that an abdominal six-pack must be five seconds’work for a shape-shifter. More impressive is the ability of both Edward and Jacobto regard Bella with penetrating gazes from ‘neath really heavy eyebrows. Whenmy eyebrows get like Edward’s, the barber trims them and never even asks mefirst.
There is a problem withthe special effects. Many of the mountain ranges, which disappear into the fardistance as increasingly pale peaks, look suspiciously like landscapes paintedby that guy on TV who shows you how to paint stuff like that. The mountainforests and lakes are so pristine we should see Lewis and Clark just arriving.And the werewolves are inexplicable. They look snarly enough, have viciousfangs and are larger than healthy ponies, but when they fall upon Newbies, theynever quite seem to get the job done. One werewolf is nearly squeezed to death,and another, whose identity I will conceal, hears “he has broken bones onone whole side.” Luckily, repairing the damage is only a night’s work forDr. Carlisle Cullen (Peter Facinelli). The problem with the effects is that thewolves don’t seem to have physical weight and presence.
Much leads up to a scenein a tent on a mountaintop in the midst of a howling blizzard, when Bella’steeth start chattering. Obviously a job for the hot-blooded Jacob and not thecold-blooded Edward, and as Jacob embraces and warms her, he and Edward have acloying cringe fest in which Edward admits that if Jacob were not a werewolf,he would probably like him, and then Jacob admits that if Edward were not avampire well, no, no, he couldn’t. Come on, big guy. The two of you aremaking eye contact. Edward’s been a confirmed bachelor for 109 years. Get inthe brokeback spirit. <
The audience watchedthis film with rapt attention. They obviously had a deep understanding of thestory, which is just as well, because anyone not intimately familiar with theearlier installments could not make head or tails of the opening scenes. The”Twilight” movies are chaste eroticism to fuel adolescent dreams, andare really about Bella being attracted and titillated and aroused and temptedup to the … very … BRINK! … of surrender, and then, well, no, no, sheshouldn’t.