Ka-Ching! There’s no way this franchise won’t continue to make millions (upon millions upon millions), no matter what the critics – or any Twilight naysayers- might have to say about it. The first Twilight movie was pretty bad. Actually, it was really, really, almost comically bad. But two satisfying sequels later – and all is forgiven.

I just re-read my review of Twilight: New Moon from last November and it’s hard not to be redundant because the same holds true for Eclipse… It is a guilty pleasure for Twilight (book and movie) fans, and a total WTF? for anyone who doesn’t understand the “twihard” phenomenon.

Eclipse picks up where we left off – with angst-ridden, vampire-wannabe Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) swooning over her ‘hot’ cold-blooded immortal soulmate, Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson), much to the chagrin of her ‘hot’ hot-blooded, part-time-werewolf pal, Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner). Ya with me so far?

There’s a whole cast of supporting characters including: Bella’s well-meaning dad (and local sheriff) Charlie; the endearing Cullen vampire clan; the evil Volturi; an army of vampire “newborns” who wreak havoc on Seattle before venturing into Forks territory; and a few “normal” high school pals who – I don’t know– are just there to remind us that regular ol’ humans are going about their business, oblivious to the supernatural forces in their midst. But they don’t really matter here…

Eclipse is all about the love triangle between Bella, Jacob and Edward and what happens when the two guys must join forces to protect Bella from a vengeful vampire named Victoria. Jacob and Edward exchange zingers (sometimes telepathically) and brood over Bella’s choices in life (and death). These guys are the heart and soul – and entertaining eye candy- of this installment, right down to Edward’s deep-amber eyes and Jacob’s rock-solid abs.

It’s been about two years since I read the Twilight books by Stephenie Meyer and debated the merits of “Team Jacob” versus “Team Edward” with equally ‘embarrassed-to-admit-we’re-even-talking-about-this’ friends and co-workers. I’d actually forgotten what transpired in Eclipse, though I do recall thinking that its sole purpose was to set up the fourth and final book, Breaking Dawn.

Like the books, the movies will ultimately blend into one giant memory of an inexplicably-absorbing story about a young woman who chooses to become a vampire so she can live happily-ever-forever with her true love. Not to mention, the bizarre happily-ever-after for her best friend/werewolf who felt a ‘love connection’ with Bella for all the wrong reasons. Confused? Then you haven’t read the books. And if you haven’t read the books, but actually liked the movies, it’ll all make sense after Breaking Dawn. Unfortunately, the movie studios are breaking Breaking Dawn into two parts (ka-ching, ka-ching), so it’ll take a bit longer for full enlightenment. Like, sometime in 2012.

Bottom line: Eclipse doesn’t suck, the vampires look rather chic in black leather, and the actors are (for the most part) growing into their characters quite nicely. Twihards will like it – perhaps even love it. And the rest of the mortal world will just to have to live with that.

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