The Twilight Saga: Eclipse

2010 – 124mn – 12A

Directed by David Slade. Starring Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Ashley Greene, Anna Kendrick.

IF you’re a Twilight fan, you’re probably not reading this review; or if you are your mind is already set on seeing the film. If you’re a man aged 20 or older, you’re probably not reading this review either, or you’re just skimming it to make sure the film’s as bad as you imagine it to be. But if (like me) you’re not too familiar with the whole thing and are considering checking the film out – well, let me try and explain what the fuss is about.

The action takes place in a world very similar to ours, different only in the sense that no one there has apparently invented irony. Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) is a teenager in love with a 200-year old vampire, Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson). Edward’s physical looks froze when he became a vampire, so he’s still young-looking and dishy. He’s not a vampire in the sense that we know, either. He’s thirsty for blood, but vampires in this world have mostly learned to curb that urge for mealtimes, when they go drink out some deer in the forest. He sparkles in the sunlight but doesn’t die in it; and wooden stakes and garlic are not mentioned. Being a vampire does mean he’s soulless, whatever that means, and bloodless, which means his body’s always cold. Edward conveniently wears cakes of powdery white makeup at all times to make sure we don’t miss this.

Bella and Edward are about to get married, which entails Bella’s becoming a vampire herself; it’s the condition set by Edward’s vampire family and brethren. This condition will be enforced by the all-powerful vampires the Volturi, who sound menacing but in fact turn out to just be Dakota Fanning and three blokes dressed like they’re on their way to a Blackadder-themed fancy dress party. But Bella’s best friend Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner) is also in love with her, and won’t let this happen if he can help it. Jacob is a werewolf, which also doesn’t mean what we think it means. Being a werewolf means Jacob looks like a sixteen-year-old inflated to bodybuilder proportions, with the shadow of a nice seventies porn star mustache on his upper lip; and whenever needed, he can turn into a giant CGI dog. Oddly, Jacob’s CGI version is a much better actor than its human counterpart.

Jacob’s feelings for Bella are all the more troubling because vampires and werewolves are centuries-old enemies, so Edward and Jacob naturally hate each other. They can smell each other’s scents, and also, somehow, read each other’s thoughts and feelings, which made me think maybe they, in fact, are the ones really in love. This is all very difficult for Bella, and she has mixed emotions about it all. Judging by her facial expressions throughout the film, these emotions are mostly varying degrees of bloating.

All this teenage angst is put on hold by a series of killings and disappearances in nearby Seattle; killings which soon reveal themselves to be the work of a shadowy villainess trying to assemble an army of fresh vampires known as “newborns”. The villainess holds a grudge, and she plans to use the army to find and kill Bella Swan…

Crucially, no one sees the humour in any of this, and in a way that’s the only thing that makes it all work. Like them or not, you have to give the Twilight films one thing: they’re honest. They’re not a lazy studio hatchet job – in fact, everyone involved seems to genuinely, earnestly care about telling the story and telling it well. The sentiments are sincere, everyone is easy to look at, and every moment is filled with so much pubescent intensity it’s hard to not be at least mildly entertained. Whether you think the film is actually good or not is something you’ll have decided before stepping foot in the cinema, and either way, this isn’t the Twilight film to change your mind.

Star rating: 2 out of 5 stars