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Lying in a Pool of Bad Blood

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (2010)

Kimberley French/Summit Entertainment

David Slade takes over “The Twilight Saga” directorial reigns for “Eclipse,” the third installment; and the “Hard Candy” filmmaker gives it his directorial all. Sprucing things up with an indie-rock infused soundtrack, grittier bone-crunching violence and several moody, naturalistic visual compositions, Mr. Slade demonstrates a firm belief in the narrative’s potential to rise above its simplistic, potboiler origins. Such faith must be commended, no matter how blind.

Still, all the window dressing in the world hardly detracts from the fundamental flaw at the heart of this astoundingly popular series. There’s enough compelling dramatic material in Stephenie Meyer’s creation for one, maybe two medium-length features, but no more. By the time the credits finally roll on the second “Breaking Dawn” film, not due until 2012, Bella Swan’s existential crisis will hit its 10-hour cinematic mark. That’s “Lonesome Dove” territory. Not even “Star Wars” and “Indiana Jones” could be sustained for so long and, my friends, “Twilight” is no “Star Wars” or “Indiana Jones.”

Take away the hokey mythology surrounding the vampires and werewolves of Ms. Meyer’s world, and you’re left with an ongoing, angst-ridden hormonal explosion. In its obsessive chronicling of the push-and-pull with Bella (Kristen Stewart) conducted by her vampire love Edward (Robert Pattinson) and third-wheel werewolf Jacob (Taylor Lautner), the entire series can be reduced to little more than the world’s dullest love triangle.

Reliable sources tell me things heat up over the final two pictures, but in “Eclipse” the trio spends its time obsessively dissecting every last bit of the human Bella’s forthcoming decision to become a vampire. This comes complete with wooden, one-dimensional declarations of love and anger and enough speechifying about the forthcoming “choice” to fill 10 screenplays. The occasional melodramatic kiss, or nose-to-nose confrontation, is all that passes for action with this chaste group.

Sure, there’s a narrative of sorts, involving a vampire army, a vixen played by Bryce Dallas Howard and the Volturi coven, but it stands squarely behind the flat conversing and posturing of the washboard abs-blessed shirtless Jacob, moody Edward and humorless Bella. Three movies and more than six hours in, and there’s still no reason to care.


Opens on June 30 in the United States and on July 9 in Britain.

Directed by David Slade; written by Melissa Rosenberg, based on the novel by Stephenie Meyer; director of photography, Javier Aguirresarobe; edited by Art Jones and Nancy Richardson; music by Howard Shore; production designer, Paul Denham Austerberry; costumes by Tish Monaghan; produced by Wyck Godfrey and Karen Rosenfelt; released by Summit Entertainment (United States) and E1 Entertainment (Britain). Running time: 2 hours 4 minutes. This film is rated PG-13 by M.P.A.A.

WITH: Kristen Stewart (Bella Swan), Robert Pattinson (Edward Cullen), Taylor Lautner (Jacob Black), Bryce Dallas Howard (Victoria), Billy Burke (Charlie Swan), Dakota Fanning (Jane), Peter Facinelli (Dr. Carlisle Cullen), Elizabeth Reaser (Esme Cullen), Jackson Rathbone (Jasper Hale), Kellan Lutz (Emmett Cullen), Ashley Greene (Alice Cullen), Julia Jones (Leah Clearwater), Nikki Reed (Rosalie Hale) and Anna Kendrick (Jessica).


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