To be blunt it probably wasn't that tough an ask, but the third Twilight film Eclipse is by far the best of the
bunch thus far.
Running just on 124 minutes there's way more action, more shirt-deprived boys, heaps more high-quality visual effects - a key ingredient if you want the male half of the date-movie crowd awake and on side - and, most importantly, a major ramping up of the central romantic tension that defines the Twilight saga.
And the stakes are much higher this time around. A series of violent killings in nearby Seattle signals to the vampire brood in the secluded mountain-high hamlet of Forks that there's trouble a'brewin' - and it's heading their way with Bella in its sights.
It appears that Victoria (Bryce Dallas Howard, replacing Rachelle Lefevre from New Moon) is still a little upset that Edward tore her lover to shreds. So she commissions her infatuated lackey Riley Biers (Xavier Samuel) to raise a vicious army of "Newborns" - freshly recruited vampires - because that's when a vampire's physical
powers and killing instincts are at their strongest.
Her plan is to use them to exact some retributory dismemberment upon Bella, after which Victoria would presumably yell to Edward: "See how you like it!"
Her evil plan rouses the protective instincts in Edward and especially Jacob, who is convinced Bella's overt devotion to Ed is just her way of masking the fact that she really wants to be with him.
Looking much better than the first two episodes, the film is very briskly paced by director Brit David Slade (30 Days of Night, Hard Candy) and he even manages a surprisingly touching scene where Edward and Jacob discuss what good friends they might have been if they weren't natural enemies.
Regrettably, the Twilight vampi-verse still refuses to adopt any of the old-school tropes of vampire movies, but
those raised on classic vampire films such as Blacula and The Lost Boys will just have to accept the lack of cheesy fang-bearing or the sight of vampires exploding as they are pierced by shafts of sunlight. Sigh.
Like the first two films, Eclipse is set to be an instant worldwide smash, especially with young girls who find the
film's central values of abstinence, marriage and hot-looking guys who swear eternal devotion very attractive.
At the preview at Melbourne Central last night the film certainly proved a hit with its target demographic, which CineTopia found ably represented by three young ladies: Mae, Tobi (both 14) and Maddy (17).
Each "massive" fans of Twilight - Tobi has read all the Stephenie Meyer books - they thought the film was "fabulous", "brilliant" and, significantly, funnier. They moaned about that long stretch in New Moon where Bella does nothing but mope over Edward. They were all grateful that Eclipse at least had a few jokes in it. (Indeed, the best line in the film goes to Jacob when, in a wink to the audience, he tells Edward: "I'm hotter than you are".)
On the far more important issue of Edward vs Jacob, the film didn't shift the girls from their original positions before the screening. Mae remained undecided, Maddy still tended towards Edward while Tobi merely had her Team Edward membership confirmed.
However - and with the open admission that teenage girls probably know far more about this sort of thing than middle-aged film critics - Eclipse does seem to strengthen the case for Team Jacob.
Edward tends to lie to Bella while Jacob prefers hitting Bella with the truth, a far more admirable trait, especially for somebody who is so deeply and forlornly in love. Gratingly, Edward is a bit of a suck-up to Bella's dad - he gets her home right on time when she is grounded - whereas Jacob is the sort to break rules.
Also, Jacob keeps fighting for Bella's affection, even though she swears devotion to Edward. He won't accept that he can't win her over and keeps striving to prove himself. Does Edward have that kind of chutzpah? One gets the sense that if the positions were reversed Edward would simply concede and move on to the next attractive mortal - which might be a girl, but you're just not sure with Edward.
This is the other big thing counting against him, the possibility that he might switch sexual polarities on Bella. This would not only break her heart and trap her in a loveless marriage for all eternity, it would give Bella cause to launch a massive lawsuit in vampire court for breach of promise. You just can't see Jacob doing that. The dude's as straight as his eyebrows.
But the best endorsement for Team Jacob comes from Bella herself. In the film's final, flower-endowed scene she tells her fiance Edward: "This wasn't a choice between you and Jacob. It was a choice between who I should be and who I am."
And there you have it. It's the age-old romantic conundrum about which to follow, your heart or your head. Bella might think she knows what she's doing, but all the clues dropped throughout Eclipse say otherwise.
So, who would be better for Bella: Edward or Jacob? Why? Does Jacob's impulsive nature give him an advantage over Edward's cool?
Or is it the other way around?
And what did you think of Eclipse? How does it compare to its predecessors?