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Twilight Part III: This Is as Good as it's Going To Get

I'll be honest: after watching the horrendous and pretentious second installment of  The Twilight Saga: New Moon in cinemas, I avoided it's third installment, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse like a man with leper. I honestly believed that the next installment of the series couldn't get any worse than it already did with the previous two. I thought I was tapped out; I didn't think I could watch one more movie in which Stephanie Meyer continues her march of destroying the vampire mythology with glittering bloodsuckers moping around, doing fuck all that makes a vampire a vampire. I didn't think I could endure one more minute of the love triangle that's been formed, with Edward Cullen (the ever bland and charmless Robert Pattinson) and Jacob Black (the horrendous Taylor Lautner) fighting over Bella Swan's (Kristen Stewart) affections. I didn't think I could stomach Bella and her bullshit for another two hours, or watching semi-interesting supporting characters being wasted. So, I decided to sit this one out in the summer of 2010. Almost one year later, Eclipse was playing on Showtime late at night in the summer, so I decided to get stuck in and see what fresh hell this third installment had in store for me.

Stay away: Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson are trying to act!
Imagine my surprise: Eclipse is actually pretty decent. No, really! It's the best installment of this tedious series so far. The tone feels darker and there's a sense of urgency that British director David Slade brings to the table that didn't exist in Twilight or it's sequel, New Moon. It helps that Slade has experience with the vampire genre (the underrated 30 Days of Night) and knows how to make an audience squirm (his bone-chilling debut feature, Hard Candy). Here, he faces a more daunting challenge: injecting excitement into a franchise that's hell-bent on pleasing it's devoted fangirl base, cries of blandless, terrible acting, and abysmal pacing be damned. He is able to give the third installment a rush of excitement this franchise so desperately needs, but in unexpected ways. Slade finally shines some light on the supporting characters and how they became vampires, including Jasper (Jackson Rathborne) and Rosaline (Nikki Reed) and their backstories are interesting to watch. Jasper and Rosaline bring much needed depth to Stephanie Meyer's universe of bad-boy vampires who sparkle in sunlight, and there's traces of regret and pain in being an immortal bloodsucker, lives which the try to steer Bella away from. We even know more about the Wolfpack that's nothing more than clunky exposition and foreshadowing for the film's big climax, but i'll take what I can get. The antagonists this time around are even interesting and (surprise) act like god damn vampires! We are treated to scenes where Riley Biers (Xavier Samuel) and his small but lethal army of newborns feast on unsuspecting prey. Sure, it's all done in shadows and we don't see any blood being split  but again, i'll take what I can get. Vengeful nomad Victoria (now played by Bryce Dallas Howard, taking over for Rachelle Lefevre) creates this army of newborns to kill Bella for the death of her vamp lover, James and she sends them off to Forks to hunt her out. Psychic Alice (Ashley Greene) finds about this through one of her visions, so the Cullens and the Wolfpack put aside their differences and join forces to protect Bella from danger and death.

That's right: both tribes are going to risk their lives for one human, teenage girl. Why do they do this? Because Edward is in love with Bella, and is Jacob. Just when things are looking up, Eclipse reverts back into the same annoying, pretentious teen soap opera that most of the critics have bashed this film over. Here's the real plot of this movie in a nutshell:

Bella is in love with Edward; she want to marry him, and have him turn her into a vampire because she feels stronger and more complete with him by his side and that she's never felt normal.
Edward loves Bella, wants to marry her, but is hesitant to turn her into a vampire.
Jacob is in love with Bella, and wants her to leave Edward to be with him because he can give her a normal life and she wont have to change.

This obnoxious love triangle takes up half the film, including having shirtless, muscle hunks carry her from point A to point B. and more shirtless muscle hunks press their toned bodies up against Bella to keep her warm in the middle of a friggin snowstorm!

Pardon my French but  Fuck me!!!!

I've ranted and raved about my dislike about the character of Bella Swan in the last two reviews, but her dependence on males to help her run her life is frustrating in the extreme to watch! I've said many times that she has no personality or any resemblance of an identity outside of Edward, but apparently this extends beyond that sparkly little puss ball. Bella needed Jacob and her tribe of shirtless hunks just to stay warm in the wintertimie and to carry her to the camp site, among other things. In one scene, Rosaline admits her envious nature towards Bella because she's able to live a normal life and live it to the fullest, a comfort Rosaline will never have. she all but begs Bella not to let Ed turn her and regret it for the rest of her undying life, but at the enlightening age of 18, she already knows exactly what she wants because without him, her life is oh so bland and boring.

This goes far beyond the bullshit fairy tale of Cinderella and the rest of the Disney Princess line. I'd hesitate to even call this romance: this is the idea of love from the mind of a 14 year-old girl who thinks she's found her soulmate in the form of the mythical "perfect boy" who never has a fight with her, never says anything negative about her, always acts like a gentleman, never pressures her into having sex, and when they do get down and dirty, it ends with a life-changing, beautiful, passionate and amazing orgasm that in that moment, they both peer into each other's souls or some nonsense like that.

I've yet began to talk about what I think of Edward and Jacob, and they're not really that much different from one another: both buys are over-possessive, clingy, jealous douchebags who treat Bella like she's some sort of prize that the two nearly come close to trading hands over, and honestly nether person is really good for Bella because both sides are treating her like she's some sort of object that's to be won, and that is sending the wrong message to young girls who are watching these films. You can dress up this fairy-tale as this generation's Romeo and Juliet all you like, but when you start treating your female character like she's something to be won at the end of a long struggle for male superiority, that's not romantic: that's a one-sided love affair between the victor, and the victor's massive ego.

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse may be a step above the previous installments, but the larger problems of the series come bursting through: it's a misguided and deeply tedious and pretentious melodrama that not only sees its female protagonist as a teenage girl with no sense of who she is until Edward shows up, but has the two male protagonists arguing over her like she's something to be won, rather than a person, in a misguided attempt to fill this "romantic" drama with more tension. Tomorrow, it's Breaking Dawn: Part I and the end can't come soon enough.

** stars out of ****

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