I had the privilege of attending an advance screening of The Twilight Sage: Eclipse at Groman’s Chinese in Los Angeles with several fans and Twilight fansite administrators. We were not only treated to the movie, but also by a handful of the actors, including the big three who made their appearance via a surprise interruption during our viewing through the big screen and in the theater. They came from the Jimmy Kimmel Eclipse Special taping from across the street to treat us to a little wave or two during our movie watching experience. Nothing like a good appetizer! Now for my review. Warning: spoilers below…
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Seven months ago I was hugely impressed with the cinematic qualities of The Twilight Saga: New Moon, not to mention it’s many improvements in the acting, hair and make-up, and CGI. I was expecting no less from The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, but I never thought it could end up being the best of the 3 films so far.
Sure, the book itself is a fan favorite. How could it’s visual counterpart not be entertaining with the leg hitch, the tent scene, and all the grandiose displays of outrageous vampire and werewolf skills? I must say, however, that it wasn’t just those scenes that blew me away, it was the film in general. The Cullens are cooler, the wolves wolfier and the acting supreme. This visual experience is not just a fan treat, it’s a full-on dessert potluck of Twilight movie-goodness.
And you will walk away feeling like you just feasted.
First of all, you can lay all your fears to rest about whether or not David Slade was able to capture the romance burning from inside the love triangle. The first scene between Bella and Edward in the meadow alone was softer, slower and hotter than all the romantic scenes from Twilight and New Moon combined! There was great attention to detail. We know from following David on Twitter that he is a beautiful visual artist and we can see that eye for it in the shots of our favorite couple. The meadow is glittering with flowers and rays of sunshine, Edward is sparkling just enough (with no Tinkerbell noises – thank goodness!) and his and Bella’s interaction is intense but not overdramatic. It’s just perfect.
Don’t forget to bring a fan to the theater. Like, an actual blowy fan. You might need it during the leg hitch scene. I have to admit, in the book, that scene was the steamiest scene Stephenie has written for the Twilight saga yet (yes, even hotter than scenes from Breaking Dawn). And the scene from the movie? JUST. AS. HOT. Most of the scene and dialog is the same, however, he doesn’t crush the iron rose from the bed in his hand. The scene was so good though, I didn’t mind that they left that part out. The proposal is just as I imagined from the book, they were even on the same side of the bed as I’d envisioned so I truly felt I was “seeing” that chapter come to life.
Also, the tent scene is perfect. The big three are all positioned in the tent exactly how I envisioned from the book, the tension is extremely delicious and Jacob and Edward’s conversation has just the right amount of sarcasm and honesty. In fact, most of the greatness of the romantic scenes is attributed to the fabulous acting by the big three. There is no awkwardness and no cheese. Only sincere honesty. (3 cheers for great acting!)
I was a little disappointed with Jacob and Bella’s big kiss. With all of the flashbacks in this movie I was fully prepared to see a small flashfoward clip of two little mini-Jacobs running with mommy Bella in the background during the kiss, but not so (to my minimal dismay). The kiss itself was very passionate but not exactly like it plays out in the book with Bella’s hesitation at first and Jacob having to whisper in her ear and coax a good reaction out of her. No, it was all about the two of them really wanting it in the moment, which was still awesome to see.
Both Jasper and Rosalie’s flashbacks are extremely entertaining and very moving. Rosalie’s is very cliché with the whole “bride from hell” entrance as she haunts Royce. Everyone in the audience thoroughly enjoyed that bit. I also was totally pleased by her make-up this time. Nikki is always beautiful as herself but I must say her Rosalie this time was the breathtakingly gorgeous model we imagine from the books. Kudos to the makeup artists! Jasper’s hair was still kind of annoying but I’m dead serious when I say that you won’t notice AT ALL once you see him in his confederate get-up as he dismounts his horse by the pale moonlight. He is absolutely AMAZING and the Jasper fans are going to be very pleased. The scene near the end of his flashback when he realizes he has to kill one of his favorite newborns is so poignant and painful and beautifully acted by Jackson. I truly had no words after that scene passed.
His interaction with Alice is playful and intense, especially during their fight training. I think I was quoted as to saying it dripped with awesome sauce. It soooo did. It’s only shown briefly, but it’s perfect. Jasper’s interaction with Bella has just the right amount of tension and familiarity as he gets more use to having her around but still has to majorly keep himself from losing control. I was extremely happy to finally be able to see more of Jackson’s acting ability. He truly is a rising star.
Charlie is always a favorite and Billy Burke really stole the show for me. He has very few scenes but those he is in are genuine and subtle as always. My favorite was the scene in the kitchen with Bella when they are talking about her virginity. The whole audience was ROARING during that scene. The awkwardness was SPOT ON and you as an audience member suddenly remember with horrifying clarity the embarrassment you felt when you were Bella’s age about that subject mixed with your parents’ concern.
The wolf pack had more scenes as wolves than humans so the CGI team had to get the facial expressions even more expressive to really convey their thoughts and emotion in wolf form. I appreciated this and could even see a little more of the actor in the wolf than in the previous movie. Seth as a wolf is cuter than a bug’s ear and really has some great facial expressions near the end of the film.
The CGI also impressed me from the fights scenes, which seemed more real, and the effects of the vampires hitting and breaking. It reminded me of granite and marble mannequins pounding into each other and limbs and heads breaking off like giant pieces of chalk. It was a really impressive visual.
(Edit) As for the villians, Xavier Samuel is an excellent addition to the series and I was actually very sad to see his character, Riley, die at the end, even though I knew it was coming. The horrible way that Victoria treats him, you really start to feel sorry for the guy. Now I wish Stephenie could go back and rewrite his character’s ending, have him live, be adopted into the Cullen family and learn to be a veggie vamp. It would make up for Bree’s tragic end (okay, readers…who really LOVES to hate Jane after that scene? That little girl is the very FRUITS of the DEVIL!) I have to say that, although I love Bryce Dallas Howard and her grace throughout this whole Victoria/Rachelle thing, she just didn’t do it for me as Victoria. Rachelle WAS Victoria for me. Bryce still did a good job acting , she just seemed like a whole different villian altogether. My mind just couldn’t suspend my disbelief enough to see her as Victoria. But to be honest, it the grand scheme of the film upon first viewing, this mattered very little. During follow-up viewings it might start to annoy me. We’ll see.
Last but not least, the two most moving scenes for me were once again, because of great acting mixed with the beautiful strains of Howard Shore’s moving score. The scene where Bella goes back to visit her mother in Florida was nice in the book but elaborated on a bit more for the movie. The gift Rene gives Bella of the T-shirt blanket was especially significant to me because my own mother gave me a similar blanket made from memorable T-shirts from my childhood when I was in college, and the long hug between them really left me with the same feeling I get every time I hug my mom ‘goodbye’ and feel that bittersweet severing between mother and child. The other scene was between Jacob and Bella and I believe Kimmy from His Golden Eyes said this scene would have even the most loyal Team Edward fan in tears and she was correct. Not a dry eye in the house when Jacob lies on his bed with a broken body and a broken heart as he realizes his chance with Bella is truly gone forever. It feels as if there are not enough tears in the human body when you finally succumb to losing the one you believe should be yours forever. The pain of that never goes away and you can see it written all over Taylor’s young, wet face. His portrayal of Jacob in this scene is one for the record books.
I promise you will be so overwhelmed by this movie’s greatness you really can’t take it all in at once and will want to return to this Twilight feast again and again. Many thanks to David Slade, Melissa Rosenburg and Stephenie Meyer for a truly remarkable ride of a movie – the one we fans have been waiting for.
Eclipse is epic epicness.