Eclipse (2010)
By: J.R. McNamara on February 10, 2011  | 
DVD
Sony | Region B | 2.40:1, 1080p | English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 | 124 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Credits
Director: David Slade
Starring: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Xavier Samuel, Bryce Dallas Howard
Screenplay: Melissa Rosenberg
Country: USA
External Links
IMDB Purchase YouTube
Tremble in fear, dear reader, as it is that time again - time for another film in the Twilight series to be reviewed for the romantically inclined at Digital Retribution!

This chapter, based on the books Eclipse and The Second Life of Bree Tanner (well some elements of it anyway) is directed by David Slade, who took over the reins from Chris Weitz who was still finishing New Moon when filming was to begin. And thank goodness too, as David Slade's direction is leaps and bounds ahead of Weitz's. Sure the director of Hard Candy and 30 days of Night once claimed he would never do a Twilight film, but as the saying goes, one should never say never, especially if career boosting exposure and a big pay cheque may be the result!

This film sees the character of Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) finally having to make a choice between vampire Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) or werewolf Jacob (Taylor Lautner). The choice she makes is obvious, but the love-triangular road has its peaks and troughs, with borderline romantic comedy elements along the way. Of course, some knowledge of the previous films is necessary to truly understand their romance, as well as the entire history of the Cullen family, and the treaty with the clan of werewolves living close by, not to mention the law keeping Volturi - vampires who make sure the or legend is kept firmly under wraps.

This romantic element is but one of the plots wandering through the wilderness of the town of Forks. We also have Victoria (now played by Bryce Dallas Howard after the sacking of the eternally sexy Rachelle LeFevre) who is still burning with the desire to kill Bella after the death of her lover at the hands of Edward, but this time she uses the fine art of manipulation to get what she wants.

She turns a young man, Riley (The Loved Ones' Xavier Samuel) into a vampire and uses him to gather forces by turning humans into 'Newborns' - the most dangerous of vampires as their self-control is lacking and they tend to be filled with bloodlust - so they can descend upon the town of Forks en masse to kill the entire Cullen clan. What she doesn't realise however is that Bella's link to both vampire family and werewolf clan may cause a defending army of temporary allies to form as well.

David Slade's film has a visual style similar to Catherine Hardwicke's first film; that cool, moist, pine fresh look, but this is something he is able to do with great skill. I almost felt the cold of 30 Days of Night, so clearly the ability to create atmosphere is a gift he possesses.

He is also able to pull much better performances out of the actors. In some cases, the performances in previous Twilight films have felt a little like amateur night, but either all the actors really concentrated in acting class for Eclipse, or the director was able to drag out better performances from them all.

Slade's love of classic horror lives within this film as well: the first appearance of the vampire army emerging from the water in Forks bears more than a slight semblance to a similar scene in Carnival of Souls, or for younger viewers, Land of the Dead.

So far this has been a Twilight film I have been able to swallow. Am I getting softer in my old age? Perhaps, but also this film offers two things to balance the schmaltz and romance that bogged the others down: a sense of humour, and some pretty cool fight scenes. The CGI wolves looks much better, though they still lack realism, but the rest of the CGI, and some of the sets, are absolute magic! Sure, the complete abandonment of the 'true' legends of vampires is still an affront to any genre fan, but at least the film felt more like a cinematic experience this time. This biggest problem is the fact that being a part of a 'saga' you have to wallow through some utter shit to find a piece of gold hiding underneath.
Video
Impeccable, flawless, a triumph of Blu-ray technology! This film is presented in High Definition, 1080p 2.40:1 widescreen and I found it to be quite possibly one of the most impressive BD images I have seen.
Audio
Matches the image in its excellence. If any of the characters had have been wearing corduroy pant you would even had heard the 'crr crr crr' of their thigh brushing together. The sound is presented in DTS HD Master Audio 5.1.
Extra Features
Well, the guys in the extras department went nucking futs with this one and have supplied Twilight fans, and detractors who review, with a pirate's cove of extras.

The making of 'the Twilight Sage: Eclipse' is one of the more thorough makings of that I have ever had the pleasure of viewing. It features interviews, obviously with glowing opinions, with many members of the cast and crew who discuss their various crafts and what they brought to this film.

It is divided into 6 chapters:

Introducing David Slade which is not your typical massive blowjob by the cast but instead sees Slade himself talk about his craft, with the occasional mini-fellating by various cast members thrown in.

Pre-Production: Setting the Stage is a look at some of the sets from the film, and I was totally blown away by some of the exteriors that were built and filmed on soundstages; the guys who provided their set-building skills to this film were amazing. It also looks at two of the major props, being Bella's wedding ring and the Quilt made of T-shirts. I think one of the T-shirts, one celebrating a chainsaw carving festival, may have been a tip-of-the-hat to Cherie Curie of the Runaways. You should know why!

The Heart of Eclipse is a look at the relationships of the films so far. Obviously the Bella/Edward/Jacob triangle is the feature, but it also look at the origins of other family members, which gives something of an insight to their opinions of Bella.

The Dark Side of Eclipse looks at the manipulations and intentions of chief baddie Victoria, her lieutenant Riley and their army of newborn vampires.

Lights, camera, Action looks at the actual filmmaking process. It discusses the costuming, cast, color choices and all that jazz, with Slade providing insights into why he made some of the decisions he did.

Post Production - Leaps in Technology looks at the special effects team, and what they could do to make the CGI not look as shite as it did in the previous film. It is still pretty bad and hyper-realistic at times, especially the werewolves, but the creative processes are interesting.

Music Clips has some tunes to sit in a warm bath and dig into your wrist with a rusty butter knife to with Neutron Star Collision by Muse and Eclipse (All Yours) by Metric.

There are 2 deleted scenes and 6 extended scenes with director's commentary. As usual, the film survives intact without them.

There is a superfluous photo gallery in the format of a slideshow with music. Why these DVD and BD companies persist in wasting space on discs with this sort of crap instead of, say , the trailers or a promotional poster gallery is beyond me.

Jump To is a feature which allows the Team Edward/Jacob tragics to automatically fast forward the film so they can watch just the scenes with their favourite guys in them. Mind you, I imagine these people would also be the same ones who would criticise me for fast forwarding porn to the sex scenes. Double standards are rubbish!

There are two commentaries on the film: the first is by Pattinson and Stewart and is laden with personal jokes and references. It felt like we shouldn't be watching it with them. A small bit of information can be gleamed from their commentary but mostly it is a waste of time. The second one is with Book Author Stephanie Meyer and Producer Wyck Godfrey. This is a commentary worth listening to as it discusses many aspects of the filmmaking and writing processes.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
Well, I have to say I finally found an instalment in the Twilight saga that I actually enjoyed. It still doesn't sit highly respected in my cinematic collection, but at least the acting quality was of a higher level, the cinematography was breathtaking and the story was engaging. Don't get me wrong, I am not going to be joining Team Edward or Jacob anytime soon (though if Team Alice is accepting members I could possibly be convinced) and I won't be camping out at the cinemas for the next instalment, but at least I won't be dreading it like I did this after being tortured by Chris Weitz's New Moon.

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