For the two tortuous hours of “You love ME, Bella!” “No, you really love ME!” that is The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, I had plenty of time to stare longingly at the luminous green exit sign, contemplating an answer to the almighty question that has baffled millions across the globe: What is so damn phantasmagorical about Twilight?
Well, the obvious answer is because it stars teenage heartthrobs Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner. But I think there’s more to it than that. I think it’s because of the character Bella.
Perhaps it’s a result of Kristen Stewart’s utterly listless performance, but it seems as though Bella has been deliberately written in such a way that she is without any semblance of a personality and/or likable qualities. She’s a blank canvas; a vacant pair of sparkly shoes that screams out to the ladies, “WEAR ME!” All they have to do is slip them on and…viola! They’re suddenly the centre of the universe, with a dreamy vampire suckling on one shoulder and a hunky werewolf gnawing at the other, both of whom are willing to sacrifice ANYTHING to protect and serve their preccciousssss (i.e. you).
I can obviously see the appeal in that, especially for young and impressionable girls. Unfortunately for me, though, I have a penis. And therein lies the problem.
You see, there isn’t a single male character in the film that I envy in the same way women envy Bella. Sure, I’d love to be able to grate bricks on my chest like Jacob could, or maintain blemish-free skin despite a severe vitamin-D deficiency like Edward. But I certainly don’t want to actually be them. That would mean falling head over heels for an irritable and soulless trouble-magnet like Bella. No thanks; I prefer my women with personality.
So while teenage girls enter into a euphoric trance as their fantasies play out in front of them, pragmatic men and women are left to notice the film’s gaping flaws. Things like Kristen Stewart’s stilted, mumbled performance. The garish, flat dialogue. The mediocre special effects. The repetitive drone of the formless, unimaginative storyline that is essentially a repeat of the previous installment, New Moon.
In fact, the only real difference between the two films is that it is directed David Slade, a interesting choice given his background in dark adult films such as 30 Days of Night (also about Vampires) and Hard Candy. He brings a grittier edge to Stephenie Meyer’s material than Catherine Hardwicke (Twilight) and Chris Weitz (New Moon) did before him and captures the action with much more dexterity and even some thrills, making him the lesser of the three evils. There are fewer cringe-worthy moments too, perhaps because the actors are maturing in their roles, but more likely because I’m now desensitised to the supreme cheesiness of the series. This is a shame, actually; I always found the best part of Twilight to be the unintentional laughs. Aside from one joke about Jacob’s aversion to shirts, Eclipse is mostly humourless.
Jacob…wearing a SHIRT?!?
The direction may have improved ever so slightly, but Eclipse is just as banal as its predecessors in terms of story, with the constant to-ing and fro-ing of Bella, Edward and Jacob’s love triangle taking up most of the film’s laborious runtime. Sure, there are a few amiable romance scenes and even some back stories for the supporting characters, but all of these are handled extremely superficially and have little magnitude. By the 90 minute mark, you’ll realise the film has largely gone nowhere. In fact, Eclipse ends exactly the same way it began. No new revelations, no great developments and still no SEX.
By the end of the film, I was left feeling as though I deserved a t-shirt that read ‘I survived the Eclipse’. Twilight devotees, however, were beaming from ear to ear as though they’ve just spent the last 124 minutes riding a Unicorn across a rainbow made of pure happiness. It’s “the best yet!” apparently. Perhaps it is. But that’s like saying ‘A’ is the best form of hepatitis.
What’s Twilight Eclipse like from a female fan’s perspective? Find out here.