The third in Stephenie Meyer's hugely popular supernatural romance series should sate a throng of supporters, some of whom having enjoyed the reissue of Twilight and New Moon.
The Twilight Saga: Eclipse stars Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, and Taylor Lautner, and is more inviting and eventful, especially for those unfamiliar to the string of books by the Phoenix housewife who has really made plenty of girls very happy having sold at least 100 million copies worldwide.
A little more spice in this installment comes by way of vengeance as new director David Slade (30 Days of Night) seems to use the Pacific Northwest Forks setting to greater dramatic advantage and less portentiousness when it comes to realizing the potential of how Meyer has engaged so many readers.
Using abstinence as a touchstone in the plotting, the confused and curious Bella Swan (Stewart, good in The Runaways) is nearing graduation in her hometown with her police chief dad (Billy Burke). Veteran producer Melissa Rosenberg adds a little more (not enough for some) immediacy as Bella's life is threatened again with mysteriously eerie killings in her area as a malicious vampire has an insatiable quest.
Necessary are the introductions as the Team Edward and Team Jacob rooters will be in full force - Bella's heart is torn between undead being still ungraduated Edward Cullen (Pattinson of Remember Me in white makeup and colored contacts) and Quileute (wolfpack) tribe member Jacob Black (Lautner of Valentine's Day). With love and friendship eating away at her in contemplating a fateful decision for family and friends was prevalent in the gloom of New Moon. Her decision would mark a significant personal metamorphosis through Edward's help and the Volturi as well as reigniting long-standing, if dormant conditions between vampires and werewolves.
In a broad, youthful cast with recognizable actors like Peter Facinelli, Oscar-nominated Anna Kendrick, and, notably, Dakota Fanning (also in The Runaways and more than holding her own opposite Stewart), the presence of the Volturi or something more inexplicable is manipulating the spry spirituality of the Cullens. Maybe akin to "The Golden Army" of the Hellboy films, vampires in oddly wild "Newborns" have turned and are most driven for blood lust in their earliest stages.
So, Slade is able to make the high school stuff gel reasonably well with the mystical and the developing triangle as a compromise between instinctual rivals is in the making (for a temporary alliance) with not just intent to be immortal Bella in harm's way.
There seems to be more at stake now with Bella needing to further comprehend the Quileutes (the wolves' brotherhood), and more subtext through those lke Jasper Hale (a watchable Jackson Rathbone) and Rosalie Hale (Nikki Reed).
As the ongoing fulcrum, Bella again is mostly understated by Stewart, but she, along with Pattinson and the often bare-chested Lautner, is attentive to narrative drive enough so to make the struggling teen well-spoken. And, she has the requisite scenes, lighter and more compact with Burke to keep the familial bond in perspective as she is confronted with the biggest decision of her life.
Besides Rathbone and Reedand Fanning's Jane, backup among a large group is featured from the likes of Xavier Samuel as Newborn leading Riley, while a steely sensual presence is endowed by Bryce Dallas Howard as the cougar-like Victoria.
In essence, Slade makes his stars shine through wiser harnessing of the script's assets and not atmospherically asphixiating. Henceforth, the craft contributions from the designer, the score and lensing in Vancouver with better special f/x especially in a contentiously vibrant last act often bring ominous vitality to the woody environment. Before "Breaking Dawn" unfolds in two parts (think "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows") over the next two years, a more artistic Eclipse finally thrusts a sauntering, languid saga out of its self-conscious, brooding doldrums with another third chapter (see Toy Story 3) exhibiting commerical prospects the movie business so desperately needs.