Congratulations, Twilight: Eclipse. You didn’t manage to suck as much as the first two entries into the franchise. Of course, that’s like wereboning a geriatric with dementia during a rare moment of lucidity. Sure, he remembers your name, but he’s still a wheezy, barely erect sag-ass bag of flesh and bones with old-man balls. But that’s not stopping over half of the critical community from tea-bagging the old fuck. Why? Because the standard set by the first two movies is so low that we’re supposed to feel blessed because the dude put in his dentures, metaphorically speaking, never mind that the teeth marks he left on your back are covered in Polident.
But this is where we are now. The bar has been set so goddamn low that we’re rewarding people for waking up on time, even if they don’t show up for work. We’re thanking dolts for not being subhuman morons. What? You get a C+ now for writing your name on the exam? Thanks for showing up, motherfuckers. A for effort. And I love the way your outfit shimmers under the fluorescent lighting, you tiny-brained douchevillians.
I’ll grant Eclipse this: David Slade (Hard Candy, 30 Days of Night) made what was perhaps the absolute best movie he could’ve made given what he had to work with, which is like conducting an orchestra of kazoos. It may be Beethoven’s 9th, but it’ll still make your brain bleed out your ears. This is what it’s come to: After the surprising runaway success of the first Twilight movie, when the producers were considering replacing Taylor Lautner, Lautner convinced them to keep him on. Not because he’d become a better actor — the dude couldn’t sell a line to a Wall Street broker in the ’80s — but because he’d work out more. Congrats, Lautner; now the undeveloped brains of 15-year-old girls don’t even notice that you have all the charisma of a vacuum in a flea market showroom because they’re blinded by your goddamn nipples, and the 40-year-old sexually unfulfilled moms who do recognize your lack of talent don’t give a shit because they just came in their theater seats.
Robert Pattinson is only marginally better. At one point in Eclipse, he attempted to smile and I discovered that you could reproduce the feeling of fingernails on a chalkboard inaudibly. Indeed, the sparkly vampire sock puppet has all the talent of a bag of syphilis with none of the itchy emotive ability.
Then there’s Kristen Stewart. Now, there’s some actressin’, if you consider stumbling through a movie looking as though someone is trailing you with a stink finger under your nose as actressin’. Thankfully, someone must have told her to cut out all the lip biting, but in Eclipse, left with nothing to gnaw on, she wears a perpetually vacant gaze that’s half aw shucks and half disdain, delivers lines as though they’re missing vowels, and throws herself at anything that will pay her insecure little head a bit of goddamn attention. How’s that for female empowerment?
But the real terror of Eclipse is in the script of Melissa Rosenberg, who managed to take the unintelligible and horny scribblings of a housewife intoxicated by the fumes of the Hershey swits in her husband’s Mormon undergarments and make them more lifeless and even less coherent. I’ve seen more inspired marriage proposals on a baseball scoreboard in between innings. There’s better writing on the pee-stained walls of a bathroom stall in a Pennsyltucky honky tonk. And to demonstrate to what lengths the story goes to breathe new life into a love triangle that’s already been straight-lined, at one point in Eclipse, a shirtless Jacob is left with no choice but to spoon Bella overnight in full view of her fiancé because Edward’s body heat is not enough to keep Bella warm, a situation that could’ve otherwise been remedied by another goddamn layer of clothing (or perhaps, Jacob could’ve loaned Bella that shirt he so obviously never intends to wear).
But the cinematography is gorgeous, people. You’re a star. Awesome. You managed not to wet yourself.
To fully understand what’s going on in Eclipse, you’d need to get inside the post-adolescent mind of a discontented teenage girl with no real sexual outlets. Superficially, at least, it’s about Victoria (Bryce Dallas Howard), the super-fast redheaded vampire, and her attempts to avenge the death of her former lover at the hands of the Cullens. To do so, Victoria runs really fast to Seattle, where — with the assistance of Riley Biers (Xavier Samuels) — she forms an army of newborns, or recently turned vampires, with the intention of using them to slaughter the Cullens.
Meanwhile, back in Forks, Washington, the po-dunk vampire breeding ground capitol of the world, Bella is forced to make a decision that it seems like she’s already made several hundred times already: to choose between her love of Edward and her friendship with the heartbroken Jacob, who essentially attempts to win Bella’s affection with date-rapey advances. Bella, of course, is still a little torn between the vampire she loves and the werewolf that forces himself upon her. She also has to contend with the fact that, after graduation, she plans to marry Edward and convert to vampirism, which will give her eternal life, but it also means she’ll miss her Daddy. Oh, and she also wants to give up her V-Card to Edward, but Edward’s too much of a goddamn gentlemen to give her the milk before she buys the undead bloodsucking cow.
Everything, of course, is leading toward the final showdown between the newborns (secretly backed by Jane (Dakota Fanning) and the Volturi) and the Cullens, who have unexpected allies in that battle in Jacob and the rest of the werewolves, who have decided to put aside their bloody centuries-long differences because Bella is a really swell girl who looks great in jeans and a hoodie. The protection of Bella is paramount here because, if she were to be gleefully torn to shreds by Victoria, then the rest of the world might no longer be threatened by a vampire uprising and the truce between the Cullens and the werewolves would no longer be in danger. But that would also mean two fewer installments to the franchise, and that would be unconscionable.
Lookit: No one in their right head would contend that Eclipse is not better than Twilight and New Moon, and that’s thanks entirely to David Slade, the alabaster gorgeousness of the severely underused Bryce Dallas Howard, and a decent — if not too short — battle between the vampires and the werewolves, which features some fairly spectacular bloodless decapitations. But better does not equal good. And I’m not about to bend to the massively popular will of the Twilight franchise because they upped their game from worthless to feeble-brained. We don’t give out gold stars to most improved pieces of shit because someone actually managed to land one in the toilet. At the end of the day, I’m still going to flush it down into the sewer where it belongs. But like the most stubborn of turds, it will no doubt float back up to the top. And someone, I’m sure, will be there to applaud its buoyancy.