The Twilight Saga: Eclipse is the third film in the ultra-popular franchise. Following on from Twilight and New Moon, Eclipse moves the action onto a new group of vampires spawned under the leadership of franchise newcomer Xavier Samuel. Unlike the previous two films which concentrated solely on Bella’s (Kristen Stewart) relationships with Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) and Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner), Eclipse moves the series more toward action as the werewolves and the Cullen family need to work and train together to defeat the oncoming ‘newborn’ army.
Bella’s life is endangered by an army of new-born vampires created by Victoria (Bryce Dallas Howard) and under the leadership of Riley Biers (Xavier Samuel). The Cullen family and the werewolf pack of Forks, Washington put their differences aside to join forces to try and defeat the new-borns, who have links to the Volturi family in Italy as they are wached by Jane (Dafota Fanning). Jasper (Jackson Rathbone), who was a military officer in his pre-vampire life is chosen to train the Cullens and werewolves.
The strongest of the series so far, Eclipse has more action than either of its predecessors, which reduces the amount of longing looks and romantic overtones that hampered Twilight and New Moon. Samuel is interesting and bristling with raw rage and aggression, which makes him more intriguing than both Edward and Jacob. The supporting cast as a whole get more screen-time, which works nicely as they all have interesting stories of their past to tell, which helps fill-out the loosely developed background of the franchise.
The main love triangle proves more interesting with Stewart, Lautner and Pattinson all developing their characters nicely, dispensing some of the melodrama of previous instalments and importantly injecting some humour into their usually stilted dialogue (“Doesn’t he own a shirt?” muses Edward upon seeing Jacob shirtless again). The action is still interesting enough, and the overall tone is more cynical and bitter than ever before which helps to add a level of realism that was missing previously. It still struggles in the intimate moments and after three films, Bella’s indecision between the two male leads becomes more than a little frustrating.
Overall the series has finally dragged itself into the blockbuster slot that its box office performance suggested it was. Gone is the over-reliance on melodrama and terrible dialogue and the action quota has increased suitably to not be considered a soppy romance film. For once the audience isn’t left completely disappointed as we have a passable film, which sets up the two-part finale well.