It’s had its share of detractors and naysayers, but Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight Saga has become a bona fide cultural phenomenon, a popular and lucrative franchise that has raked in over $2 billion at the box office and spurred a renewed obsession with vampires and werewolves. Unfortunately for its fans, however, the series will draw to a close this weekend with the release of its final chapter, Breaking Dawn, Part 2. As such, we thought it would be a good time to hunker down and examine what it is, exactly, that makes the series such a hit. To that end, we’ve commissioned two dedicated RT staffers — one fan and one neophyte — to trade observations on The Twilight Saga. Today, we bring you part two of the discussion, which focuses on the third installment, Eclipse:
Cat: Out of the three films, this is my favorite thus far. Maybe third time really is the charm. I’m not sure if it was the storyline or director David Slade, but this film addressed a lot of the issues I’ve had in the two previous films. There’s a lighter tone and their characters seem a little more their age by making fun of themselves. From Bella’s comment about getting married at her age signifying she’s knocked up, to Edward’s comment regarding Jake’s lack of clothing in the torso area — “Doesn’t he have a shirt?” — to the pack members picking on Jake about his obsession with Bella, a number of things added a realistic quality to the three main characters and, in turn, to the film itself.
Jeff: There’s no doubt that Eclipse is a far more enjoyable viewing experience than New Moon or Twilight. By relying more on action and humor — and broadening the focus to let the spotlight shine on some of the supporting characters — it hints at something more than the soggy melodrama that weighed down the first two films. It’d be nice if it did something more than hint, but at this point in the series, I’m happy to get anything more compelling than moping and mooning.
C: At last, her parents seem worried about how attached Bella is to Edward. Between her mother expressing her concern, to her father attempting to give her “the talk,” (which was as cringe-worthy as I imagine the opposite sex parent trying to do this with their teenager can be) they finally act and feel like parents.
J: I felt the same way. The interlude with Bella’s mother was particularly nice, especially since it’s always nice to see a little sun and hear a little normal conversation in these movies. Even if it’s never believable enough to carry any real dramatic weight, all this silly supernatural anguish starts to feel oppressive after awhile.
C: I must say the icing on the cake has to be that after all this time we saw some backstory on the wolves and how Jasper and Rosalie were turned into vampires. Even better would have been Alice’s story since she’s more central to the plot, but I’ll take what I can get with this franchise. And then who can forget the lovely Anna Kendrick being the voice of reason during her graduation speech? For a split second, Bella was considering what her long forgotten friend Jessica was saying. She may not consider Edward’s feelings, but at least someone got her to contemplate her rather rash decision to become a vampire.
J: I don’t need anyone to consider Edward’s feelings — Bella’s so obviously, profoundly out of her depth that I can’t fathom how he can even consider doing this to her — but it definitely felt good to hear Kendrick providing the voice of reason during her graduation speech, although it’s frustrating to hear the words “this isn’t the time to make hard and fast decisions,” and to know the movie means them expressly for Bella, when that point of view is given such short shrift during the rest of the series. At every other moment, she’s bafflingly insistent on joining the ranks of the undead; it’s only during this one moment that we see her briefly question the logic of, you know, becoming a vampire.
C: Eclipse isn’t without its faults. It’s baffling how two supernatural entities with centuries of hatred manage to band together for the life of one girl. What makes her so special?
J: I know I’ve been saying this all along, but this is the fatal flaw of the Twilight series for me. Bella is a vacuum at the center of everything, and Stewart’s dead eyes and flat line readings belie the lack of a true character there; it probably works better on the page because the reader can more easily project his or her own emotions onto the characters, but on the screen, it’s often just nonsensical.
C: And then there’s something called imprinting. I agree with Bella when she said: “Do I even want to know what that is?”
J: I actually didn’t mind that scene, because I thought it gave Lautner a chance to do some nice acting with his eyes instead of his biceps, and his forced admission that he hadn’t imprinted on Bella was, I thought, kind of a tacit illustration of how he’s really just a kid. He knows he can’t have what he wants — and he understands, on some level, that it isn’t even right for him — but he’s pursuing it anyway, because that’s the stubbornness of youth. In that way, he really is better for Bella — Edward is over 100 years old, but he’s often childishly jealous.
I can’t believe I just put that much thought into these characters.
C: Jake and Bella were a mess together in this film. The fact that she’s supposed to be in love with Jacob as well is really never clearly conveyed. It’s very forced by these two because that’s what the script said — it’s as if Stewart’s real-life relationship with Pattinson is in the way of her acting within this love triangle. For me, it’s clear Edward was always her choice and her only true love. I feel really bad Jacob sticks around through all the shenanigans she involves him in, and lines like “Let’s face it, I am hotter than you” simply degrade the decent character he was in New Moon.
J: That line didn’t bother me, but the “triangle” here did, because it’s constructed entirely out of narrative gimmicks and Bella proving she’s an awful, manipulative person who has no compunction about driving some poor kid to the emotional brink but lacks the courage to deal with the consequences. In a sane fictional world, after Bella said “Jacob, kiss me,” all the werewolves and vampires would have banded together to kill her.
C: Going into Breaking Dawn: Part 1, I’m intrigued by what Jane’s agenda is since she knew Victoria was creating an army all along, yet kept it from the rest of the council. Is this the Volturi’s agenda as well, or is Jane flying solo on this?
J: That’s definitely one of the more interesting questions raised by Eclipse, which means the answer probably won’t even be hinted at until the final 20 minutes of Breaking Dawn Part 1. I’m sure we’ll have to sit through 100 minutes of wedding planning first.
Written by Jeff Giles and Catherine Pricci