By Gary Murray

Starring Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart and Taylor Lautner

Directed by David Slade

Written by Melissa Rosenberg

Based on the novel by Stephanie Meyer

Running time 126 min

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Selig Rating: Cable

In full honesty, I hated the first Twilight film. I found a vegetarian vampire to be stupid. Edward was a drippy dope and Bella a whiny little Goth princess. The vampires were wimpy and the big action scene was a baseball game. I want my bloodsuckers full of hate and venom, ripping out jugulars in a gory orgy of violence. The second film was much better. The addition of Jacob and the werewolves gave some much needed conflict and action. All the elements are back in the third part of the series The Twilight Saga: Eclipse.

The movie opens on a dark and stormy night. A young man is wandering around the docks and is attacked by some unseen force. It ends with him in agony, screaming to the heavens.

Then we get to our main characters. Bella (Kristen Stewart) and Edward (Robert Pattinson) are lying in a flower filled meadow. She reads poetry and they are very much in platonic love. Bella is to be turned once she graduates and Edward doesn't want to perform the deed. He knows exactly how much pain being undead will reek on her life, him wanting to spare her any discomfort. There is still a very uneasy truce between the vampire clan and the werewolf clan, both staying on their side of the forest. Jacob (Taylor Lautner) still pines away for Bella and resents Edward. Jacob believes that Bella is under a spell and she has no free will to make the right choice, the choice being him.

Into the mix of the love triangle is a series of murders in Seattle. Known only to the vampire Cullen clan, an army of young bloods—new vampires—is being created in the city. No one knows the how or the why for sure but it all seems to come back to a revenge plot by vampire Victoria against Edward. In a previous flick, Edward killed James who was Victoria's mate. Now, the vampires and the werewolves must ban together in a super pack to protect Bella from the horde of bloodsuckers. The Twilight Saga: Eclipse is of how Bella is protected by Edward and Jacob, two very different men who both love the lovely lass.

The three leads are becoming comfortable with their roles. It has taken some time, but they all finally look comfortable saying the corny dialogue. The scene were all three have to share a tent gets some much needed comic relief and comfort between the principles. The enemy of my enemy is my friend may be a mantra, but the two Alpha males still keep a bitter wall between them.

The choice that Bella has to make is an interesting one and it is not as simple as vampire or werewolf. The choice is about the inevitable outcome of her life. If she chooses to be with Edward, it is a cold existence of death. She will eventually see everyone that she has known or loved die. She will also have to leave the world of the living and live in a world of vampires, a never aging existence. As we see through a series of flashbacks with other characters, it is not the perfect way to roam the planet. If she goes the Jacob route, she will grow old and die maybe missing out on the love of a lifetime. Ah, teen angst does have its charms.

What the film truly needed was more action. It starts out strong and spooky then turns maudlin. The film would have been better served with more fights and less gooey eyed stares. We did learn two valuable lessons in dealing with young bloods—never let young bloods wrap their arms around you and never go for the easy kill. The last big battle set piece works on every level, it just takes too long to get there.

The element that was the most surprising was the morality of Edward. We find out for sure that the two leads are as pure as the snow tops of the mountains they hide out in. In a real world of wanton pleasure that happens at the stroke of a computer keyboard, it was refreshing to see some old fashioned morality, initiated by the male.

The Twilight films are not made for me, a middle-aged white guy. These films are made for the females, both young and old. It has dreamy guys that love a fairly plain girl. There is almost enough action to keep the males interested, those poor saps who are dragged along to see the flick. The other problem with the film is that it doesn't hold up as a separate entity. One really has to have seen both of the other episodes in order to understand this third time out. Without knowing all that has happened before, one would be lost.

These flicks are critic proof. No matter what I say, the kids will flock down to the multiplex to get the latest installment of their soap opera. It is a soap opera in the same vein as Dark Shadows four decades ago. The Twilight Saga: Eclipse is going to make a load of cash, no matter what any other person says. While not a bad bit of entertainment, it just doesn't hold up on its own.

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