Critic-proof ‘Eclipse’ moves along the Edward-Jacob-Bella triangle
A young man walks out of a bar into the rain, the sort that looks like it would chill you to the core. Something whooshes by him. His fear increases. Another whoosh and he’s slammed against a wall. He’s panicking. Another whoosh and his hand runs red with blood. He is screaming in agony.
Then the logo for “Eclipse,” the third movie in the ever-critic-proof “Twilight” franchise. It’s a jarringly excellent opening, perhaps promising some true chills interspersed into the saga of 17-year-old Bella Swan of Forks, Wash., and the supernatural love triangle by which she loves to be exhausted.
But no, sadly. By far the most plot-servicing of the three movies, “Eclipse” is all connective tissue. All of the major characters are in place. The first movie introduced Bella (Kristen Stewart, the luckiest mediocre actress in the world) and her immortal beloved, Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson and his world-historical cheekbones), the sparkly vampire who adores her.
The second movie, “New Moon,” rounded out American-Indian werewolf Jacob (Taylor Lautner, glowering as always), who loves Bella nearly too well for his own good.
So the third moves things along, aided by director David Slade’s handheld camera-work.
There are more vampire-vs.-werewolf throwdowns, which feel ever more like gothy-mods-- vs.-earthy-rockers tantrums as flame-haired Victoria (Bryce Dallas Howard, replacing the far creepier Rachelle Lefevre) builds a vampire army to avenge herself upon the Cullens.
There’s more Bella-on-Edward or Bella-on-- Jacob necking as our heroine considers her options: everlasting love with the porcelain Edward, for whom she wants to become a vampire, or warm-blooded passion with the all-too-human Jacob?
There are more shirtless werewolves, who still look like a hardcore punk band about to play a matinee gig somewhere.
There are a few misfires. Howard sells Victoria’s evil about as well as her father could sell decadence — it’s just not in her skill set (yet?). And “Eclipse” makes even fewer concessions to the casual viewer than the second film. Coming into it cold is comparable to wandering into a third-season episode of “Lost.”
Speaking of the small screen, “Eclipse” feels less like a major motion picture and more like Night Three of an especially big-budget TV miniseries. This isn’t even really a knock. Slade knows that, however good the box office is, the movie houses are essentially a preview for the home video market, where the previous installments moved millions of DVDs in their opening weeks alone. This is melodrama designed for endless rewatching from the couch, where you can pledge allegiance to Team Edward or Team Jacob and pause it to let the screen linger on whichever kiss you choose. Rating: PG-13 for action, violence, sensuality. Running time: 2 hour, 4 minutes. Theaters: Alamo Lake Creek, Alamo South, Barton Creek, Chestnut Square, Cinemark Cedar Park, Cinemark Galleria, Cinemark Round Rock, Cinemark Southpark Meadows, City Lights, Dobie, Domain, Gateway, Highland, Lakeline, Starplex, Tinseltown Pflugerville, Tinseltown South, Westgate.
‘Twilight’ fans wait in line to see ‘Eclipse’ during a special screening of all three movies at the Alamo Drafthouse. The movie opened Wednesday.