I always make this mental comparison between Twilight and Harry Potter. Whereas the latter mostly concerns itself with an often-overwhelming (for the movie adaptations, at least) combination of wizardry and secrets, the back end of the movies have this little concern about Harry Potter growing up and falling in love and all that. Twilight takes the opposite route: there are vampires and werewolves, sure, but it all hangs in the balance of a very poorly construct human-vampire-werewolf love triangle.
And that’s what ultimately makes any Twilight film seem a bit flat for those outside the tween-girl demographic. The love triangle is pure nonsense because Werewolf Jacob really has nothing on Vampire Edward. If anyone who has any inkling of the series can’t just guess what’ll happen with the love interest(s) has a serious problem analyzing movie posters and seeing that most promotional material has helpless Bella absolutely smitten with Edward and flatly saying she loves Jacob, too, but a bit less.
One aspect about the series that, given it’s the year 2010, really grinds me is the puritanical stance related to sex. Yeah, there’s plenty of lip-locking time with Edward and, briefly, Jacob, but it’s almost stated as a given that Bella doesn’t want to have sex until she’s married. And it just so happens that she’s going to get married when she’s 17; that’s what age my grandmother was when she married, and even back then it was young by most standards, and that, too, was a no-sex-before-marriage sort of thing. So Eclipse takes the odd stance of allowing marital sex, but it doesn’t matter if you get that free pass because you’re married at a freakishly young age.
I guess a bonus point can be given for a very brief conversation in which Bella’s dad gives sideways permission for her and Edward to have sex as long as they use condoms, but the way Bella dismisses it is like she’s the one with this whitewashed, not-realistic-these-days stance. I know it’s been a criticism lobbied at Twilight and other inavoidable zeitgeists, like the Jonas Brothers and their Promise Rings, and how it’s an easy way to sell sex under the guise that it’s “safe” because there’s no explicit sex and there are silly rings and all that. (I won’t even get into the subconscious insanity of last year’s Jonas Brothers concert stunt of spraying hot
semen foam out of cannons onto their audience.)
But back to, you know, the movie, it gets into a talky dead zone that drags out the time to the mildly-enjoyable vampire-werewolf brawl climax. Film is visual, so you want to show things, but the way Eclipse is set up, it’s really hard to show the love that everyone keeps talking about. It only comes close when Bella is out camping, gets really cold, and shirtless Jacob has her cuddle up to him to get warm. But there’s no risk for Jacob, so that doesn’t go far showing that he does it because he loves her. Most of the movie is a lot of talk about love that goes in circles. Again, I have no inner tween to summon to come up with a defense of this.
The first Twilight worked pretty good. Like any superhero or supernatural saga, the origin story is always the best. There are the setup and the mysteries (and, in the first Twilight, a lot of sparkly vampires and vampire baseball). Then came the dragged-out, Romeo and Juliet-obsessed New Moon, and Eclipse straddles an uncomfortable line by killing off a villain that’s been dogging the vampires of the Pacific Northwest for the first three films and sort of shrugging its shoulders in a Now What? fashion before the probably-bloated two-part finale set to release far too soon.