Chances are, right now millions of Twilight fans are standing in line, waiting to get into tonight’s midnight showings of Eclipse all over the country. But in today’s ultra-connected world, how do you find someone with no knowledge of Twilight, either the movies or Stephenie Meyer’s crazy-popular book series? Someone who doesn’t know that Edward Cullen is the vampire Romeo to the Juliet-esque Bella Swan. Someone who doesn’t know that Jacob Black is a member of the insanely loyal Quileute werewolf pack of La Push, Wash. Someone who doesn’t know that Alice Cullen sees the future, vampires like to play baseball, and you usually want to separate bloodsuckers and werewolves at picnics and other social gatherings. I mean, I’m a comic nerd and I know all these things! (Don’t judge. I can tell you’re judging.) Luckily, I didn’t have to go too far to find someone with no Twilight knowledge at all so she could watch the new movie Eclipse — the third in the series — with no preconceived notions or bias. Our own Laura Hoxworth was a total Twilight neophyte, and she attended an early screening last night of Eclipse to see if it could hold up as a movie for the masses or if it was for super-fans only. Read below for her thoughts.
Photos courtesy of Summit Entertainment
I am not a Twilight fan. I have not read the books, seen the first two movies, nor am I a member of either Team Edward or Team Jacob. Granted, Eclipse was probably not the best place to jump in, as it was not accommodating to newcomers. Several lines that caused the audience to roar with laughter only caused me confusion, and I still have no idea who the Volturi are. But going in with no preparation gave me an interesting perspective on the movie as it stands by itself, not in comparison to its predecessors.
Throughout the movie, the seemingly larger plotline of centuries-old rivalries and vampire revenge took an obvious backseat to the real plotline: the love triangle of teenage Bella (Kristen Stewart) and her two supernatural suitors, vampire Edward (Robert Pattinson) and werewolf Jacob (Taylor Lautner). I had to assume that all character development was taken care of in the first two installments, but to its credit, there is more depth to these relationships than I expected, especially between Jacob and Edward in the rare moments they connect over wanting to protect the girl they both love. Though the outcome was obvious, I found myself entertained, even empathizing with Bella’s predicament.
But enough about romance – isn’t this supposed to be the one with all the action? That’s what I thought, too. And it makes me wonder what the first two were like. If anything disappointed about this movie, it was the so-called “action.” An “army” of bloodthirsty vampires numbered maybe 15, and what was hyped as an epic battle turned out to be little more than a five-minute fight, so completely ruled by CGI that it somehow made werewolves vs. vampires surprisingly unrealistic. Not to mention that the Cullens’ ability to read minds and predict the future pretty much drained any potential for suspense, even for someone who didn’t already know what was going to happen.
The movie was not without its high points, however, even for a novice like me. The most refreshing moments were the scattered one-liners that poked fun at the series’ reputation, like Jacob’s “Face it, I’m hotter than you” jab directed at Edward (and referring to body temperature, of course). I laughed along with everyone else at that one.
As I filed out of the packed theater, I eavesdropped on giddy Twilight fans discussing how long they had stood in line (six hours seemed about the norm) and the tickets they had already bought to see it again. The question “Did you like it?” seemed to be negligible. My guess is that if you are a Twi-hard, it goes without saying you will enjoy the third installment. The drama, the romance, Edward’s brooding passion and Jacob’s rippling abs will not disappoint. If you’re looking to Eclipse to bring the series sophistication, surprise or nuance, you’re out of luck. But who really expected that? The movie deserves credit, if only because it doesn’t take itself too seriously or try to be anything more than what it is – a story of teenage vampire love.
So I may not be a Twilight convert yet. But if nothing else, I left the theater with a better understanding of why this franchise has become so rabidly popular – and it’s not the vampire battles, or even Robert Pattinson’s cheekbones. Underneath all the drama and camp, Bella is just an awkward teenager who wants to be somewhere she feels she belongs. And who can’t relate to that? – Laura Hoxworth