Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse

The Twilight Saga (“saga,” really?) encapsulates everything I hate about most book-to-film adaptations: if you haven’t read the book, you are completely out of the loop.

I haven’t read a single page of any of Stephenie Meyer’s insanely popular novels, but I have seen every minute of every film that has been adapted from them. Yet, I still feel two steps behind. I never know exactly what the hell is going on, which may be because I haven’t read the books, or it may just be the fact that nothing really happens in these movies.

My feeble attempt to reconstruct the plot goes like this: whiny Bella (Kristen Stewart) is still madly in love with stoic vampire Edward (Robert Pattinson) but not without constantly deflecting come-ons from cocky werewolf Jacob (Taylor Lautner). As a fresh new group of evil, just-turned vampires rip through Seattle, Edward and Jacob get their respective clans together to fight off the “Newbies,” who, I think, are ultimately out to kill Bella. Why? I have no idea.

But this storyline is merely a subplot, something to take up time between endless conversations that the three leads have. Roger Ebert has said it best about Eclipse: “For most of its languorous running time, [the film] listens to conversations between Bella and Edward, Bella and Jacob, Edward and Jacob, and Edward and Bella and Jacob.”

Mostly, these conversations take place between Bella and Edward. She wants to be a vampire. He wants to be married first. She wants to have sex (like... badly). He wants to be married first. Blah blah blah. Very little action occurs, and when it does, it’s usually bogged down by horribly unconvincing special effects.

There was one conversation so ludicrous I actually tried to write it down so I could quote it verbatim here. But, shame on me, I couldn’t keep up. Can you blame me? You try writing and laughing out loud at the same time. This particular exchange of ghastly dialogue is between Jacob and Edward who sit in a tent on top of a snowy mountain. Edward admits that if Bella wasn’t in the picture, he may actually like Jacob. I was waiting for Gustavo Santaolalla’s score from Brokeback Mountain to cue up.

Like most people who aren’t 14-year-old female teenagers, I’ve spent the majority of my time here criticizing Twilight. Sue me. I understand that these films target a very specific audience, and given its box office returns, it seems like the studio heads know what they’re doing. But the rest of us are left with a mumbled, incoherent franchise. It’s as if the only people in on the joke are the characters in the films and the diehard fans watching them.

Eclipse is the best Twilight movie so far; but oh how that is such faint praise. The next two films are being helmed by Oscar winner Bill Condon (Gods and Monsters, Chicago), so we’ll see how that goes. Maybe he’ll clue the rest of us in. But, let’s be honest, probably not. D