Eclipse review

A lot less cheese than New Moon…

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The Twilight Saga: Eclipse review: Twi-hards and dragged-along-boyfriends, rejoice! After the ponderous, dreary New Moon , The Twilight Saga has rediscovered its bite with a flick that ups the action, sex, pace and humour and ditches the constipated moping, flat gloss and atrocious CGI. Yay!

For the uninitiated: In Twilight , mortal klutz Bella (Kristen Stewart) fell for teen exsanguinator Edward (Robert Pattinson) and they pissed off a bad vamp, Victoria, by killing her mate.

In New Moon Edward dumped Bella, causing two cinematic hours of sulking and flirting with werewolf Jacob (Taylor Lautner) before the lovers were reunited when Ed dabbled with suicide by sunlight.

And now Eclipse , where Victoria (Bryce Dallas Howard, taking over from sacked Rachelle Lefevre) creates a neck-draining army to kill Bella and Edward, forcing the werewolf and vampire clans to team up for battle. And where Bella has some serious decisions to make…

Does she want an eternal, blood-lust life with the literally frigid Edward? Or a human existence with clothes-shirking, eager pup Jacob? And can she get Ed to swap gentle nuzzling for getting down and dirty?

Taking over from New Moon’s Chris Weitz, David Slade knows exactly what fans want and gives it to them. But this is the guy who brought us Hard Candy, so nothing’s going to go down without added edge.

Squeal-inducing close ups of real-life hook-ups Pattinson and Stewart kissing? Yes. Mooning over Lautner’s abs and pecs without acknowledging the inherent comedy in it? No.

Though he honours Stephenie Meyers’ beloved world, Slade recognises that solely pleasing an ardent fan base does not a great movie make.

Along with Melissa Rosenberg’s sassed-up script, he breaks the navel-gazing Bella POV approach to trace the story away from Forks and expand the action to more cinematic proportions.

He cracks the whip on dialogue delivery (no more the lip-biting, pause-filled painful chats), ensures tongue is in cheek for the more bromidic moments (“I’m hotter than you,” declares Lautner with a twinkle in his eye) and introduces a new vampire effect that makes the bloodsucker battle a T-1000-esque, genuinely involving affair.

Bella is feistier, the CGI wolves are better and there’s more Billy Burke bringing welcome world-weary humour. And, girls, the ‘leg lift’ is everything you’ve ever dreamed of. It’s hot.

But like its predecessor, it’s too long, the wolves are not quite good enough to fully convince and there’s some distractingly bad wig action going on.

Lautner merely channels Tom Cruise (poorly) in lieu of acting and some of Slade’s group shots look disquietingly like marketing standees or action figures (maybe that’s the snarky point?).

Though it’s certainly an improved experience for the non-devotee, Eclipse still isn’t likely to pull off what Weitz also failed to do – winning new fans of the saga.

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Editor-in-Chief, Total Film

Jane Crowther is the Editor of Total Film magazine and the Editor-in-Chief of the Film Group here at Future Plc, which covers Total Film, SFX, and numerous TV and women's interest brands. Jane is also the vice-chair of The Critics' Circle and a BAFTA member. You'll find Jane on GamesRadar+ exploring the biggest movies in the world and living up to her reputation as one of the most authoritative voices on film in the industry.