Director David Slade and screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg do a nice job of rounding out some characters who felt flat in Twilight and New Moon. In particular, Rosalie (Nikki Reed) and Jasper (Jackson Rathbone), both of whom were grating in the first two films, are tolerable and even sympathetic now that their histories are being explained. With the franchise's ever-growing budget, it's no surprise the action scenes are also much better this time around, with the vampire-and-wolf battle looking far sharper and intense than anything in Catherine Hardwicke's original Twilight movie. The Eclipse soundtrack is another compilation of indie-music darlings like Vampire Weekend and Sia, and it adds just the right note of angst and longing to accompany the high-stakes, high-drama proceedings (let's not pretend anyone actually thought any of these main characters would actually die -- that's just not Meyer's style).
As with any adaptation, not everything from the book makes the transition to the screen -- here, that means far less of the wolf pack, which is a shame, since their thought-sharing abilities and the inclusion of a female wolf, Leah (Julia Jones), are some of best parts of the Eclipse book. Jacob, of course, gets plenty of screen time, and Lautner shows more depth as he pines for Bella and declares that he will love her "until her heart stops beating" -- and possibly even after (Pattinson and Stewart, meanwhile, manage to look slightly less catatonic throughout the story). In a key scene, Lautner absolutely kills in delivering a line to Edward: "Let's face it, I am hotter than you." Wink, wink. Eye candy aside, Eclipse is the best of the Twilight movies yet and should dazzle the millions of devoted fans.