A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the third installment in the Twilight movie phenomenon is more mature than its predecessors but ultimately still age-appropriate for teens. As always, it's critical that parents understand that the story's central relationship is extremely intense -- almost to the point of addiction or obsession -- with Bella more than willing to forsake everything (even seeing her parents again) to turn into a vampire and join Edward for eternity. There's more vampire-on-vampire and wolf-on-vampire violence this time around; the climactic battle scene includes bloodless decapitations, dismemberments, and close-contact fighting. Compared to the first two movies, there's also quite a bit more sexuality -- with several passionate kisses and a frank discussion about virginity and first times. All of that said, like Stephenie Meyer's Twilight books, Eclipse has very little swearing and, except for one flashback scene, no drinking.
What's the story?
The third adaptation based on Stephenie Meyer's phenomenally popular Twilight book series, THE TWILIGHT SAGA: ECLIPSE settles once and for all whether Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) prefers her men primal and hot (Taylor Lautner's werewolf Jacob Black) or perfect and cool (Robert Pattinson's vampire Edward Cullen). At the beginning of Eclipse, Edward tries to keep Bella from seeing Jacob "for her own safety," but she "defies" his wishes and hangs out with Jacob (who's obviously in love with her) anyhow. As Bella is set to graduate from high school, prescient vampire Alice (Ashley Greene) sees an army of newborn vampires led by vengeful Victoria (Bryce Dallas Howard) and enigmatic Riley (Xavier Samuel) wreaking havoc by feeding on humans and heading toward Forks to destroy Bella and the Cullens. Eager to defend Bella, Jacob pledges his wolf pack's help to defeat the newborn army. Bella finds her self not only at the root of a complicated fire vs. ice love triangle but also a tenuous alliance between natural enemies. What's a clumsy girl to do? (You probably already know.)
Is it any good?
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.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Bella and Edward's relationship. In this movie, they discuss not only having sex (she wants to now, he wants to wait) but getting married. What are Bella's reasons for wanting to marry and "be turned" so quickly?
Is Bella and Edward's romance a good role model for teenagers? Jacob tells Bella she would never have to change for him, but she still chooses Edward, for whom she must transform into a vampire to be with eternally. Do you think she made the right choice?
Book fans, what do you wish had been included in the movie? What are the most important things from the Breaking Dawn book that you want featured in the final two Twilight movies?
Talk about the larger-than-life phenomenon that the Twilight franchise has become. Are the movies and their stars becoming too overexposed?
- In theaters: June 30, 2010
- On DVD or streaming: December 3, 2010
- Cast: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner
- Director: David Slade
- Studio: Summit Entertainment
- Genre: Thriller
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy
- Run time: 124 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: intense sequences of action and violence, and some sensuality
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