Twilight: Eclipse – Review

Twilight: Eclipse, the third film in the Twilight saga, opens much darker than the previous entries with someone or something chasing a young man down a shadowy alleyway in Seattle. We learn the young man is Riley (Xavier Samuel) and he is about to become a bloodsucker with the mission of taking out the Cullen family.

Too bad that tone didn’t stay throughout the movie because then Twilight: Eclipse would be much more than “just another Twilight film.” Unfortunately, before long it’s back to the love triangle of teenage angst-ridden Bella (Kristen Stewart), vampire Edward (Robert Pattinson), and werewolf Jacob (Taylor Lautner), with the same scenarios playing out over and over again: Bella wants to be a vampire, Edward doesn’t want her to be one, neither does Jacob but he still blames Edward, and so on.

Directed by David Slade, who did a great job adapting the vampire graphic novel 30 Days of Night (not to mention the indie thriller Hard Candy), I had high hopes for his vision with the story. I understand he has a demographic of teenage girls to appeal to but if he only kept more of that vibe from the opening this could have have won over an entirely new audience. The biggest draw for me from the last film, Twilight: New Moon, were the werewolves, yet here they are hardly around until the end.

A scene from ‘Twilight: Eclipse’. Courtesy eOne Films.

When it comes to the Twilight series they are mediocre movies at best filled with bad acting and writing. That said, there is something about them that draws me in, holds my interest, and keeps me watching. Halfway into Twilight: Eclipse I realized it’s because the series is the equivalent of a television show with each sequel playing out like a new season. Looking at it that way, this is the season that should have delivered more than it did but ended up being quite pointless (think season three of The O.C.). The characters didn’t grow, the story didn’t move, and it’s not going to be high on my list of flicks to watch a second time. I’m still hooked though and will tune in again next time because I need to know the fate of Bella, Edward, and Jacob.

Even if you hate the Twilight series it deserves to be recognized for the beautiful cinematography each film features. From the sweeping shots of British Columbia (which is the stand-in for Forks, Washington) to the soft close-ups of Bella and Edward, it’s stunning to look at and is truly a work of art with the camera. This is highlighted on Blu-ray with an excellent 1080p image and is truly the only way the film should be viewed at home. With a 5.1 DTS-HD mix the sound is also great, especially during the battle scenes where the werewolves are involved.

Special feature on the Blu-ray release include audio commentary with actors Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson, a secondary audio commentary with Twilight author Stephanie Meyer and producer Wyck Godfrey, a feature-length making-of documentary (that can also be watched in a picture-in-picture window as the movie plays), deleted scenes, a photo gallery, music videos from Muse and Metric, and more. A regular DVD of the film is also included.

Film *** Blu-ray *** (3 out of 5 stars)

Rated PG
Cast: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner
Directed by: David Slade

Xavier Samuel, Riley in ‘Twilight: Eclipse’ – Q & A

Xavier Samuel is the first person we see onscreen in the third chapter of the Twilight series, Twilight: Eclipse, as we witness his character Riley being attacked by a vampire, in turn transforming him into a powerful newborn bloodsucker. It’s a big role for the Aussie actor and has put him on the map to becoming the next hot star.

Bamcat.com spoke with Samuel about Twilight: Eclipse. Read our Q&A below.

Bamcat: Were you a fan of the Twilight series before getting the part?

Xavier Samuel: I knew that it was very popular and I had seen the lunchboxes and pillow cases, and it was on the back of buses everywhere, but I think I was the only one on the face of the planet who hadn’t read the books. So [when I got the part] I ran to the bookstore and read them very quickly and it’s safe to say I’m a big fan now.

Xavier Samuel’s ‘Twilight: Eclipse’ poster. Courtesy eOne Films.

Bamcat: What did you like most about the Riley character?

XS: The complexity of him. He’s not a two-dimensional villain — he’s still got human blood pumping through his veins. He’s kind of a tragic figure in a way because he’s being manipulated and seduced, and will do anything for love even if it means assembling a newborn army of bloodthirsty vicious vampires. He’s had his humanity snatched from him and as a result has this intense jealousy and rage.

Bamcat: Was it awkward joining the series as a new cast member?

XS: In theory, coming in as an outsider and playing a bad guy, you imagine you’d be ostracized. I was relieved that everyone was so down to earth and warmly welcomed me into the family.

Bamcat: What was the most challenging aspect of the film for you?

XS: The challenges were living up to the character and really delivering. So it was remaining as focused as possible and doing the best job as possible. And fighting with imaginary wolves of course.

Bamcat: Do you feel Twilight: Eclipse is different from the previous films?

XS: It’s more action-packed and the stakes are much higher now that Bella has this choice to make. One of the exciting things about the whole saga is that each time there’s a new director and they bring their own interpretation and aesthetic to the film. David Slade really has this fierce grip on the dark side of the film and if you watch something like Hard Candy, which was another one of his films, the performances are so well measured. He’s really an actor’s director [and] it’s really a film as opposed to a movie.

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Bamcat: How would you sell a non-Twilight fan on Twilight: Eclipse?

XS: This film in particular takes it to a new level and it stands on its own. Again, David Slade comes from a very different perspective than I imagine the other filmmakers come from so it’s exciting to have it in his hands. The chase sequences are awesome… everything about it I’m really proud of.

Bamcat: Have the Twilight fans embraced you?

XS: Because the character is so dear to everyone you sort of become them but I haven’t been mobbed yet or anything. I understand why people are so passionate about it. It is surprising in that the hysteria is unlike anything I’ve ever seen.

Bamcat: What will we see you in next?

XS: I just finished a Roland Emmerich film called Anonymous. It’s kind of a departure for him and is about the authorship of Shakespeare’s plays. I got the impression it was a story that was really dear to his heart and something he always wanted to tell. I play this guy called Southhampton and I have long, blond, curly hair. He’s really loyal and is a patron of the theatre but is staging a rebellion at the same time. It was a lot of fun to do.

Twilight: Eclipse is available on DVD and Blu-ray on December 4.