04 July, 2010

My Eclipse reactions and ponderings- Finally!

Alrighty, I've seen Eclipse (finally... stinkin' UK delayed release...) and I am pleased, bordering on impressed, with the film's final product. The progression of the talent, the story development and the improved tone were most impressive to me.

The first thing I'm impressed by how much they were able to fit into a two hour film in order to provide background information, plot progression information, and fan-demanded information. Let's review: trip to Florida, virgin conversation, proposal, tent scene, Jasper's background, Rosalie's background, Leah's backstory, reiteration of main points like talents, wolf telepathy, body heat, the make out scenes, punching a werewolf in the face, the jealousy and anger of the Volturi, Riley and Victoria's messed up relationship...

The list goes on. I'll go into a few comments though in my normal manner.

The storyline- cheers cheers cheers to Rosenberg. She had a lot of ground to cover, and she did it well. The story progressed smoothly, and I was most impressed by the one-liners that, ironically, were not in the book, but fit perfectly in the film. She inserted a few lines that took the tone from that scene in the book and worked well in the film. Two lines in particular I'm thinking of: First when Jacob is leaning smugly and shirtless against the VW, girls everywhere swooned, and the tension is cut with Edward saying, “Does he own a shirt?” and when Jacob enters the tent and says, “You're just mad because I'm hotter than you.” These lines give the snarky edge to Jacob and Edward's relationship, without superfluous dribble and, frankly, the extensive exposition from the novel. Yes, they are different from the books, but the tone is spot on, and that's good adaptation- making it work with the pre-existing material and the feeling that exists in that moment from the book, and matching it visually with concise, even if different, words. When those lines were said, we got the anger, jealousy, humor, and poking fun while really loathing the other person quite appropriately.

The acting- Stewart didn't stutter in a horribly awkward way and in fact seemed supremely confident with her character; Lautner didn't bury all of his lines in monotonous tones and really showed his leading man capabilities in scenes like the kiss after the tent and the bedroom scene after the fight; and Pattinson didn't just look sad and tortured; there was contentment, happiness, jealousy, fear, and anger... and Jackson Rathbone finally had a few lines to develop his character beyond someone who just looks constipated and 'in pain' most of the time.  Also, the relationships really showed through for me, particularly with Jasper and Alice. I loved the little peck she gave him after they did their battle practice in the woods.

The wardrobe/hair/eyes- I know, it's a bit trivial in the long run, but these can often be the things that people take notice of if it's poorly done, 'wrong,' or different from the books and thus can be a necessary branch of adaptation studies. If we can see the line of the contacts around the actors' eyes, it removes us from that moment of the story; we become critical and say 'oh, I can see the contacts' instead of 'ah, he's just hunted, it must be okay to be around Bella...' etc. etc. The eyes were very well done. Black when they needed to hunt, and the gold was lovely. I think it may have been CGI-ed on this one as it blends well into different shades of gold.
Jasper's hair is finally good, Rosalie finally fits the bill of stunningly beautiful, Alice is dancer-like and svelte and isn't wearing matronly outfits, And the vampire pale-ness no longer looks strikingly fake. Carlisle's hair still needs some work... but meh, not too shabby overall.

The sparkle- finally! No tinkling bells in the background when he sparkles! I hated that cheesy effect. It made the sparkle a gimmick, whereas this one it was simply a fact; something that just happens when he's in the sun. No big deal was made, and there were no stupid tinkling bells.

The flashbacks- I loathed the thought of them because the more I watch Twilight, the more I dislike the ones in the first film; I found them cheesy and contrived. These, however, were very well-handled, and I think that's because of their authenticity. In Twilight, they were sepia-toned, there was seemingly contrived wardrobe (i.e. Rosalie's ruffled collar, and cliche pageboy caps), and inappropriate mardi-gras wolf hats on the Quileutes... the Eclipse flashbacks seem more factual. The story of the third wife, Rosalie's backstory, and Jasper's- they all looked appropriate, they weren't filled with soft-focus cheesiness, and they very much set the tone of the characters and gave them some depth and believable history. It gives a lot of substance to the being. We were able to see Jasper's compassion, and his struggle with killing vampires when Maria ordered it, and Rosalie's dark past was well-handled, as well as her sensitivity and slight humor when she reminisces on killing Royce in her wedding dress as 'theatrical.' As one movie-goer remarked, “You forget how long they've been around; it was neat to see the history.”

Anna Kendrick- Jessica has a minimal part in the novel, but graduation plays a big roll. It was clever to incorporate Kendrick into graduation as an integral player. She has the talent, the recent Oscar/Golden Globe buzz from 'Up in the Air,' and can really carry a scene. It was nice to see Summit give her that kickin' graduation speech to mark the meaning of choices, decisions and the future that we know is playing so thoroughly through Bella's mind, but through the words of Kendrick.

The sex- Yes there's a big debate out there right now about abstinence and the message and all of that.. but I'm not going to go into that. From a film-critic point of view, I think it was pretty great. They spoke as teenagers speak, acted as teenagers act: with passion, intent, awkwardness, and honesty. Their chemistry was real; you could feel it and believe it in every kiss, embrace, hair touch, forehead kiss, boob-grope and chest-stroke. It was nice to see the filmmakers bravery in taking this challenge: a charged and heated topic in the fandom and with the parents of the fandom, and just showing what needed to be shown. Like any other part of the book, they took the tone and information from the page, and translated it to the screen, and I think the tension and anticipation that we all loved from the books was there in spades. I missed the 'this would be difficult on a couch' line, but that's just a smidge of nostalgia; the line wasn't necessary for the scene to work- the making out and the tension was necessary, and they got that.

I also greatly enjoyed the opening scene in the meadow. In the first film their relationship moves so fast, the ending was satisfactory, but it can seem quite rushed. By this film, they are utterly devoted to each other, and its scenes like this that illustrate the natural partnership that they have. They just look so comfortable and easy with each other. It's lovely, and I think it has the feeling of attraction, suspense, and subtle eroticism of that first meadow scene from the novel that fans were looking for in Twilight's meadow scene. They're so stinkin' cute

The 'virgin' conversation: Just awkward enough. I loved the movement through that scene too. How Charlie just stood his ground, determined to make it through this conversation and Bella is continuously moving towards the stairs, fleeing as fast as she can, but still giving her dad the information he needed to stop worrying.

Choices- I would have loved to be a fly on the wall of Rosenberg's thought process to change Bella into a wicked stronger character in this one. We all love Bella, but she really can be a bit pathetic; always in need of rescuing, protection, and always needing a man. In this, she still needs protection and still needs her men, but she is more definitely her own person. She gets angry at Edward for lying to her, goes off with Jacob against Edward's wishes because it's her decision and what she needs to do to be with her friend, and my most favorite Bella moment is the speech in the meadow at the end where she says 'yes, I love you' blah blah blah, but also 'I don't fit in here, I'm not normal, I belong in another life, your life.' Meaning with him, but also as a vampire. It so clearly makes it her decision and not dependent just on being with the man, but flourishing and becoming her own person on her own terms in a life of her choosing. 

It's best in that scene, but also in that conversation with Rosalie on the balcony. We see Bella, the strong capable human who survives and holds her own in superhuman situations, and can see how she can fit into this other world. Well done. I hope Meyer was down with it as it changed Bella's central being, but I think it changed it in a way most people imagine Bella anyway; we all want to defend and champion her, but it can be tough with her actions from the text at times. This Bella in Eclipse gives us all of the fodder we need to illustrate her as a strong leading lady (who still needs some rescuing, but so do Edward, Seth and Jacob as she sacrifices herself left right and center to save them).  

Parent relationships: They are so underplayed in every aspect of the story (they're not very active in her life), and there are some really lovely moments that are played up in this film effectively in order to show what Bella is giving up in order to be with Edward. There's the easy, touching scene with Renee, the success of which has a lot to do with Stewart's performance, and of course all of those lovely 'Charlie Moments' like where he utters 'super' and tries to have some serious conversations with her. I love Billy Burke; such a rockin' guy, and great actor. 

Also the Carlisle and Esme moments where you see their parental tendencies in their family.  Carlisle tries to appease the Volturi and keep the peace when Edward loses his temper ("if you had arrived half an hour earlier..."), and both he and Esme were the ones in shot, ready to take responsibility for Bree.

Well good on ya for making it this far.... but I'm going to stop there for today.  There's so much more going on in my head that I want to sort out; These are just my initial thoughts of the film, but there's so much more to consider in the adaptation of event films.  I'm thinking about the marketing, the cross advertising, Volvo is tied in, Burger King, and how the imagery has changed in the promotional materials; colors changed from the cold iciness of Twilight to the soft, warm browns of New Moon, and to the steely grays for Eclipse (see image from My TwiLife), the lines, the storyboarding process (Slade and Rosenberg worked together to adapt this one where she would have the script, he would get it and storyboard it, and he would give it back to her to adapt the script to fit the shots; very cool process and unusual for this saga at this point).

See, I'm waxing on again... okay. Stopping now! Would love to hear your thoughts, and I'll be mulling over a few more in the next few days... and hopefully seeing it again a few more times!


Jesilea said...

I agree with your assessments. The acting was better and finally, I left not hating Kristen Stewart. I really loved her final speech in the meadow where she explains her reasons for wanting to become a vamp. I left liking Bella a lot more in this.

The product placement wasn't as blatant as it had been in New Moon, which was nice. I thought in New Moon the Volvo, Google, Burger King and Virgin Air "commercials" took you out of the scene. Much more subtle in Eclipse.

Thanks for your thoughts! Can't wait for Breaking Dawn!!!

Christine said...

I'd love to hear more of your opinion on how the change in Bella to a more assertive and decisive character in the movie impacted the portrayal of the love triangle in Eclipse.

Several of us were left thinking that Bella's love for Jacob was less believable (or just paid lip-service, so to speak) due to milder reactions by Movie Bella to their second kiss, she actually watching Jacob get hurt, and when she left him. Did having a stronger Bella character lessen the importance of the emotional impact of her loving two people? Did her final monologue negate it?

BTW, you have a cool research project. Genius! Many of us would love to be able to justify watching and thinking about Twilight so much as a necessary professional pursuit!

Shronie said...

Your insight regarding the transition from book to screen is fascinating and I enjoy reading your comments. I'm wondering what you think about the major change Melissa Rosenberg made by having Bella actually cut her arm and bleed as opposed to just thinking about it and being frozen in the book? I think it was bold and visually more believable for the movie.

Dano Brett Sam said...

You do have much more to talk about like the lack of Bella's vision of her future life with Jacob which really hit home the fact that she could have had a happy life choosing Jacob. Bella's choice isn't between wrong and right, but between two rights. Does the movie down play this aspect to keep the audience from being confused or is that just too much to add into an already heavy and long movie.
How much of a role does the director play in regards to keeping to the screenplay. Is it just the learning curve these actors/actresses are going through that they finally feel comfortable with their characters or is it the director pulling the real essence out of them. I often wonder how that works in movies. Is the portrayal of the character entirely up to the actor or does it come from the direction of the director? We know that Catherine let them adlib a few lines and thus we got mumbling, but you don't get that in Eclipse. These kids were finally forced to say their lines in clear coherent understandable sentences.
Is it fair to say David spade created a better movie when really he just had to correct everything that was bad in the first two? Chris Weitz did a fantastic job improving New Moon not to mention dealing with a less than exciting storyline.
I'm also curious to know if each director has to take into account certain foreshadowing events that must occur in a future film that he/she won't be involved in making. And vice versa, having to work from foreshadowing that was created in a previous film. Lots to discuss. Lots to discuss.

Anonymous said...

Have to say I agree 100 percent with your opinion of the film. I am not your a-typical fan. For one, I'm a 43yr old dad. Have not read a line of the books, yet have been pulled into these stories through my wife and daughter.

Strictly from a cinematic respect with no knowledge of the written works, I was pulled into the universe by Twilight, put off a bit by New Moon, but brought back to the excitement that Eclipse builds.

New Moon was a real letdown for me, the music, the themes, everything, it just didn't click with me. Eclipse however is a marked improvement technically; story, acting, relationships.

All of the things you brought up about Stewart I have observed too; her constant eye fluttering when conveying deep emotion. Speaking in broken sentences to convey dismay, etc. All are gone now and we FINALLY see her being confident as Bella. Pattinson, as you said, brought more to the table this time. Their relationship is what makes this film work and it works well. Lautner I feel was not guided correctly in New Moon. I just didn't feel any spark or tension between he and Stewart. In Eclipse, I finally felt the bond between Bella and Jacob, due in large part to much improved performances from Stewart and Lautner.

All in all, a film that I will see again soon, unlike New Moon which got one viewing in the theater and one on DVD. This one, like Twilight, will get multiple viewings from me.

Grama Donna said...

I agree with all your comments, and especially the much improved acting of Stewart and Pattinson.

However I do think there are a couple of things that Bella would not do: 1) Ride off on a motorcycle with Jacob, leaving Edward standing there. 2)Kiss Jacob with Edward just around the corner, so to speak. Wouldn't happen.

But I did like the other "liberties" taken to make Bella stronger and less pathetic. I have to say I was looking for Frost's Fire and Ice poem and was so happy to see it right in the beginning.

Finally, my view in the book which was portrayed in the movie was that she always loved Edward and always chose Edward. But what her realization of her feelings for Jacob gave her was knowing exactly what she was sacrificing with her choice.

I also would have liked to see Rosalie mention a bit more that she wanted kids and would never have them, but I guess it was implied with the grandkids remark. This is the setup for the progression of her relationship with Rosalie in Breaking Dawn.

Great research you are doing there.
Oh, and by the way, I am a grandma, turned my granddaughter onto the books and took her to see the first movie. She is a couple thousand miles away now but did send her a I Heart Edward shirt to wear when she went to see Eclipse. I also turned my 11 year old grandson into a Twi-Boy, watching the first two DVDs together.

True everlasting love is a dream for everyone. I have not found it and very few ever will but I can still dream.

Ana from Brazil said...

Well, I thought the movie was rushed, every time I was getting in the mood of a particular scene it changed to something completely diferent, I never felt like I was submerged in that world.

pam said...

I liked your comments and look forward to more. It is nice to see a reasonable discussion. One point I do sort of disagree on with you...I've never seen Bella as weak and pathetic. Awkward clutz yes and weaker physically than the men around her yes. But she has strength inside her to follow what she thinks is right and to acknowledge her mistakes and try to correct them. A weak pathetic person would not have given up living in the sun and live with her father in cloudy wet place so her mother could be happy traveling with new husband. A weak person would not have gone to meet a dangerous vampire to save her mother. Other examples between those two and on into the other books. The drawing blood during the Edward & Victoria fight put that strength on the screen. Her ending monolog strengthens the reason to become a vampire without taking anything away from Edward as the center of her universe. It also explains why she was drawn to the Cullens and able to see through their human facade. By end of movie Bella comes to realize the depth of her feelings for Jacob and that she does have the inner strength to make her choice and live with the consequences.

Anonymous said...

I completely agree with your assessment of the film except for Bella's speach at the end.

If you recall from the book one of Edward's primary concerns is that Bella is more interested in becoming a Vampire than being with him. She alleviates his fears by assuring him that she wouldn't want to live 1 second without him and she only wants to be a vamp so they can be together forever.

Her speech in Eclipse completely contradicts this. She is basically saying that I want to be a Vamp because thats where I fit in and if we're together that's icing on the cake. While I get the whole 'not letting your life be drivin by a man' angle the movie projects, and actually enjoyed the scene, it permanently changes the nature of her character.

I like the stronger Bella in Eclipse overall but giving her that much independence from Edward undermines the entire "two halves of a whole" message that is the core of the story.

Anonymous said...

where was the boob-grope in the movie???

Anonymous said...

I have to disagree with you about the conversation in the meadow at the end. I did not like the change at all. I also think that played into my feelings that Eclipse does not capture the emotional turmoil Bella feels regarding Jacob. It was much more believable in New Moon and then it just kind of falls short in Eclipse when it should matter most. I thought a lot of the important scenes were too short. Like the scene in Jacob's room after he is hurt and Bella says goodbye. In the book you feel the emotional pull as she drags herself off the bed. That scene was way too short in the movie. And the movie was missing my favorite scene from the book--Edward finds Bella in her truck sobbing after she says goodbye to Jacob and she cries all night. She tries to throw off the bracelet and Edward tells her it is part of who she is and then in the morning after she's cried herself to sleep he questions if she's made the right choice because she was in so much pain. THAT is the moment Bella owns her choice not the bizarre dialogue in the meadow that was in the movie. It just felt so out of place. I suspect perhaps they were trying to make the relationship seem less obsessive because it has come under some scrutiny as a wrong message to teenage girls. But it's fiction people. And hopefully parents are discussing these aspects with their kids. I also didn't like the way they played the scene after Bella punches Jacob. The guys were too angry with Bella mediating. In the book it is so funny and Bella is the angry one. This is a place where they could have shown some of Bella's strength in the movie instead of using here as a go between instead. They really changed Bella's character and I hope by watching it again I will be able to appreciate it for what it has instead of what it is missing.

Anonymous said...

I completely agree - you've said everything about the movie that I don't know how to say eloquently without a film student/critic's background :) Fantastic review.

Anonymous said...

The acting and the action was great. Taylor and Rob did a fantastic job with the characters. I have to say I was really disappointed that Bella didn't shed any tears when she left Jacob. I didn't want to see her bawling like in the book, but come on... A few tears would have really made the moment much more meaningful.

Nancy said...

I loved the movie until the final meadow scene. There was such an issue made in the book of Eclipse that Bella thought Edward did not want to change her because he would miss her warmth, blush, and wonderful smell. And he, in his insecurity, thought that perhaps she wanted to become a vamprie more for the immortality than just to be with him. They both laughed in the book about thier misguided insecurities. And that meadow speech that Bella made in the movie was totally contrary to that. It was like they totally rewrote the message. Maybe that is what some wish Bella had thought because somehow they think that makes her seem like a stronger person, but it was totally different than what the book portrayed, and I thought the writers and directors were trying so hard to stay true to the books. That scene ruined the movie for me, because the draw of the Eclipse to me is the absolute, total love she has for Edward, and the strength she shows in making the choices to be with him despite all in life that she will be giving up.

Anonymous said...

i like this movie super romantic,,i would like to congratulate all of the person involve in this movie.

Caballero,cristina tolomia said...

i like this movie super romantic,,i would like to congratulate all of the person involve in this movie.