GENRE: Bizarre love triangle
THE PITCH: Vampire heartthrob Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) pops the question to mopey teen Bella Swann (Kristen Stewart), who demands he vampirize her instead. Interrupting this two-hour conversation include Bella's stalkerish, wolf-boy friend Jacob (Taylor Lautner) and a small army of "newborn" vampires closing on the Cullen's hometown.
MONEY SHOTS: The Cullen's Matrix-style training session ahead of the newborn attack. The flashbacks of Cullen vampire history, featuring kitschy Civil War uniforms and Native American costumes. The big battle of werewolves and Cullens vs. newborns, during which Jasper the friendly vamp (Jackson Rathbone) snaps off a pair of arms and tosses them over his shoulder. The real money, of course, comes from Lautner's chest. Does he get six paychecks, one for each ab?
BEST LINE: "Let's face it — I'm hotter than you," Jacob tells Edward before sharing a sleeping bag with Bella to keep her from freezing on a mountaintop. It's one of several times that Eclipse shows a welcome sense of humor about itself.
TEAM EDWARD OR TEAM JACOB? Edward. Pattinson's sensitive courtship scenes and his angry speech before a big fight secures him the best performance of all three leads. Lautner's petulant pushiness feels like the stuff that restraining orders are made of.
BODY COUNT: Vampires feed on numerous young people in Seattle, but they rise again as blood-crazed "newborn" vampires, so does that count? At least a dozen bad vamps die in the finale, with shattered heads and snapped-off limbs. But because they're vampires, the body parts seem to be made something hard and solid, like concrete or ice. I didn't really get it.
SQUEAL COUNT: At the screening, teenage girls cooed and/or clapped at Lautner's first appearance; Lautner's first appearance without his shirt; the first appearance of Bella's huge engagement ring; and the climactic decapitation of a villain.
FASHION STATEMENTS: Jacob and his wolf pack pals stick with that no shirt/big shorts look, I guess like Bruce Banner with tats. Bella spends some scenes under a gray hoodie that makes her even more dreary. The Volturi (Eurotrash boss vampires, led by Dakota Fanning) wear old-fashioned cloaks, boots and waistcoats, like they're heading to a Steampunk convention. Vampire Rosalie (Nikki Reed) wears the white wedding dress of revenge in a historical flashback.
CASTING FOOTNOTES: Bryce Dallas Howard takes over the role of evil ginger vamp Victoria from the previous films' Rachelle Lefevre. Anna Kendrick picked up an Oscar nomination for Up in the Air but remains stuck in the franchise as Bella's least boring human friend.
DASH OF PRETENSION: After a sinister prologue, Bella opens the movie by reciting Robert Frost's "Fire and Ice" in a field of flowers.
SOUNDTRACK HITS: The emo-heavy pop songs seem less obtrusively annoying this time, particularly "Let's Get Lost" by Beck and Bat for Lashes. Metric performs "Eclipse (All Yours)." The award for dumbest title goes to Bombay Bicycle Club's "How Can You Swallow So Much Sleep."
BETTER THAN THE OTHER FILMS? Yes. Twilight and New Moon are insufferably drab and boring, bad movies. Eclipse is still kind of bad, but has enough narrative momentum and flashes of comedic camp to give it some entertainment value.
THE BOTTOM LINE: The Twilight Saga flips the script of those Judd Apatow-type comedies in which schlubby guys woo bombshells girls. Pretty but blank, Stewart isn't allowed to be as sexy as the male leads, and it's an enduring mystery why Bella Swan should be the Helen of Troy of the vampire/werewolf world. Director David Slade's sense of humor and snappy pace doesn't make up for the film's secondhand plotting and overall ridiculousness, but Eclipse should thrill the Twi-Hards and tickle the Twi-Haters.
I can see Rushdie's stuff adapting well. Lots of plot to play with.