Of course, when the bar has been set so low on the previous films, clearing it isn't much to cheer about.
At first glance, the film appeared like it would get a much needed jolt from director David Slade, a director who knows how to go dark with films like Hard Candy and 30 Days of Night under his belt, and the first five minutes of the movie open with a promising sense of creepy and excitement.
And then it fizzles away, dragged down by the continuing triangle between Bella (Kristen Stewart), vampire Edward (Robert Pattinson) and werewolf Jacob (Taylor Lautner). Instead of acting like the adult she claims to be, Bella drags her feet the whole way. So the film slogs through two hours of "who will Bella choose," occasionally interrupted by a semblance of plot.
In Eclipse, as Bella struggles to choose between the two supernatural men in her life, Victoria (Bryce Dallas Howard), a vampire with a wicked revenge drive, has a created an army of vampires lead by Riley (Xavier Samuel) to take out the Cullen vampires and Bella. This causes the Cullens to forge a truce with the wolf pack, as they prepare for a battle that would have been exciting if they had actually shown more than a few minutes of it.
The biggest problem with the Twilight films has always been that the love triangle drowns out everything else. If it was handled with a little more subtlety by the writing or finesse by the actors, this wouldn't be such an issue. As it stands, Stewart and Lautner have the most chemistry going for them, which is a problem when the driving relationship is supposed to be between Stewart and Pattinson.
In this film, it seems like the problem with Edward was tackled a little, with an attempt to show more of his character. So, he goes from being a slightly dour vampire to a oddly dull human. Not much of an improvement.
The best acting in the film goes to three side characters: Dakota Fanning as Jane, a vampire enforcer who bad-asses her way through her five minutes of screen time, Samuel who actually comes off as blood thirsty and creepy, and Billy Burke as Charlie Swan, Bella's dry, sarcastic father.
The action sequences (or what is shown of them) are an improvement over their predecessors, and there is one truly fun scene involving Bella, Edward and Jacob stuck in a tent together. It has some genuine humor, and gives the two actors a chance to actually talk as men do.
Of course, none of this really matters, because the hardcore fans are going to go to Eclipse regardless. For those looking for a supernatural action movie, or a genuine love story, look elsewhere. And if Eclipse comes across as a genuine love story, heed the same advice that should be given to Stewart's Bella - grow up.