Perhaps it's Bella (Kristen Stewart) reading poetry in a field of flowers to Edward (Robert Pattinson). That's how the movie begins, and if you can make it through that part without pulling your collar over your ears and skulking out of the theater, you might be all right, although the make-out scenes, inciting giggles throughout the predominantly young, female audience, can make you sink far into your seat.
That said, “Eclipse,” the third in the series of four (not counting a spinoff novella) proposed adaptations is overall the least cringe-inducing for those outside the target audience, even if it is the most romantic. In this episode a rogue faction of vampires is creating an army to attack Edward's clan and kill Bella in revenge for the vampire who Edward killed protecting her. Help is needed from Jacob (Taylor Lautner) and his pack of Native American werewolves, the downside being Jacob's love for Bella, inspiring a lot of jealousy and bad acting.
Although you still get the feeling teens are being duped by a hodgepodge mythology of action clichAcs, this outing is markedly better in direction and editing than the first two. “Eclipse” is overlong and a little redundant, but the pacing is better and the concentration is on the melodrama and the sweet-talking rather than the mystery or the creatures, which have never been that mysterious or interesting.
It's difficult to say who's responsible, however. All three films have had a different director, all with questionable rAcsumAcs, while the same writer, Melissa Rosenberg, has adapted novelist Stephanie Meyer's source material throughout. Those last two have a remarkable ability to probe the 'tween psyche without embarrassment. Some samples of the movie's most important dialogue: “I was trying to protect you!”; “By lying to me?”; “Why haven't you called me back?”; “I do trust you, it's him I don't trust!”; “Let's face it, I am hotter than you.”; “I'm totally done!”
Alas, for childless critics, not quite. (PG-13) 124 min. **