They get worse. No, seriously. Eclipse is the latest in a line of mind-numbingly stupid pieces of bottom-of-the-barrel entertainment designed specifically to market around a demographic that producers know would flock towards it. These are the worst types of fiction, completely misguided with no sense of logic or care for its own material, all for the sake of a three-way romance that becomes as contrived as ever in this third entry.
We learn of the wolf pack’s, or werewolves despite they’re just wolves, backstory in hackneyed fashion. A tribal leader, fighting against an invading vampire clan, gives himself up to save his wife. “Courageously” as we’re told, the wife stabs herself in the stomach to let her husband gain the upper hand. One asks if the act was courageous, or just baffling even on the stupid scale. If the idea was to send the vampire into a feeding frenzy with the smell of blood, why not poke a finger?
Never fear though, as Eclipse maintains its complete and utter disregard for common sense in the present day too. Bella (Kristen Stewart) is sleeping in a tent with sparkly vampire Edward (Robert Pattinson) who still only chooses to sparkle when it’s convenient for the script. She is cold though, the blanket and thick coat not enough to save her from the storm brewing outside. Since Edward is dead, he can’t warm her, but enter a shirtless Jacob (Taylor Lautner) who of course has a higher body temperature to slip in and warm her up. It creates animosity where the script would have none otherwise.
Let’s disregard the fact that the next morning, atop the same snowy mountain, Bella has no problem going out of the tent to confront Jacob in those same freezing temperatures, this time minus the coat, hat, and blanket. Surely anyone who cares for her would make a mention, but the idea of rebellion runs deep through this series, because that’s just what teenagers love to see. Oh, they love PSAs too, Bella’s father producing a timely speech on sex before marriage, just in case anyone in the crowd becomes over-infatuated with the events of this story. Thankfully, teens have figured out they can just bite each other instead.
Staggering as it may be, that whole tent warming scene, needless as ever, isn’t even the most contrived sequence of the movie. Bella’s dad has the brilliant advice at the beginning of the film to separate Bella from Edward, telling her to go see Jacob. Why? Because the plot said so. Later, we have the unbelievable test to see if Jacob’s natural wolf scent (!) will block the vampires from smelling Bella, even though the answer is already known. This scene leads to, yet again, a shirtless Jacob gleefully carrying Bella through the forest where he can make his move and add tension to the plot, as if the newborn vampires recklessly ransacking Seattle didn’t do that already.
In fact, the whole point of this movie are those newborn vampires, who are completely self-contained to this entry and serve no purpose in the wider arc of this narrative. The script, again adapted for the screen by Melissa Rosenberg, seems to forget these aspects, focused on this pointlessly convoluted relationship that follows the same arcs and curves it had in the prior two movies. This is the same material, recycled for a second time, as needlessly complex as one could possibly imagine all for the sake of extending this series and profit margins. [xrr rating=1/5 label=Movie]
Summit’s AVC encode for Eclipse mostly mirrors the previous two entries on Blu-ray. The rather distinct grain structure is maintained cleanly, typically with limited noise. There are scenes of concern, the battle with the newborn vampires especially noisy. Any thoughts of intent are seemingly tossed out when the variations on that noise level fluctuate from shot to shot. There are non-battle scenes that reveal a heightened level of noise, some based on special effects, others for no readily apparent reason such as 1:45:39 where the backdrop is visibly awash with digital blocks.
The level of inconsistency is evident for most of the film, struggling to maintain a stable level of texture throughout. Edward can appear weirdly smoothed over in one shot, to loaded with refined high-fidelity detail the next. It’s jumpy, although those weaker shots tend to be the exception and not the rule. Many of the close-ups are striking, loaded with extensive texture, fully resolved hair, and specific stitches on the clothing. The blatantly obvious CG wolves carry thick coats of fur, suffering from a bare minimum level of aliasing at a distance, better handled when in close.
Color saturation is all over the place too, brilliant primaries evident during Bella’s brief trip to see her mother around 12:30 in, settling into the downtrodden cold blues the series has carried with it since the first film. Flesh tones follow the work of the digital intermediate, at times casting Edward with a warm, vibrant hue that makes no sense. Forests, the cinematography of the Canadian locales one of the few positives of this franchise, are loaded with with deep greens.
Black levels remain intact for almost the entire film, a few scenes slipping up into lighter shades of blue. The wolves at 29:04 lighten up, demolishing the depth the transfer usually carries with it. Contrast remains bright, blooming where someone deemed it necessary to enhance the mood, including the opening frames in the flower field. [xrr rating=4/5 label=Video]
The movie’s audio is mundane for most of the running time, reflecting the drab, bland nature of the material. This DTS-HD mix has little to process beyond dialogue, but the sound design is such that it elevates the ambiance to offer something for the surrounds to do. From the opening scenes, birds are heard chirping throughout the soundfield, creating an effective wrap-around effect. At night, insects chirp freely in various channels, brought out enough to be noticed without being overdone to become unnatural.
The few fight scenes, or chases including the early forest run, capture a sense of motion fluidly. Tree branches and snapped and torn as everyone runs at super-human speed, rushing air completing the illusion. A training session at 58-minutes is aggressive, vampires sliding around kicking dirt up into the proper speaker.
Bass is limited, never coming alive like it probably should. The final battle carries a few thuds of note as punches and clotheslines are landed. Vampires hit the ground catching in the low-end, yet the presence isn’t as strong as a brief vision at 1:43:25, where footsteps take on more weight than a human-sized wolf pouncing on somebody. [xrr rating=4/5 label=Audio]
There are two commentaries here, the first with stars Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson. Track two has book author Stephenie Meyer and producer Wyck Godfrey discussing the film transition. A making-of, split into six different sections, runs almost 90-minutes. This can be viewed on its own or via picture-in-picture, either way making this an insightful look into the film process, even if the whole thing carries that blatant promotional feel.
Eight deleted scenes offer an optional commentary from director David Slade, these followed up by a stack of music videos and photo gallery. There’s also a feature where you can jump to scenes with specific attributes, like Edward or Jacob. [xrr rating=4/5 label=Extras]