From Modern Mythcraft to Magical Surrealism

Ten Things You Should Know about Eclipse

Summit couldn’t wait even a year to bring you the next installment of their personal mint; Eclipse is already out, and before you decide to give in and buy a ticket because you could use two hours of air conditioning, there are some things you should know.

1. The leads have checked out of the Forks Motel.
In the first movie, for all its (many) flaws, its two leads seemed to be trying to bring the characters to the screen. Those days are over. At best, it’s the sort of performance that feels like some wonky editing and excessive reshoots. At worst, it’s physically uncomfortable to watch Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson going through the motions on roles they both clearly despise. Even more awkward: Taylor Lautner didn’t get the memo about not trying any more, so his scenes consist of him earnesting as hard as he can and his scene partner making a mildly disgusted face and filing his/her nails.

2. Team Restraining Order.
In Twilight, Bella had to put up with Edward creeping into her room while she slept. In New Moon, she had to put up with Jacob popping up like a muscled gopher to demand she have feelings for him. As with all abusive relationships, the situation has escalated. Edward takes parts out of her car so she can’t go see Jacob, lies to her ‘for her protection’, and repeatedly tells her she doesn’t know what she wants. Jacob insists she has feelings for him that she just can’t admit, forcibly kisses her to prove it, and tells her in quick succession that he’d rather she was dead than a Cullen, and that he’ll fight for her until her heart stops beating. Oh, how can she ever choose? Decisions, decisions!

3. Almost everyone in this movie is pointless.
This includes the human teens (who provided such desperately-needed entertainment in the previous two installments), all human adults, most of the Cullens, Victoria’s newborn vampire army, Victoria, the Volturi B-squad, and the werewolves. Most of them appear in only two scenes: one to establish character, two to execute their plot purpose and disappear. Two Cullens get more to do than previously: Rosalie, who delivers a high-school-theatre monologue about her rape-murder, and Jasper, who has a flashback to his days as a Confederate soldier and spends the rest of the movie at full drawl. They do not bode well for anyone else getting screen time.

4. Howard Shore did the music.
You’ll know because whenever Bella and Edward make out, it sounds like every pervert in the Shire is creeping up on them.

5. Werewolves believe in two things: Quileute legends, and cooties.
You know what’s the worst? When a girl gets into your shape-shifter club and walks around the clubhouse having thoughts and opinions and feelings and shit, and is the only werewolf in the entire movie who makes a battle mistake – that is the worst. Also, when vampires attack you in Pilgrim flashbacks, that is also the worst. But that is actually the second-worst, because the real worst is girls.

6. Werewolves do not believe in wearing shirts.
We need not – heed not – in the snow.
We don’t want shirts – away they go!
When we wolf out, you’ll see our chests –
Except the girl, ’cause she has breasts.

7. Billy Burke remains too good for all this.
There’s a scene in which Charlie tries valiantly to have a conversation with his daughter about sexual responsibility. Things spiral quickly downward, until finally his daughter cuts him off at the pass with, “I’m a virgin, okay?” and he tries dadfully not to sink into a hole in the floor. Clearly, Billy Burke paid someone to write him a decent scene, and it was money well spent. It’s one of the only scenes in the film that feels natural. It’s not a coincidence that this is one of the only scenes in which Bella is bearable.

8. The special effects people can only do one thing at a time.
Having vaguely improved on New Moon‘s werewolf CGI (now the wolves’ faces move!), the effects people all high-fived each other and wandered off to play air hockey. Later, they would look up from the table as if trying to remember something important that they might have forgotten. Meanwhile, in Eclipse, an intern was left to sign the executive decision that newborn vampires should be made of extremely flammable fiberglass.

9. Oh, it’s THAT kind of Love Triangle.
There are a lot of scenes in which Edward and Jacob get within kissing distance of each other and talk intensely about who should and should not be touching who. During a mountain snowstorm, as Jacob cradles Bella to keep her from freezing to death (actual scene), Edward and Jacob talk over her head about which one of them is going to get her. When your heroine is such a cipher that their best ensemble scene is her sleeping and then ten minutes of a sexually-repressed vampire reading the lascivious thoughts of a shirtless werewolf while they’re crowded together in a tent, there might be a rewrite in order. (Or a threesome. Whichever.)

10. The meadow problem.
When this movie ends, the first thing you will say is, “I hate meadows so much right now I want to go start a forest fire.” I understand this instinct, given how many terrible scenes play out endlessly in these grassy idylls, but please fight through it. It’s not the meadows’ fault that insufferable teenagers are always traipsing through them. Just give it time; there’s only two more movies, and then you can enjoy meadows again forever.

Genevieve Valentine’s fiction has appeared in Clarkesworld, Strange Horizons, Fantasy, Federations, and more. She is a columnist at Tor.com and Fantasy Magazine. Her first novel, Mechanique: A Tale of the Circus Tresaulti, is forthcoming in 2011. Her appetite for bad movies is insatiable, a tragedy she tracks on her blog.