Brace yourself for romance, action and serious vampire-kicking, because Eclipse has finally arrived. Throbbing with unrequited lust, tense with looming danger and -- best of all -- peppered with self-aware in-jokes, The Twilight Saga’s third installment is worth the wait.
Eclipse picks up where New Moon left off. Small-town teen Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) and brooding blood-sucker Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) are on again and more in love than ever. Bella’s still begging to be turned vamp, Edward’s still obsessed with her safety and Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner) is still pining for Bella, pushing his luck as far as he can (there’s a smooch, a punch, and some apologies). Sex also becomes an overt topic for the first time -- although it’s quickly dismissed by an “old-school” Edward.
As the lusty love triangle burns on, there’s another, bigger threat to our heroes than hyperactive hormones. The troubles start with an army of newborn vampires deployed to raise holy hell and kill Bella. Jacob’s plan to win her over, meanwhile, goes into over-drive, making for some tough moments for team Edward -- as well as some winks to the audience in which the actors finally get to poke fun at their fame. Lautner, whose chiseled bod has become a star in its own right, generously appears half-naked throughout the movie. At one point Edward nods to the shamelessness, grunting, “Doesn't he own a shirt?”
Such knowing humor is some of what make Eclipse so fantastic. Bella, for one, has finally stopped sulking, while Edward actually smiles more than once. Jacob is by far the most tortured this time around, but his hulking muscles make up for everything. Plus, both the Cullen family and Jacob’s Quileute clan get more screen-time than before, as backstories are fleshed out in melodramatic flashbacks. Just as Twilight’s characters are growing up and finding their identities, so are the movies. Eclipse is the best installment yet -- and, with its big battles and easy laughs, by far the most fun.