The Twilight Saga: Eclipse opens with a fresh-faced college kid attacked in a dark Seattle alley by an unseen menace, save for a flash of red hair, and left bitten and screaming on a dock in the pounding rain. Immediately, you know you’re in a more dangerous film than Twilight or New Moon. Ultimately, Eclipse is still more love story than horror film: a supernatural Wuthering Heights of the Olympic Peninsula. Altogether, it’s an intoxicating blend of vampires, werewolves and romance. The Blu-ray Special Features explore a quality film production, in more depth than has been marketed. The more time I spend with the Blu-ray, the more I like it. Find out why after the jump:
Eclipse the movie, condenses into 124 minutes Stephenie Meyer’s novel (629 pages) and parts of the Eclipse novella, The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner (178 pages). The screen adaptation changes timeline, settings and dialogue which work better cinematically. As a bonus, Screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg (Dexter) coins superb zingers. Even my husband, who named me the “Twilidiot,” frequently quotes Jacob’s line: “I am hotter than you.” The Twilight and New Moon films were a kind of aesthetic Cliff Notes of the books and confusing for those who had not read them. Fortunately, Eclipse stands well on its own.
There are mythology and character hiccups which usually occurred when self-proclaimed “logic nazi” Meyer wasn’t on set. Thank goodness for reshoots. One rescue was the essential “Tent Scene” in which the love triangle of cool vampire Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson), hot werewolf Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner) and hypothermic human Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) spend a stormy night together. It’s an utterly absurd predicament – a chaste threesome – and the sort of thing that makes Twilight be Twilight.
In another successful deviation from the book, Director David Slade (Thirty Days of Night) keeps the action rolling throughout, introducing exciting chases and clashes that are outside Bella’s point-of-view in the novel. Eclipse drags at times in the first act but then clicks along at a vampiric, albeit sometimes choppy pace. In impressive stunt and special effects sequences, the vampires are wicked fast and strong. The CGI wolves are leaner, meaner and furrier. PG-13 bloodless bloodsucking and crystalline beheading abound.
Visually, Eclipse is light and naturalistic, a contrast to the cool and ethereal Twilight and the romantic lushness of New Moon. The natural settings are gorgeous with a beautiful use of light by Cinematographer Javier Aguirresarobe. The Cullen House of the first film is back in an impressive act of set design that is one reason to watch the Blu-ray Special Features.
David Slade favors a lot of close-ups but often this works against him, especially when you feel like you’re staring up Edward’s nose from the second row of an IMAX theater. The movie takes on a comprehensive point-of-view, often relegating Bella to the sidelines. There are cutaways to Bella’s reactions ad nauseum, but unfortunately, Stewart isn’t doing much in these shots. Pity. When I first saw Twilight, I felt a bit breathless because I was completely absorbed by Stewart’s performance and ability to draw us into Bella’s point of view. On the way home from the theater in November 2008, I remember saying: “Robert who? Wasn’t he the guy who played Cedric Diggory? I didn’t even recognize him.”
Two years later, a bit of Robsession has set in. In Eclipse, Pattinson finally relaxes into his character, creating an Edward who is both sweeter and scarier. Add in some improvements in hair, makeup and wardrobe and movie Edward and book Edward are finally matching up. Pattinson pulls off an impossible character and an equally impossible marriage proposal as real and not maudlin. Even though Bella and Edward are more comfortable with each other, Rob and Kristen continue to have that inexplicable magnetic pull. With that kind of chemistry, I want to see plenty of kissing (sorry, Rob!).
The best chemistry award, though, might go to Pattinson and Bryce Dallas Howard as Victoria. My favorite scene is the Edward/Victoria showdown on the mountaintop. With a controlled, manipulative rage Edward goads Victoria into staying for the fight, resulting in one of the movie’s many lovely screams. After a toppled tree and a few head butts, Edward literally bites off Victoria’s head (a detail I was glad was retained from the book).
One of Eclipse’s strengths is the considerable depth of talent in the enormous supporting cast. Even unnamed characters catch your eye in the brief time they’re on screen, such as the newborn vampire boy (Cainan Wiebe) in Jasper’s history, and you’re sad to see them killed off.
The real breakout performance of the film, though, belongs to Taylor Lautner. Lautner’s Jacob is an utterly believable teenage boy (who just happens to be a werewolf), who is simultaneously sarcastic and sweet, both rash and noble. The studio execs who approved those monster salaries for Abduction and Stretch Armstrong based on only a modicum of screen time can relax: Lautner’s the real deal. His last scene in the film is devastating, as he’s left physically and emotionally broken by the fight for Bella’s safety and her soul. It’s in that scene that I lament the absence of my favorite line from the novel, without which, the title doesn’t make much sense:
“I used to think of you that way, you know. Like the sun. My personal sun. You balanced out the clouds nicely for me.”
He sighed. “The clouds I can handle. But I can’t fight with an eclipse.”
The overall style of Eclipse can be summed up in how the last three scenes in the film transition dramatically with just a swath of fade-to-black in between. After the execution of a petite vampire (the adorable Jodelle Ferland as Bree Tanner) by the hulking Volturi guard Felix (the immediately frightening Daniel Cudmore) and some really good screaming, the jump to Jacob’s house, with bone breaking screaming followed by heartbreaking agony, a little birdsong brings us back to the meadow with Edward and Bella where we started our love story. Somehow these juxtapositions make sense in the world of Twilight and are why so many of us can’t help getting lost in that fully-formed fantasy universe.
In the final meadow scene, screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg gives Bella a dramatic speech summarizing the journey we’ve been on with her. She’s finally considered the implications of her choice to become a beautiful, blood-thirsty immortal to spend an eternity with her sparkly vampire. To our relief, and Edward’s, it’s not just about him … just mostly. Eclipse ends with a different sense of danger than where it began, with a humorous repartee straight from the book:
Bella: “We have to tell Charlie.”
Edward: “It’s highly dangerous.”
Bella: “It’s a good thing you’re bulletproof.”
The soon-to-be iconoclastic engagement ring reappears with superb musical underscoring as Howard Shore’s score builds and morph into Metric’s “I’m All Yours” as the credits roll. To quote the Volturi’s leader, Aro: “I love happy endings. They are so rare.” Well, not rare in Hollywood movies, perhaps, but this one seems genuine. As a “Twilight Super Fan” and movie buff, I’m happy, too, at the end of what I think is a fun, romantic and engaging film.
The Special Edition is a single-disc Blu-ray/DVD combo. Including the DVD is an improvement over previous releases, but I hate flipper discs. No matter how careful I am, they somehow get covered in fingerprints and scratches. It should be industry standard by now to include a digital copy (I’m an iPad addict). Inception will release with a 3-Disc Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy for exactly the same price on Amazon as Eclipse.
The initial Eclipse release skips the marketing games that surrounded New Moon, which had different special features exclusive to Target and Wal-Mart. The Target Eclipse Collector’s Edition just adds deluxe packaging and six collectible photo cards.
Hopefully, Summit won’t release additional editions until all five movies are in the bag. Of course, I would love even more features but that’s what BD-Live is supposed to be for. A features-only disc, like The Matrix Revisited, would also be acceptable. But making the consumer buy the entire movie again to get the new special features is a cheap trick.
The picture quality and surround sound on the Blu-ray are excellent, with one notable exception. The chase scene with Victoria is grainy and dark, with a loss of color and detail that were in the original print.
The disc has the resume feature which allows you to pick up where you were watching even after changing discs or turning off your Blu-ray player. This is in contrast to most discs which annoyingly load all the way from the very start.
Grab a cheeseburger, an Arnold Palmer or a Rainier Beer and settle in for an extensive line-up of high-quality special features. I’m puzzled by the TV spots that say there are 90 minutes of features because there are actually days’ worth of material here for both Twilight fans and general DVD junkies. In fact, it has taken me so long to get through them all that in some sort of Tron-like accident, I think I may be writing this from inside the Eclipse Blu-ray. Please hit eject on the Vizio and let me out.
I rarely listen to commentaries more than once but the two Eclipse commentaries are definitely worth several passes. I have no idea why, but cheeseburgers keep being featured in Twilight commentaries:
Twilight: Rob had a beer gut when he was first cast as Edward and worked out some four hours a day to get ready for the shoot. Trouble was, he started losing too much weight and Director Catherine Hardwicke was on his case to eat more. When Edward says onscreen, “What do we eat?” Rob exclaims, “Cheeseburgers!”
New Moon: Director Chris Weitz claims the reason the kids aren’t with him in the commentary is that Kristen is mad at him for eating her cheeseburger while she was away from her plate at a party.
Eclipse: Kristen’s in Montreal and jealous that Rob’s in L.A. and just ate an In-n-Out cheeseburger and has another one with him in the room. There’s also a discussion about begging for Burger King while on set.
Commentary with Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson: Because they’re not in the same room, it takes a while for these two to figure out what do with the format. It’s awkward at first, with long pauses and Rob complaining about there being too much kissing. Eventually, exhaustion and giddiness set in. Rob swears he’s not drunk and is actually drinking an Arnold Palmer. The rest, including commentary on the leg hitch/proposal, mountain top and tent scene is utterly hilarious. We also get to hear what a 24 year-old guy, perhaps the only one on the planet who is fervently Team Edward, really thinks about Bella and Jacob. Rob and Kristen are sad Taylor’s not with them and I am, too.
Commentary with Stephenie Meyer and Wyck Godfrey: Obviously, this is the ultimate commentary for Twilight fans. Learn all about the logistical issues with the shoot, what lines Stephenie had to “throw down” for, what scene caused Stephenie to walk out of Wyck’s trailer and the real diva of the shoot: Kristen’s wig. Stephenie points out the mythology deviations and since she doesn’t like them either, I’m less irritated with them somehow. Also revealed is the slightly disturbing way those award-winning kisses are choreographed.
What no one seems to know yet are that actually get two different, although overlapping, documentaries. The documentaries also include different information than the Mark Cotta Vaz book, The Twilight Saga Eclipse: The Official Illustrated Movie Companion.
The Making of The Twilight Saga: Eclipse 6-Part Documentary
Stand Alone Version – Full Length Documentary
This in itself is an excellent film. It moves at an interesting pace with a great balance between set footage and interviews. Smartly, the documentary interviews are weighted towards the key players from whom we didn’t get a commentary. I haven’t found a complete listing anywhere yet, so here it is for you, including subheadings:
- Part I: Introducing David Slade
- Visual Alchemy
- Part 2: Pre-Production: Setting the Stage
- The Cast Prepares for Eclipse
- The Cullen House
- The Mountaintop
- The Ring
- The Quilt
- Part 3: The Heart of Eclipse
- Bella’s Choice: Edward or Jacob
- Jasper’s Dark Past
- Rosalie’s Tale of Love and Loss
- Part 4: The Dark Side of Eclipse
- Part 5: Lights, Camera, Action
- Including “TAYLOR TIME”
- Part 6: Post-Production: Leaps in Technology
- The Ravine Chase
- The Wolf Pack Grows
- The Ultimate Vampire Battle
Picture-in-Picture (PIP) Documentary
PIP is a lame name for this super cool feature. Christopher Nolan is calling this feature “Extraction Mode” on the Inception Blu-ray. The PIP pops up frequently as you watch the movie and describes what you’re watching. The audio flips from the main feature to the documentary when it’s on screen. This is NOT just splices from the full-length documentary. Some of that information is repeated but it is also a whole new slew of behind-the-scenes rehearsal footage, shots as seen in the monitors, and story and character commentary.
DELETED AND EXTENDED SCENES
Another secret bonus is that these scenes include introductions and commentary by Director David Slade.
- It’s Not Life or Death: The delightful Bella and Angela scene about boys and jealousy that is an essential part of the film but just would not fit anywhere pacing-wise
- I Can’t Wait to See What You’re Going to Do Next (Charlie and Bella after the graduation ceremony)
- Just Keep the Window Closed (One of the few times Edward and Bella have a fight like an actual couple. Personally, I would have kept this one in.)
- From Now on I’m Switzerland
- Someone’s Creating an Army
- Bella, I Envy You
- WHAT DID I SAY ABOUT A LOW PROFILE? (Xavier Samuel as the fierce newborn army leader Riley Biers)
- Jacob’s Thoughts are Pretty Loud (Edward admits he was a lunkhead for leaving)
JUMP TO …
Admit it. This is how you watch your Twilight movies over-and-over.
- The Love Triangle
- The Cullens
- The Wolfpack
- The Humans
- Victoria’s Army
- Action Sequences
Usually, DVD galleries aren’t much to look at it. But this is an extensive collection of both stills and production shots, many of which I haven’t seen anywhere else. And they are beautiful photos. You can watch in slideshow mode with Howard Shore’s score in the background at the speed of your choice, or jump ahead using the thumbnails
The soundtracks to all three films have been phenomenal. Previous videos on the Blu-Rays haven’t caught my interest, but these two songs encapsulate the themes of the Eclipse story and the videos integrate images from the movie. I’ve been watching the videos via streaming for months so it rocks that I have them on the big screen. Both songs should be nominated for Best Original Song Golden Globes and Oscars.
- Muse: “Neutron Star Collision (Love is Forever)”
- Metric: “Eclipse (All Yours)”
WHAT I WISH WAS ALSO INCLUDED:
- Storyboard and script split screen
- Feature on Howard Shore and the score, especially regarding the collaboration with Metric
- Feature on the bands and songs of the soundtrack
Overall, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse Special Edition Blu-ray is a great addition to any movie lover’s collections. For any Twilight fan, it’s an essential disc. The Special Features are certainly worth the few dollars more over the movie only version. The movie itself is worth the price of admission, but the quantity and quality of Special Features make this a great buy.
Fans of the movies finally get commentaries from those they most want to hear from. This Blu-ray also takes advantage of many of the abilities of the technology with the PIP documentary and bookmark creation. The documentary is very watchable, and gives not only insight into the creation of monumental sets and impressive stunts, but also into the characters and the themes of Twilight.
Last spring, one of my hospital doctors interrupted me reading Eclipse. “My wife read those Twilight books. I think if she’d done meth instead, I might have gotten her back sooner.” If that doctor’s wife gets the Eclipse Blu-ray, he might not be seeing her for a while.