By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood June 28, 2010 at 2:08AM
Now that two positive trade reviews are in on Twilight: Eclipse, I can weigh in as well.
I agree with EW's assessment that this is the best movie of the three. For one thing, while Catherine Hardwicke did a strong job establishing the franchise, David Slade is by far the best director. And the story of Eclipse, adapted per usual by Melissa Rosenberg, is far more satisfying and well-structured than New Moon, which suffered from the depressed state of Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) and the absence of her vampire heartthrob, Edward Cullen (Rob Pattinson). While Chris Weitz introduced Cullen's werewolf rival Jacob (Taylor Lautner) in New Moon, in this third film, the central love triangle, as both men press their suits with Bella, is front and center.
All three actors are comfortable with their characters, and Slade finds the right balance of action and romance; the story feels organic. Some of the dialogue is earnest and silly--these are "teenagers" after all (it's slightly creepy when Edward reveals how old he really is), but the core strength of the Stephenie Meyer novels is here: the battle between life and love, warm and cold. A scene in a frosty tent with Edward unable to keep Bella warm is brilliantly executed. Judging by the screaming responses to the premiere, the series' female fan base will be more than satisfied by all the kissing and old-fashioned wooing, while the action stunts and wirework are also top-notch.
This movie, which opens June 30, will easily outperform New Moon's $700-million global gross.
It goes without saying that the faithful will devour "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse," the third movie in Stephenie Meyer's immensely popular supernatural love-triangle saga, and also the one in which Bella must finally choose between her two beastly suitors. The pleasant surprise this time around is that the result finally feels more like the blockbuster this top-earning franchise deserves. Employing a bigger budget, better effects and an edgier director ("Hard Candy's" David Slade), "Eclipse" focuses on what works -- the stars -- even as the series' parent-friendly abstinence message begins to unravel. Summer release should reap Summit's biggest yield yet.
The Hollywood Reporter agrees (while linking to premiere coverage and red carpet interviews mid-review, which I found annoying):
Bottom Line: The teen vampire series finally hits its stride with an entertaining mix of romance and action fantasy.
It took three films, but "The Twilight Saga" finally nails just the right tone in "Eclipse," a film that neatly balances the teenage operatic passions from Stephenie Meyer's novels with the movies' supernatural trappings.