Starring: Kristen Stewart, Rob Pattinson, Taylor Lautner
Directed by: David Slade (“30 Days of Night”)
Written by: Melissa Rosenberg (“New Moon”)

“The Twilight Saga: Eclipse” has a few factors working in its favor that the two prior installments were sorely lacking. With more humor, feasible action scenes, and less-tacky romantic interludes, the teenage vampire-werewolf pairing manages to give the series a bit more entertainment value than before right at its midway point. It’s just too bad the actors still have to open their mouths and actually say things.

In “Eclipse,” jealousy hits an all-time high as vampire hunk Edward Cullen (Rob Pattinson) and wolf boy Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner) continue to vie for the love of human Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart).

This time, however, the monster men must put their detestation for one another on hold and team up so they can protect Bella from killer vampiress (Bryce Dallas Howard who takes the role over from Rachelle Lefevre) and a brand new threat she has formed. An army of vampires led by Riley (Xavier Samuel), a missing college student from Seattle, has been transformed by Victoria and sent out to recruit “newborn” bloodsuckers.

“Twilight” fanatics will be pleased to know that while the cast doubles in size in the newest film, the love triangle between Bella, Edward, and Jacob still takes precedence over any additional plots that keep the saga moving forward. Along with the tweeny melodrama, Bella continues where she left off in “New Moon” and still longs for Edward to make her immortal.

Directed by David Slade (“Hard Candy,” “30 Days of Night”), “Eclipse” is the best of the franchise. That, however, doesn’t say much since “Twilight” and “New Moon” – despite raking in hundreds of millions of dollars and being adored by a committed fan base that actually think Stephanie Meyer’s books are well written – are nothing more than the equivalent of a supernatural Disney Channel-type show.

While darker and a bit less ridiculous that the first two movies, “Eclipse” is still adapted from sappy source material into a tired script by screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg. “Eclipse” – along with its next two installments – won’t have any trouble reeling in the alliance of screaming teenage girls and creepy moms that are already hooked, but no amount of Robert Frost poetry (“Fire and Ice” is recited in the opening scene) or ripped abdominals has made this sexless, angst-driven fad a memorable franchise thus far.

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