Unlike my basic curiosity about Harry Potter, eventually making me a big fan of

the books and the film franchise, I was attracted to the Twilight saga via Kate Beckinsale

and Underworld. I was so fascinated by it that I bought all four Stephanie Meyer novels

on unabridged audio book editions, listening to them first before seeing the first movie.

While I agree with the majority that the books are better, this certainly has not

stopped Summit Entertainment’s adaptations of the vampire/werewolf tomes of becom-

ing one of the most successful film franchises in history. And the third, Eclipse, is the

best thus far.

Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner return to their respective

roles under the direction of 30 Days of Night’s David Slade. Dealing with vampires be-

fore and working from a lively script from Twilight screenwriting steady Melissa Rosen-

berg, Slade creates an exciting tale coupled with intense drama and back stories that are

not intrusive or forced.

Seattle has been under siege by (unbeknownst by the general population) a new

breed of vampires. They strike at will, feeding on the blood of some while converting o-

thers to their “side.” Their supernatural deftness has of course left law enforcement offi-

cials completely baffled.

Edward Cullen and family are certainly not incognizant of these goings on, espe-

ially with the clairvoyant Alice. It becomes quite apparent that there’s more to this than

just random killings and disappearances. Besides that, Edward must also deal with arch

rival Jacob’s intense campaign to take Bella away from him.

Things get even more complicated when all evidence points to an army of bad

vamps created by the vengeful Victoria to wage a battle against the Cullens. Problem is,

they can’t fight them alone. So who’s the logical and surprisingly ironic choice to request

help from? That’s right, the wolves.

After Twilight’s basic introduction to all the characters and New Moon’s estab-

lishing the wolves and the Volturi, director David Slade skillfully combines all previous

mystical elements into an exciting two hours from Meyers third book in the saga. He revs

up everything to a point much more interesting than the last two films.

Rosenberg’s dialogue and sequences thankfully come directly from the book, she

doesn’t try anything fancy or inconsistent. Notably is the “little” conversation between

Edward and Jacob during a compelling tent scene in the snow. It’s also a bit amusing be-

cause it explores rather briefly the unlikely possibility of our two antagonists actually be-

coming friends.

Bryce Dallas Howard who replaced Rachel Lefevre, is beautifully ferocious as

Victoria. She’s a quick witted, high speed hellcat determined to avenge the death of her

lover, James, by killing Bella. Ms. Howard may be onscreen for a relatively short time,

but makes a strong impact in every scene she’s in.

It’s a bit of a shame that a prime victim of Victoria’s, Bree Tanner, portrayed bril-

liantly by Jordelle Ferland, has an even shorter timeline. Meyers new novella focusing on

the new born justified at least more character development and screen time. The book is

titled “The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner. It’s excellent and should be read before

seeing Eclipse.

If you were impressed by the few special f/x seen in the trailer, you won’t  be disa-

ppointed when you see them all. The Tippet studio along with six other movie magic

houses make everything look frighteningly real. Especially the werewolf/ vampire bat-

les and Edward’s climactic confrontation with Victoria.

Some “twilighters” who have read the books weren’t very astounded by the first

two movies. This third installment has a razor sharp edge that seems to include every-

thing Twilight and New Moon lacked. They should find it a pretty good thrill ride.