In Eclipse, an antagonistic vampire with a grudge another vampire amasses an army of psychotic vampires to attack the good guys. Meanwhile, a bunch of werewolves team up with the good vampires to fight the evil ones, leading to a total all-out monster-on-monster war. So, why does Eclipse suck? Well, because it’s a Twilight movie – the vampires are whiny, angsty, emo-ish brats, the werewolves are bland, buff pretty boys, the romantic leads share no chemistry, and by law it is forbidden for anythinginteresting to happen. After all, if the stories contained anything interesting, it would stand in the way of what the Twilightfranchise is truly about: convincing young girls that true happiness can only be attained through co-dependent submission to emotionally domineering douchebags in the context of traditional marriage. If one eliminates all of the hokey mythology surrounding the vampires and werewolves of author Stephenie Meyer’s world, all that’s left is an ongoing, angst-ridden hormonal explosion.

With her senior year at high school drawing to an end, Bella Swan (Stewart) is standing on the precipice of all that is to become in the next phase of her life. While still longing to become a vampire in order to be with boyfriend Edward Cullen (Pattinson) for eternity, Bella is nonetheless torn by the dissenting opinions of others. Not to mention, werewolf Jacob Black (Lautner) still clings to the hope that Bella will dump Edward for him. You see, Bella may think she knows what she wants, but the boyfolk assure her that she doesn’t really. The lads know exactly what’s best for her, and will decide her future for her! Meanwhile, revenge-seeking vampire Victoria (Howard) begins creating an army of powerful newborn vampires. With Bella in imminent danger, the Cullen family and Jacob’s (shirtless) wolf-pack put aside their feuds in order to protect Bella (despite her manipulative, whorish tendencies).

There is enough compelling dramatic material in the Twilight concept for only one or maybe two feature-length movies, but no more. Yet, by the time the credits roll on the second Breaking Dawn film in 2012, Bella Swan’s existential crisis will have exceeded the 10-hour cinematic mark. I mean what the fuck? Not even Indiana Jones or Toy Story could be sustained for that long, and Twilight is definitely no Indiana Jones or Toy Story. Three films into the Twilight series, and the appeal of this agonising saga remains baffling. The stories are uninteresting, the characters are flat and dull, the mythology is dreary, and the romantic themes are centuries outdated. And this just applies to the books – the films are even worse due to the fact that, while it took only Meyer to write a bad book, Eclipse is the product of hundreds of hours of hard labour on the part of actors, writers, directors, producers, editors, etc. However, at the very least, there are a few self-referential jokes that provoke chortles, including a scene in which Edward asks if Jacob owns a shirt. 99% of the laughs remain unintentional, though.

Weird as it may sound, the Twilight films are progressively getting worse. The more money spent on them, the shittier they are. 2008’s Twilight was bad, but at least had some charm. 2009’s New Moon, on the other hand, was a turgid disaster which sputtered out with a tragic non-climax. The decline in quality continues here with Eclipse; a tedious slog that’s only fit for the most devoted Twilight fanatics. Dreary, stupid, tragically drawn-out and loaded with tedious dialogue, Eclipse utterly squanders the potentially badass premise of a vampire army fighting werewolves and other vampires. Instead of a film with fertile conflict and legitimate swoon, Eclipse books the bullet train to Dullsville. Once again, the adapted screenplay by Melissa Rosenberg is faithful to the source material to a fault. If Rosenberg were a good writer, she would have reworked the endless scenes of shallow idiots talking into scenes of semi-developed idiots with something worthwhile to say.

Aside from the warring battle, Eclipse is mostly concerned with rehashing the events of New Moon – i.e. the love triangle between Bella, Jacob and Edward. At the end of New Moon, Bella chose Edward, so the story should be over. But Twilight is a woman’s fantasy, and Meyer felt that a lot more could be milked from the dreamy notion of a girl being fought over by two young studs. The problem is that Twilight is an undernourished romantic fantasy with little realistic behaviour that spotlights a bunch of completely shallow characters. For crying out loud, Jacob continually tries to forcefully convince Bella that she loves him. Later, Jacob learns that Bella is marrying Edward and refuses to help in the forthcoming battle, meaning he only initially agreed to take part in said battle in a sleazy attempt to impress Bella and win her over. After his tantrum, Bella the evil whore tells Jacob to kiss her. Are you fucking serious?! Edward, meanwhile, is the type of overprotective, jealous boyfriend that girls hate (consider that he sabotaged Bella’s truck to prevent her from seeing Jacob). Yet girls still love this douchebag? Thus, the Twilight series is all about a girl’s choice between an overprotective, unreasonable, angsty brat, and a clingy, forceful asshole who can’t take no for an answer. Bella would be better off marrying her father, for fuck’s sake. By the hour mark of Eclipse, one’s eyelids become infinitely more interesting.

Honestly, it’s still beyond this reviewer’s mental parameters as to why Jacob and Edward make a huge fuss over such a dead-eyed, dithering bore of a girl. The film provides no compelling reason as to why these lads put so much on the line for a female who can barely wait to get out of her boyfriend’s line of sight so she can cuddle with another guy! Bella may be attractive, but, let’s face it, that’s all she has going for her. Shouldn’t love be based on something deeper? I mean, given the chance I’d probably sleep with Bella a few times, but I prefer not to have relationships with flat wooden tables.

David Slade was the director who took the helm of Eclipse. Slade previously directed the amazing Hard Candy and the visually stylish 30 Days of Night. A genuinely skilled horror director, it made sense for him to tackle a Twilight film. Slade, however, failed to do anything worthwhile with Meyer’s insufferable abstinence lecture. What should have been an enthralling, heroic film of affection and protection has instead been reduced to a dialogue-heavy slog which retraces several plot points of its predecessors whilst making barely any headway of its own. Slade had his trusty stylish urges and the most action-intensive Twilight script at his disposal, but the creative effort is indistinguishable – the director was clearly in studio employee mode here; making no effort to shake the actors from their melodramatic comas or to prevent the action from being nothing but a crunching blur of suspect special effects. There are a few entertaining moments here and there, but not enough to salvage this malarkey. The vampires turn to marble or something when they’re killed and the film is rated PG-13, denying Slade the chance to orchestrate some gory mayhem.

Do the Twilight producers actually advertise for bad actors? Inexplicably, the returning cast members are actually getting worse with each new movie. Kristen Stewart’s interpretation of Bella continues to be mopey and completely uninteresting – it seems as if she took a sleeping pill before filming and was perpetually fighting to stay awake. Robert Pattinson, meanwhile, submitted an all-time worst performance here as Edward. Reprising his role of Jacob is Taylor Lautner, who’s embarrassing for the most part. Lautner was somewhat decent in New Moon, but he’s full-on awful here. The young star merely acted the shit out of every scene, filling every line reading with pulsating, hammy, unearned intensity that’s more amusing than effective. Naturally, Lautner preferred to spend most of his time sans shirt to proudly show off his physique.

Despite the filmmaking talent behind Twilight Eclipse (Twishite Ecrapse?), the movie is a dull mess. Instead of finding an artful tone, director Slade merely filled the movie with a plethora of random pop tunes to provide atmosphere while working through a tedious story routine of swoon and quarrel. Plus, is anyone else disturbed by the messages that Twilight preaches to its target audience? It just tells young girls that virginity is important, and that you should marry as early as possible. Fucking hell, it is a blueprint for creating an entire generation of shy, demurring, deferential domestic abuse victims waiting to happen. Fans of Twilight will doubtlessly enjoy Eclipse, but this third go-round will not make Twihard converts of the rest of us. Three movies and more than six hours in, and there’s still no reason to care about this godforsaken franchise.