What was most surprising about the box-office smash hit The Twilight Saga: Eclipse was not that it was a significant drop-off from the previous installment The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 (the previous film in the series to make money), but that it was such a big hit at all. With its final worldwide haul of $921.9 million, the franchise had become the highest-grossing of all time, surpassing films like Star Wars and Jurassic Park (not adjusted for inflation). In fact, it was the third-best-selling DVD release of all time (just behind the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings trilogies), and has since become the bestselling adult novel of all time. Its popularity has even spread internationally, with the French film authority CNC grading it as the tenth-most-popular film of all time in France, just behind Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings.
The success of Eclipse was a bit of a surprise considering that it was the first in the series not to feature the much-loved couple at the center of it all. If there’s one thing audiences have learned over the years about this franchise, it’s that no one seems to like the Volturi, led by Alice (played by Kristen Stewart), and they certainly don’t like Robert Pattinson’s (Edward Cullen) human servant. In fact, the third installment ends with a very clear-cut division between the two groups, with Bella (Stewart) choosing the humans and the Cullens going their own way. This was a difficult decision for Bella to make, but one that paid off handsomely, both critically and financially.
This was a bit of a departure for Stewart and Pattinson, who had previously worked together on several films (most notably Twilight and its sequels), and it must have been a trying period for them. They had also recently dealt with some very public and nasty breakup rumors, so perhaps they needed a reset. Whatever the reason, here they are, back together as a couple, and stronger than ever. And what a better way to prove it to the world than with a massive blockbuster.
Eclipse marks a new beginning for the franchise, as well as for the actors, who have seemingly grown together as a result of their time apart. While Stewart has talked about how hard it was to continue living in her ‘Twilight bubble’ once filming was finished, she has since gone on to appear in other films that are part of a diverse acting career, while Pattinson has focused on producing, writing, and directing. The result is a richer and more mature performance from both actors, and one that will hopefully continue to pay dividends.
The Dark Side Of Popularity
Despite its critical and commercial success, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse is not without its problems. Perhaps the biggest issue is with its handling of the franchise’s most well-known and cherished characters. As we’ve established, Bella is a literary superstar, with her adventures at the center of a whole series of novels. She’s a well-regarded and well-known figure for a reason, which can be both a blessing and a curse when it comes to representing a franchise.
From the very beginning of the series, a recurring theme in the writing has been Bella’s desire to be ‘normal’. In the first film, she tells her fellow vampires that she wants to be a normal high-school student, going to classes and hanging out with her friends. This is something that she feels she can never be, and it’s a sentiment that continues in later installments. It’s a very convenient plot device for the series, this desire to fit in more with the common folk, because it means that at any given moment, Bella can go from being the most desired woman in the known world to the scariest creature imaginable.
Dark Days Ahead
Let’s be honest, vampires are pretty cool. They don’t get tired, they don’t need to sleep, and they don’t get sick. Not many people can say that they’re truly cool, in other words. If you’re one of the few, congrats! You’re in for a treat. Vampires also have an array of superpowers, which can be both a blessing and a curse. They’re able to walk in the daylight and their skin is impervious to harm. This is obviously a double-edged sword, as much as it would be cool to have glowing red eyes, it’s also kind of scary to be stuck with a blood-thirsty carnivorous freakshow.
While the first film focuses on Bella’s decision to leave the safety of her home community and go on the run with her human love interest, Mike (Taylor Lautner), the later films delve deeply into the politics of being a vampire. The Cullens are essentially the good guys in this series, and over the years, they’ve taken on a life of their own, with their own society and culture. They also have a lot of growing up to do, especially in terms of how they deal with humans, who they decide to protect and nurture, as well as how they choose to fit into their new lifestyle.
Although the franchise got off to a brilliant start, with each new installment picking up where the previous one left off, the quality of the writing has declined steadily. There are several instances where the dialogue in later films is just awful, with characters spouting poorly written ‘flowery’ speeches that go nowhere and serve no purpose. It’s difficult to establish any sort of vibe or flow to these scenes, as they’re essentially forced, contrived, and dull.
On the opposite end of the quality spectrum, however, are scenes of genuine emotion and intimacy. The relationship between Bella and Edward is the kind that everyone hopes will blossom into a lasting romance (even if it doesn’t). It’s raw, it’s real, and it’s completely captivating. It’s something that the franchise has never really given us before, and it’s made all the more powerful by the fact that it’s never spoken about before.
In general, the franchise has always held a special place in the hearts and minds of viewers. It has always been praised for its unique take on fantasy and its ability to pull off such a massive global audience. While it has always been a lightning rod for controversy, with fans divided over the couple’s relationship and the way that the series often chooses to depict violence and sex, the quality of the writing and the performances have only gotten better with time.