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The Twilight review once twitten, twice shy.

TABLOID! PICKED AN UNDEFILED TWILIGHT NEWBIE AND PACKED HIM OFF TO WATCH ECLIPSE. LUCKILY, HE CAME OUT UNSCATHED, AND THIS IS WHAT HE THOUGHT...

Okay, honest confessions first: This whole thing started when I volunteered rather overenthusiastically to find out what the craze surrounding the Twilight series was all about. I'd hoped there would be plenty of other anti-twihard volunteers like me, but there weren't any. And the twihard lobby in office did their best to counter my twepticism about teenage vampires and werewolves, mainly by arranging free DVDs of the first two films in the series. The lobbying notwithstanding, I caught up with The Twilight Saga: Eclipse in a Dubai cinema... and here's a minute-by-minute account of what transpired...

00.00

Opening credits roll up and here comes the action: teenager steps out in rain and something bites him... OK, so this is undoubtedly a vampire movie, but I can't recall who this guy is.

00.04

Familiar faces; here's Edward and Bella in the meadows. It's the Marry Me (Edward) vs Change Me (Bella) debate once again. If I hadn't seen the two earlier films, I wouldn't have understood this conversation at all. Isn't director David Slade trying to win over more twihards?

00.09

Bella debates commitments with dad Charlie. And Bella tries to drive her battered old orange pick-up truck to meet Jacob. Edward appears and warns her about the werewolves.

00.13

It's time to go back to school and Alice (yes! I remember her name) has a vision. The Cullen family (they are the vegetarian vampires who never bite humans, so to say) are arranging a party... yawn. The plot's just so sequential and linear that you wonder whether it's a film or a photo album.

00.15

Bella's mum praises the magnetic force of attraction between her daughter and Edward. I feel no such magnetism towards the plot. Maybe it's trying too hard to stay true to Stephenie Meyer's book (which I haven't read). Kristen Stewart (Bella) looks pretty in those sunglasses.

00.20

Alice has another vision. The good vampires chase the evil Victoria. And the werewolves join in. Not an easy plot to follow for those who know nothing about the series. Do your homework before (and if) you watch this, all you anti-twihards.

00.25

"Are you sure this is a good idea?," Bella asks Jacob. I'm not sure it's a good idea to scatter cliched dialogue throughout the film. I thought teenagers aren't particularly fond of cliches.

00.27

The good vampires form an alliance with the (good) werewolves to protect Bella. If only the UN was as effective...

00.30

It seems director Slade's (David) not very careful with wardrobes. Jacob has lost his shirt.

00.31

To further embarrass Slade, Edward asks Bella about Jacob: "Where's his shirt?"

00.40

Some action in Seattle, where the army of new-born vampires has unleashed a reign of terror or something of that sort. Victoria the evil vampire (Bryce Dallas Howard) is one of the film's more memorable characters, even though she's got minimal screen presence.

00.50

Yet another romantic conversation between Edward and Bella. If Dale Carnegie were alive, he would have written How to Stop Talking and Get Going. Also, are vampires entitled to existential conversations?

00.51

Wonder of wonders: a kiss. From Edward to Bella. Cuts away to Jacob, Bella and moment of truth: the werewolf is in love with Bella. Confession followed by a kiss that angers Bella. And a (near) fight between Edward and Jake. Why does it take a human cop to mediate between a vampire and a werewolf?

00.53

Bella ponders the dilemmas of being a vampire vs remaining human. Who are these people in black? I remember them from New Moon, just trying to put in context...

00.55

Ahh, they're the members of Volturi, if I remember right. Will call them vampire umpires. They're here to decide (on what?).

00.58

"Make as many mistakes as you can," says a graduating girl at Bella's school. Is that a sermon on the film?

01.00

Jacob presents a wolf bracelet to Bella. And Alice has another vision. I'm feeling a bit more comfortable with the Cullens, the Wolf pack and the Swans.

01.03

OK, some great action at last. The vampires and the werewolves train to fight the army of new-borns and Victoria. Jasper shows off his skills... It's getting interesting.

01.05

Charlie lectures Bella on the values of marriage. A typical dad-teen talk. And Bella's happy that Edward's old-school on all things romantic. That's too politically correct though.

01.10

The wow moment: Edward goes down on his knees and pops the question. And gives Bella the ring. Man, I'd love to read the Vampire code of conduct.

01.15

The one thing you feel at this point is the complete absence of a sub-plot or sub-text that could have enriched the narrative. And the painstakingly watered-down emotions. The strange gaze (or glare?) of Edward and Jake would have been so powerful if only they had some emotion in it.

01.18

The strange boy bitten at the beginning of the movie (his name is Riley Biers) is going to finish off the Cullens.

01.22

Lots of stuff happens: the new-borns hunt for Bella; shirtless Jake runs away with Bella; Edward sparkles in the glowing sun. The last is an absolute no-no I thought: vampires are only allowed to explode in the sun.

01.25

Jake and Edward engage in a man-to-man talk about Bella, as she lies with her teeth chattering in freezing cold in a mountain camp. One of the more mature conversations of the film, but we've heard most of it before.

01.35

Action time again as the new-borns attack Bella. Some good stunt scenes here, and Eclipse definitely has more of them than New Moon.

01.45

It's not over yet: the Volturi loyals are back, and Jake is injured in battle. A desperate Jake holds up the plot again... pleading with Bella to choose him over Edward. This refrain is worse than the noise of vuvuzela spoiling the World Cup commentary.

01.50

If the vampires and the werewolves can agree on peace, why can't the human world? I'm trying to convince myself this is a parable about...

01.53

.... nothing much. Edward and Bella set dates for their wedding. It's followed by a 33-second summary by Bella of what she's been through (just in case you didn't pay attention) and then they go away to live happily ever after (till the next sequel).

01.57

Closing credits... It's been a pleasantly visual treat, and an interesting movie. But a cult blockbuster? Not my type of blockbuster. And I'm still not sure why millions of people are spending a couple of hours to watch this.

01.58

The End. And while it's reassuring to know that the good vampires don't suck human blood, I don't think I'm coming back for Breaking Dawn.

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Date:Jul 11, 2010
Words:1189
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