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‘Eclipse’: Forget ‘The Expendables’, the third ‘Twilight’ is THE old-school action movie of the summer

'Eclipse': Forget 'The Expendables', the third 'Twilight' is THE old-school action movie of the summer

'Eclipse': Forget 'The Expendables', the third 'Twilight' is THE old-school action movie of the summer

by Darren Franich

The Twilight series is, in many ways, a high school girl’s fantasyland: all the hot boys want you, all the girls want to be your best friend, battles are fought over you, your dad has a mustache. EW critic Owen Gleiberman has expertly noted the different strands of feminism, post-feminism, anti-feminism, and WTFism that run throughout the various audience responses to the series. But according to the L.A. TimesThe Twilight Saga: Eclipse snagged an audience that was 35 percent male, a whopping increase from the 20 percent male population that sat through New Moon. And I’m betting more men will see it in the ensuing weeks, because, in a weird way, Eclipse is an old-school action movie, recalling the plotline of Seven Samurai in its narrative economy and slow-burn build-up.

Consider: in Seven Samurai (and its fondly-remembered, actually-meh cowboy remake, The Magnificent Seven), a gang of outsiders help distrustful locals repel an invading force of nomadic bandits. Replace “Samurai” with “Vampires,” “distrustful locals” with “distrustful werewolves,” and “nomadic bandits” with “freaky newborn vampires,” and you’ve got Eclipse.  Sure, you could argue that not much happens in the first three-quarters of the Eclipse…but that’s pretty much how old action movies worked, in the pre-Schwarzenegger era. Action movies like The Dirty Dozen are about 85 percent build-up to one big action sequence, not dozens of tiny action sequences sprinkled in between unconvincing character arcs and terrible dialogue. (Hi, Transformers!) And what makes Eclipse even more interesting is that all the action-movie shenanigans are refracted through the eyes of Bella. Most old-school action movies featured a female character, usually a girlfriend or a damsel in distress, and Eclipsealmost plays like a Wicked-style re-imagining of an older movie from that damsel’s perspective.

I don’t want to overanalyze Eclipse or make it sound like genuine cinematic masterpiece. (Lest we forget, none of the Seven Samurai were walking around shirtless in the snow). But for a franchise about glittery vampires who love emo music and crying, I thought Eclipse was pretty fricking badass. What do you think of Eclipse as an action movie, PopWatchers? Is the threequel more male-friendly than the other Twilights? Or does the best reason to see Eclipseremain “My girlfriend begged me to take her to see any movie featuring any female characters at all, because she apparently blinked long enough to miss Jessica Biel in The A-Team?”

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