I am on the record on this issue, just so we're clear. I disliked both Twilight and New Moon, would rather soak in lye than read any of the Stephenie Meyer novels, and have a fundamental objection to vampires who sparkle in the sun. I am no closet Twihard, okay? What I am is an optimist, and someone who's always seen a glimmer of promise in this massively successful franchise, resented by real horror fans and Y chromosomes everywhere. (The IMDb user rating is, mysteriously, already at 3.7/10.) I will go see Eclipse. What's more, I even hold out some hope -- not much, but some -- that it might be pretty good. Here are some reasons why.
1. David Slade. I wrote about this at slightly greater length here. It's not about Slade's undeniable chops as a straight-up horror director -- people who think any flick in this series will ever hold its own as a horror film are certifiable. It's about tone. My dream version of Eclipse is filled with the eerie tension that filled every corner of the first 40 minutes of 30 Days of Night. Sparkling vampires or no, this is fundamentally creepy stuff, and we may finally have a director who understands that.
2. The early reviews are positive. The first review from Variety's Peter Debruge says all the right things. According to him, the movie's more dynamic, edgier, better-looking, amping up both the action and melodrama. And there's apparently more Anna Kendrick, which can only ever be a good thing. The Hollywood Reporter liked it too.
3. The trend line points upward. Compared to the schizophrenic first film, the sequel, New Moon, was assured and purposeful: a suitably angsty teen soap opera with vampires. Still kind of boring and too long, but at least the franchise seemed to be hitting some sort of groove. Particularly with a real filmmaker at the helm, the third movie brings with it the hope of further refinement.
4. The trailer. The second one was pretty good, wasn't it? The camera moves, the effects look to be on the money, and Dakota Fanning is creepy as hell. Admit it, if it weren't for the loathsome Twilight "cultural phenomenon," you'd totally be into it.
5. There's Only Three Movies Left. This isn't really a reason to hope, per se, but in for a penny in for a pound. Much like Lost, which I watched for six years despite having lost interest after two, and with God as my witness, I will finish this goddamn franchise if it kills me. Out of spite, if nothing else.
Admittedly, I am trying to find reasons to be optimistic, since a weird and not altogether justifiable sense of duty will compel me to the theater this week. Still, who else is with me here? If anyone wants to start a Cinematical dragged-to-Eclipse support group, I'm totally down.