Well how about that, 'The Twilight Saga: Eclipse' has transformed critical reaction to the vampire-and-werewolves-in-high-school series from silly kids stuff to filmmaking with teeth.

Early reviews are positive, citing a streamlined story, brisk action and an ability to wink at itself in this third cinematic installment of the Stephenie Meyer novels. Credit falls to the hand of new director David Slade ('Hard Candy,' '30 Days of Night').

The plot? In the Seattle of 'Eclipse,' a string of mysterious killings are taking place and those in the know suspect it's a vampire (Bryce Dallas Howard), building an army of powerful new vampires. In Bella's (Kristen Stewart) immediate world, graduation is drawing nearer and her heart is torn between Edward (Robert Pattinson) and Jacob (Taylor Lautner). Her choice could ignite passions at just the wrong time for everyone.

Read what the critics have to say: Well how about that, 'The Twilight Saga: Eclipse' has transformed critical reaction to the vampire-and-werewolves-in-high-school series from silly kids stuff to filmmaking with teeth.

Early reviews are positive, citing a streamlined story, brisk action and an ability to wink at itself in this third cinematic installment of the Stephenie Meyer novels. Credit falls to the hand of new director David Slade ('Hard Candy,' '30 Days of Night').

The plot? In the Seattle of 'Eclipse,' a string of mysterious killings are taking place and those in the know suspect it's a vampire (Bryce Dallas Howard), building an army of powerful new vampires. In Bella's (Kristen Stewart) immediate world, graduation is drawing nearer and her heart is torn between Edward (Robert Pattinson) and Jacob (Taylor Lautner). Her choice could ignite passions at just the wrong time for everyone.

Billy Burke, Peter Facinelli, Elizabeth Reaser, Jackson Rathbone, Nikki Reed, Ashley Greene and Dakota Fanning co -star. The movie opens Wednesday, with many screens starting the run with Tuesday night midnight showings.

Here's what the critics say:

The Hollywood Reporter: "Much of the credit for the success of 'Eclipse' probably belongs to the series' third director, David Slade ('Hard Candy,' '30 Days of Night'). He quickly establishes a rapid yet unhurried pace, a willingness to let tongue perch in cheek and an unapologetic indulgence in this basic fantasy of every teenage girl -- that two high school hunks are in love with her and willing to die for her, except, of course, that one is already undead."

Orlando Sentinel: "It's a jokey, self-aware movie, with members of that Harem of Hairdressers, the Cullens, joking about throwing a party because 'How many times are you going to graduate from high school?' Bella hangs around Jacob's pack - 'I know, I smell like a dog.' It takes thirty minutes for werewolf Jacob to go topless -- 'Doesn't he own a shirt?'"

Detroit Free-Press: "Slade manages to find time for all of the angles of this triangle to play out. The mix of serious tone and light comedy makes the romance interesting. All of the scenes featuring Edward and Jacob work better than in the other films because Pattinson has such a strong handle on playing the moody Edward and Lautner has finally become comfortable enough in his buff skin as Jacob to be on an equal acting plane."

'The Twilight Saga: Eclipse' trailer


Roger Ebert: "The movie contains violence and death, but not really very much. For most of its languorous running time, it listens to conversations between Bella and Edward, Bella and Jacob, Edward and Jacob, and Edward and Bella and Jacob. This would play better if any of them were clever conversationalists, but their ideas are limited to simplistic renderings of their desires."

Los Angeles Times: "No doubt the thanks in large part should go to David Slade, the latest director in the hot seat and just what the soap opera doctor ordered. Though 'Eclipse' is not high art, the 'Twilight' series does have its own sort of mystical magic in the way it blends teenage angst with epic political conflicts (vampire-land has just as many turf wars and ridiculously rigid rules as the real world). Slade finds a way to blend the street-smart edge he brought to 'Hard Candy' with the dark irony of '30 Days of Night' to bring some serious fun to 'Eclipse.'"

New York Times: "Those who mock (or praise) the pro-abstinence message of 'The Twilight Saga' tend to miss the way the movies in particular embrace the sensuous pleasure of sublimation with the kind of fervor you usually find only in old Hollywood or present-day Bollywood entertainments."

Chicago Tribune: "Already, 'Eclipse' has garnered notices praising it as the best and most action-packed of the three. Which I don't understand. For me it's the most ponderous and most sloppily directed, and by far the most deadening when the dramatic necessity known as 'talking' must be confronted, in between battles."

Boston Globe: "'Eclipse,' which is based on Stephenie Meyer's books (there are four), favors discourse over derringdo, and since the filmmaking is logy and rhythmless, there's also a lot of derringdon't. But in a season of lobotomized action spectacles, watching three teenagers -- one of whom happens to be as old as the hills -- prattle for two long hours about their feelings is noble. If the first two movies were 'get a room,' part three is 'get a therapist.'"

The Associated Press: "Still, the filmmakers made 'Eclipse' for the 'Twilight' faithful, so while the movie's a bit more light on its feet, it wallows in what fans love most, that whiny romantic triangle among a schoolgirl and her two beastie boys."

Philadelphia Inquirer: "The movie is a-teem with this triangular interplay: Bella switching back and forth, hot and cold, causing fits of peevish jealousy for Edward, for Jacob. Is it possible to love two people at the same time, she wonders. Oh, who cares? I'll just drive these guys batty."