TAGS eclipse

Let me start off by saying that as the youngest of four kids by 10 years, I saw pretty much whatever I wanted from a very early age. I realize it might sound hypocritical that someone who saw 'Flashdance' when she was eight and 'The Exorcist' a year later should deem a mostly chaste vampire-drama like 'The Twilight Saga: Eclipse' verboten for little kids. But I'm a mother now, and I'm also a professional movie reviewer who spends at least 10 hours a week thinking and writing about the age-appropriateness of various movies. So after much consideration I believe that 'Eclipse' is not for most elementary-schoolers, with the possible exception of very mature 11- and 12-year-olds (as in, those you'd feel comfortable talking about teenage relationships and sex and marriage with).

Yes, I know Stephenie Meyer's 'Twilight' books are a young-adult series that even precocious 8- and 9-year-olds could read. But that doesn't mean they should read the books (particularly 'Breaking Dawn'). Before you flame me for being a hater, I'd like to add that I read (more like devoured) the first three books in spring 2008 and a few months later dragged my then-43-year-old sister to the 'Breaking Dawn' release party at a Barnes & Noble that August. I experienced first-hand the emotional pull of the Bella-Edward romance and the Bella-Jacob relationship. I, like millions of other readers, got swept up in the romance with a capital R.

Let me start off by saying that as the youngest of four kids by 10 years, I saw pretty much whatever I wanted from a very early age. I realize it might sound hypocritical that someone who saw 'Flashdance' when she was eight and 'The Exorcist' a year later should deem a mostly chaste vampire-drama like 'The Twilight Saga: Eclipse' verboten for little kids. But I'm a mother now, and I'm also a professional movie reviewer who spends at least 10 hours a week thinking and writing about the age-appropriateness of various movies. So after much consideration I believe that 'Eclipse' is not for most elementary-schoolers, with the possible exception of very mature 11- and 12-year-olds (as in, those you'd feel comfortable talking about teenage relationships and sex and marriage with).

Yes, I know Stephenie Meyer's 'Twilight' books are a young-adult series that even precocious 8- and 9-year-olds could read. But that doesn't mean they should read the books (particularly 'Breaking Dawn'). Before you flame me for being a hater, I'd like to add that I read (more like devoured) the first three books in spring 2008 and a few months later dragged my then-43-year-old sister to the 'Breaking Dawn' release party at a Barnes & Noble that August. I experienced first-hand the emotional pull of the Bella-Edward romance and the Bella-Jacob relationship. I, like millions of other readers, got swept up in the romance with a capital R.

But the more I reflect on the saga, the more I realize that Bella and Edward's controlling, all-consuming relationship (for which she is willing to forsake her humanity, her family, her best friend) provides a pretty terrible example for young girls (the majority of the hardcore fans are women and girls) -- and the movies are simply not appropriate for the 8-year-old-looking kids I saw at the preview screening Monday night. It's not the language (there barely is any) or the sex (it's mostly passionate kissing and longing looks), but the amped-up violence, and more important, the confusing messages that make the film too intense for highly impressionable tweens and younger.

Twilight EclipseOnly parents can decide for certain whether their children are ready for a particular film, but be aware of what's in 'Eclipse': newly created "newborn" vampires that kill so many humans for blood, Seattle believes there's a serial killer on the loose; a climactic battle scene that includes widespread decapitation, dismemberment, and burning vampires to death; one flashback that includes mass murder and another that implies a fiancé orchestrated a gang rape of his intended bride; and several passionate kisses and a proposition to have sex that is gentlemanly rejected.

Even more upsetting than all that is Edward's jealousy and overprotectiveness -- to the point of disabling Bella's truck and asking her repeatedly not to see her best friend -- and Bella's single-mindedness to transform into a vampire before she's "older" than Edward, even if it means never seeing her mother and father and friends again. While mature teens who've read the books may be old enough to understand that this is not the way love works in the real world, tweens could be confused and so "dazzled" by the "perfection" of Edward and Bella that they idealize their romance.

For once, I have to agree with the MPAA. This is a movie for teens and up. Teens -- especially those old enough to go on dates -- should be able to differentiate between the fantasy that Meyer, and by extension the filmmakers, describe, and the reality of imperfect, immature, flesh-and-blood adolescent dating. 'Eclipse' is an ideal mother-teenage-daughter movie date, because after all the swooning and clapping (it's nearly impossible not to, especially when Taylor Lautner is on screen), you can have an honest, grown-up discussion about love and marriage (and the fact that outside of religious teens, very, very few 17-year-old guys will suggest putting off sex for the sake of his willing girlfriend's virtue, like Edward).

Just do yourself a favor and leave the single-digit-aged kids at home. Tell them to read 'The Chronicles of Narnia' or 'Harry Potter' instead.