I'll just say it right now, this film isn't completely crap. It's the first TWILIGHT movie that actually feels like a real movie. It has a plot which can't be said for the first two, and it actually has competent story telling. Is it a good film? No. Is it a terrible film? Not really. The thing is, no matter how good your director is, you can only elevate bad material so high before you hit the ceiling.
At first, hearing David Slade (HARD CANDY, 30 DAYS OF NIGHT) was set to direct this movie, I became strangely interested. Liking his work, I was curious to see how he would handle it. He's an extremely capable director who has some good action under his belt. And I have to say, I like his direction for ECLIPSE.
First noticeable improvement was the effects with the "vampires" (I'm putting quotes around vampire because I refuse to call these fairies vampires). The lame effects to make them faster is completely scrapped and Slade uses editing and cinematography to achieve the sense that they're incredibly fast. And this is done in the first scene of the film. Unfortunately, I think this one scene is the best scene in the entire series.
Other visual improvements are the wolves who look a lot less fake than in NEW MOON, but I still am not a fan of the style of the whole wolf thing. And while they look a lot better, they don't exactly interact with the environment as well as I think they should.
The biggest improvement in this movie for the series is the action. With this book really being the only book with an action sequence, they got the right director to handle it. The opening feels like it could be an opening to a horror movie. Excellent cinematography, good lighting and actually interesting. There's also a chase scene which is pretty cool, and the final battle was done really well and intriguing to watch.
Another thing the movie had going for it is that we got a little more interesting back stories on some of the characters. Unfortunately they're so small and quick that they're quickly lost and never mentioned again. Jasper actually becomes somewhat interesting as a character, but there's only emphasis on him for maybe two scenes. Which leads into what really tears this movie apart.
Everything good about this film is such a small part of the main plot that we don't get enough time with any of it. There's some decent ideas laying around as debris in this clusterfuck of a "story" that drive this series. I use the word "story" very loosely. The main dilemma of beastiality or necrophelia that's already been drawn out through 2 movies is STILL being thrown around, and it's even more annoying and old than it was in the last film.
I've already expressed my problems with the whole lore of the series before. The "vampires" sparkling and what not. That in itself is asinine enough, but the series is trying to make you connect with a character with absolutely no personality, or acting ability, who's just annoying as hell and lacks any sort of intelligence. At one point she's trying to convince a guy who can transform into a wolf that HE doesn't know what he's getting himself into when he's part of a family who has been doing that kind of stuff for generations. It's just moronic.
Anyone who says that they can connect with Bella is an idiot. Bella has no personality to connect to. She's just a blank slate for girls to fill in with themselves and have this illusion that they can relate to her. There's a difference between actually relating to a character and replacing the character with yourself.
The only character I see to have any sort of personality or arc is Jacob. He's the only character that actually develops in the series. He's a character that I know guys who hate the series can relate to. The guy who's clearly the better choice but won't get chosen because the girl he likes is stupid. My friend I saw this with has been there, I've been there (more consistently than I'd like), and most guys I know have been there at least once. But that's really as far as connect-ability to the characters gets.
Had Bella been as developed as Jacob, then MAYBE it would have been more tolerable, but most people I talk to can't stand her. And when your main character is the most hated person in the story, you've got a problem. The protagonist is supposed to make you care about the events in the film, and when that's nonexistent there's no reason to invest in the story.
I still believe that if this were a tongue-in-cheek series, it could have been great. But it's supposed to be taken seriously, but I just can't. David Slade tried hard with this film and succeeds in everything he possibly could. He actually got Taylor Lautner to act, a huge improvement from NEW MOON. There were some clever meta jokes thrown in the dialogue which I'm sure wasn't in the original script. Like "doesn't he own a shirt?" and "I'm hotter than you."
Everything that wasn't part of the main "story" of the series was done extremely well and actually decent to good. Just every time Bella came into play, the life was sucked out. Unfortunately that's the majority of the film, and those scenes are just painstakingly boring. It's not even so bad that it's hilarious like the last two, it just feels extremely slow. It's sort of an improvement, but at the same time makes the film less entertaining for me. But while the unintentional hilarity is gone, there was some genuinely good moments. Was it enough? Absolutely not. Will this make my bottom 10 of the year? Probably not. It's not a terrible movie, but it's not a good movie either. It's the best of the series, but that's not saying much. It's just meh.