Rating 3/5
Verdict: Thank goodness for Jacob.

The director of the third instalment of the Twilight saga had a rather fat block of nothing to work with when he set out to create Eclipse.

The Stephenie Meyer novel flips between Bella's (Kristen Stewart) decision to become a vampire so she can be with vampire boyfriend Edward (Robert Pattinson) forever, or remain human and try out things with werewolf Jacob (Taylor Lautner).

It's basically a rather long, confused internal monologue punctuated by humans pashing vampires, humans pashing wolves and vampires pashing vampires.

In two years Bella has moved on from fearing her lust for Edward in the first Twilight film, and from nursing her aching heart in the second New Moon, to being confident with her decision to become, well, a monster. But Stewart has not moved on from her awkward, sulky delivery. And if it was endearing then, it's terribly grating now.

Pattinson's Edward looks more sickly than ever, he still speaks with locked-jawed determination and pants as he declares his love.

At least their performances give peripheral characters a chance to shine - in particular Billy Burke who plays Bella's father Charlie, and Nikki Reed who plays Edward's adopted sister Rosalie Hale.

Thank goodness also for Jacob. A smart-alecky Lautner, whose arms are each now bigger than his head, turns what could be a trite script into something laugh-out-loud. A favourite line? When using his high lupine body temperature to warm a shivering Bella, he says to a seething Edward, "Well I am hotter than you."

Well, yes, the casting is still spot-on.

The film is also saved by complex battle sequences using fancy computer graphics and a punchy soundtrack. But despite a sinister opening sequence, this is no bloodier than the previous films, as it seems you can kill a vampire by snapping off limbs like big sticks of plaster.

Sure, there is a running plot about a new vampire army out for Bella but elsewhere Eclipse is a painfully slow game of love where no one scores. At least we have that to look forward to fourth and fifth time around.

Cast: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Billy Burke, Ashley Greene, Nikki Reed
Director: David Slade
Rating: M
Running time: 124 mins