The time has finally come when the third installment of one of the most popular teen franchises in the history of cinema comes to the big screen. Twilight: Eclipse is officially released on the 9th July but this weekend sees some advanced preview screenings of the third movie in the saga that has made Kristen Stewart, Taylor Lautner and our own Robert Pattinson household names.

With news that Eclipse has already broken the box office record for a midnight opening in the US, you’d hope we’re in for some good things. Read on to find out what I thought.

I’ve not read any of Stephanie Meyer’s books before seeing any of The Twilight Saga which I guess is good and bad. Good because I go into the cinema not knowing what is before me and bad because I have nothing with which to base the movies on. The books became a worldwide phenomenon well before the movies did and for good reason. Teenagers (mostly, but not exclusively) were able to lose themselves in the imagination of a book where Vampires had treaties with Werewolves, a Royal Family and struggled to pass through life as us humans. Merge this into a love story where a human falls in love with both a vampire and a werewolf and we have the Twilight Saga. But does this translate to the big screen to make a good movie?

Synopsis: In THE TWILIGHT SAGA: ECLIPSE, Bella once again finds herself surrounded by danger as Seattle is ravaged by a string of mysterious killings and a malicious vampire continues her quest for revenge. In the midst of it all, she is forced to choose between Edward and Jacob — knowing that her decision has the potential to ignite the struggle between vampire and werewolf. With her graduation quickly approaching, Bella is confronted with the most important decision of her life.

In this, the penultimate book, we get to see Bella having to make a choice between the two loves of her life and most of the script in Eclipse is spent in dialogue with either Bella and Edward, or Bella and Jacob. There’s no question that this movie is much darker than the previous movies, Twilight and New Moon, and that is thanks mainly to the British director, David Slade who was brought on to the project specifically to give it that darker edge. Slade is responsible for movies such as 30 Days of Night which is another vampire movie yes, but one of the darkest movies I’ve seen.

The cast for Eclipse is extensive and far reaching with stars being made of Anna Kendrick for example while shooting other movies in between the  Twilight series. She is sadly underused and I was surprised to see Michael Sheen (one of my favourite characters from New Moon) not making an appearance in Eclipse, but then he never appeared in the book (although I’m told he’s back with a vengeance in the final movie(s)). Kendrick is just one example of underused characters but I had to keep reminding myself that the books are based around the three main characters and I think that’s where the movies fall down.

I don’t know if reading page after page of dialogue in a book translates better than it does on the film as you find yourself getting bored. There were certain scenes in the movie where vampires were attacking humans in extremely dark scenes and I loved those, it why Slade was brought into Eclipse and it’s what he does so well, but the script is just so long winded and repetitive. That said, there were a couple of lines in the movie which had the audience roaring with laughter (I wont spoil them here) intentionally and that worked really well. Obviously there are the essential scenes of Taylor Lautner with his top off which again, had the audience laughing, especially when Pattinson asks the question:

“Doesn’t he have a shirt?!”

The sub story to the movie is the fact that Bella is being hunted by Victoria after Edward killed her mate in the original twilight movie. In Eclipse, she amasses an army that will have the Cullen family destroyed and Bella taken away from Edward which gives us an epic battle as the climax to the movie. I just wish that more had been made of this storyline than the love story. But that’s why the Twihard’s love it so much isn’t it?

Although critically, Twilight: Eclipse isn’t the best film ever made, you have to take your hat off to Summit Entertainment and E1 for making such an popularfranchise. The fan base is huge and I must remember, I am most definitely not the target audience.

Twilight: Eclipse is released in UK cinemas 9th July with advanced screenings this weekend. If you haven’t entered our Twilight competitions, click here to enter or click here to view our exclusive photos from the UK press conference yesterday afternoon in London. Also keep checking back for our footage from the press conference and the UK Premiere which took place in Leicester Square last night.