US reviews suggest third instalment in series of films based on Stephenie Meyer’s vampire novels is best so far

Good news for Twilight fans and their guardians: early reports from America suggest the third instalment in the bloodsucking saga is the best so far by some way.

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, which opens in the US this Friday and in the UK on 9 July (its premiere is tomorrow night), has received strikingly positive reviews in trade papers Variety and the Hollywood Reporter.

Both publications gave a big thumbs up to incoming director David Slade, who is said to have refocused the story away from superfluous special effects and back on to the three leads. Stephenie Meyer’s novel – on which the film is based – involves the final bit of flip-flopping by high-schooler Bella (Kristen Stewart) between undead paramour Edward (Robert Pattinson) and werewolf suitor Jacob (Taylor Lautner).

The result, says Variety’s Peter Debruge, “finally feels more like the blockbuster this top-earning franchise deserves … Despite the somewhat simple-minded source, the producers plot everything as if it were a strategic game of chess.” The result? “Eclipse feels the most cinematic of the series so far.” It’s a view echoed by the Hollywood Reporter’s Kirt Honeycutt, who thinks “Eclipse [is] a film that neatly balances the teenage operatic passions from Stephenie Meyer’s novels with the movies’ supernatural trappings”.

Honeycutt especially likes its sense of humour, highlighting dialogue that has Edward say to Bella, of the oft-topless Jacob, “Doesn’t he own a shirt?” Of the three leads, it’s Lautner who’s picked out for particular praise: “[He] nearly steals the movie with his ripped muscle and steely acting. He definitely has the ‘it’ factor Hollywood always looks for.” © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds