'Twilight Saga: Eclipse' more of same

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Robert Pattinson, left, and Kristen Stewart arrive at

Robert Pattinson, left, and Kristen Stewart arrive at the premiere of "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse" on Thursday, June 24, 2010 in Los Angeles. Photo Credit: AP

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In a rare moment of insight, the teenage but immortal vampires in "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse" complain about being "frozen" in their lives, unable to "move forward." So is everyone involved in this deathtrap of a franchise.

With each new installment (we're on No. 3), another director sells his or her creative soul and swears to obey the "Twilight" covenant. The make-out scenes shall be plentiful, though obviously sapped of suspense, given the series' finger-wagging attitude toward premarital sex. Melissa Rosenberg's dialogue shall remain at teen-soap level. ("We're done here." "No, you're done here!") Even the lighting, which soaks every face in a stock shade of moody blue, shall not change.

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Catherine Hardwicke ("Thirteen") and Chris Weitz ("About a Boy") already went down; they're followed by David Slade ("Hard Candy"). He ratchets up the violence to new levels - heads are not only smashed but severed - but there's no pushing that PG-13 rating. And so the vampires tend to shatter, not bleed.

The story, based on Stephenie Meyer's novels, plods on: Mortal high schooler Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) is still torn between well-fanged Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) and beefy werewolf Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner, once again the most natural actor in this stilted pack). When the bloodthirsty Victoria (Bryce Dallas Howard) comes calling, Edward and Jacob begin fighting over rescue-rights to Bella. And like many a bodice-clutching heroine before her, Bella can barely hide her delight.

The series is beginning to feel as airless as a coffin, but director Bill Condon ("Dreamgirls") has reportedly signed on for the next two films. "Twilight" has already claimed its next victim.

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