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Featured Blu-ray / DVD Review: The Eclipse

June 25th, 2010

The Eclipse - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray

When The Eclipse arrived on my desk, my first thought was, "Please don't be yet another Twilight rip-off. I don't think I could handle any more." However, the only similarity they have is the name. Okay, they both have elements of romance and the supernatural, but that's still stretching it.

The film stars Ciarán Hinds as Michael Farr, a woodworking teaching in Ireland struggling to raise his two children, Sarah and Thomas, after the death of him wife, Eleanor. Her death has also put a strain on his relationship with his father-in-law, Malachy McNeil. They are both having visions of Eleanor, which is understandable given the situation. Michael is also having visions of Malachy, which is a little harder to explain.

As the film starts, Michael is volunteering for the Cobh Literary Festival, where his duties include acting as a driver for two authors: Nicholas Holden and Lena Morelle. Nicholas is very successful author whose books are turned into movies. He is also a pompous ass that is full of himself, loves the attention success has brought, and generally thinks very highly of his work. (That description may seem a little redundant, but it fits.) On the other hand, Lena is a lot more humble and introverted and dislikes being the center of attention. Some time before the two had a romantic encounter, something Nicholas is eager to continue, but Lena would rather forget. (Nicholas was married at the time, but lied about being separated.) Michael is placed in the middle of this and the situation becomes more complicated when he hears he read from her book, The Eclipse, and her description of a haunting is eerily similar to his visions. This gets them talking and there is obviously a connection; however, there are equally obvious impediments. Michael is still dealing with the loss of his wife, while Lena has had a few too many bad relationships to want to jump into a new one. Then there's Nicholas. Nicholas is obsessed with getting back together with Lena, and he considers Michael as competition, and not equal competition, but someone that needs to be stepped over to get what he wants.

This is a bit of an unusual movie, being part character driven romance and part supernatural thriller. These parts don't always mesh well, but at least they help set the film apart. Also adding to the film are the performances, especially by Ciarán Hinds and Iben Hjejle. (I'm a little torn on Aidan Quinn, as his performance could be described as a little over-the-top at times. But I think if he had toned it down, it wouldn't have been as effective. Had he been more sympathetic... or sympathetic at all, the film might have been harmed instead of helped. It's an impossible question to answer.) Some of the jump scares do come off as lazy and distracting, particularly when compared with the more deliberate pacing of the rest of the film, but there is still a mood that helps.

It's a good story and the movie is helped immensely by even better performances.

I do not have the DVD to review, but I believe the only extra on the DVD is a making of featurette that has interviews with many members of the cast and crew, as well as a few clips from the movie. It's a meaty 27 minutes long and it is in-depth dealing with the early origins right to the reception by critics and moviegoers, so the disc doesn't feel barren.

The Blu-ray has this featurette and a shorter HDNet promotional featurette, plus it is BD-Live enabled. The film's technical presentation on High Definition is better than its $3 million production budget would seem to suggest. Colors pop, details are sharp, black levels are strong throughout, and I didn't notice any significant compression issues. It's audio is a little more mixed. It's a dialogue driven film, and like so many such films, the audio track is very clear, but uncomplicated. It costs just a hair more than 25%, which is a solid deal for this type of release.

The Verdict

The Eclipse is bolstered by impressive performances by Ciarán Hinds and Iben Hjejle and it is definitely worth checking out. There are not a lot of extras on the DVD or the Blu-ray but there are enough that I can rate it a solid rental, leaning toward a purchase. Meanwhile, the Blu-ray is worth is extra money.


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