Television, books and cinema have all been swayed by the sexy danger of the fang in vampire tales like “Twilight.” However, like its mythical creatures of choice, the saga’s latest film, “Eclipse,” is rather cold and dead.

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse

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The core story of Stephenie Meyer’s “Twilight” saga isn’t original, nor does it really claim to be. Meyer’s work is unique, though, in that she simplified her idea enough to be lapped up by millennial teenage girls and those with equivalent intellectual maturities. That said, even the most puerile fan should have a hard time accepting this new installment as entertainment.

“Eclipse” continues the story of Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart), the lovely young (aspiring) fang-banger with a giant, six-packed werewolf problem. While she tries to choose between charming vamp Edward (Robert Pattinson) and dreamy werewolf Jacob (Taylor Lautner), the plot thickens as the two species — ancient enemies — unite against an approaching vampire army.

The film improves immensely upon the structure of “Twilight” and “New Moon” — after two hours, at least something has happened. Three films in, it’s as good a time as any to nail down basic plot conventions.

A few moments, such as Edward’s furious battle to protect Bella in the last act, provide a human spark to the fake ashes of the film. But the rest is lifeless, and it really didn’t have to be.

This isn’t “Harry Potter.” While not exactly a lesson in adaptation or a clinic in screenwriting, the boy wizard’s movie series has established an air of dedication in each installment, distinguishing itself from the half-assed “Twilight.”

“Eclipse” is like a cake without sugar, and never baked with love. No one seems to have put in even a meagerly consistent effort to improve upon the flat acting and overdramatic, comatose mise-en-scène of the first two films.

The drama is characterized by limp acting from the three leads, save for the occasional thrust of vaguely human energy. Their performances are not so much a reflection of a lack of talent; rather, they seem to suffer from the wholly unprepared and inconsistent direction of David Slade (“30 Days of Night”). Don’t expect an ensemble performance — it’s rare that more than one actor really shows up in any given scene.

The dialogue is insanely dull and slows the entire project to muck. While it is a failure shared equally by the screenplay, direction and acting, it’s unfortunate that the same screenwriter, Melissa Rosenberg, was given the opportunity to once again spill ink in the general shape of a movie script.

The film also dulls one of the few shining aspects of its predecessors: the music. The “Eclipse” compilation soundtrack is superb and worth an independent listen, but its tracks are used ineptly in the film. “Lord of the Rings” composer Howard Shore tried his best to score the film but was allowed only scattered cues. And as the third composer to work on the series, his efforts are in many ways futile: The “Twilight” films have been denied a single central musical theme, an almost essential tool in sustaining other film franchises.

The biggest problem with “Eclipse” is its creators’ blind acceptance of the film adaptation as a naturally inferior form; they don’t even attempt to transcend mass expectations.

Who didn’t expect this movie to suck? Even the film’s creators seem to expect mediocrity, and they did little beyond the bare minimum. Loyal fans, even those with low expectations, deserve better.

If you see “Eclipse,” expect a challenge. There are sparse tender moments to be had, but they require a constant resistance to the atmosphere of mockery in the theater. The average audience member needs to work hard to seriously enjoy this film.

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