Looks like the third time's the charm with the young-adult fantasy franchises. It wasn't until Prisoner of Azkaban that the Harry Potter films really came into their own, and now Eclipse brings the Twilight series into the big leagues. It still isn't great, and there still isn't much crossover appeal, but it's easily the best of the three films so far, with a well-constructed story, suitable climaxes, and -- at last! -- a main character who occasionally thinks for herself rather than being defined by her monster boyfriends. The men who are coerced into seeing Eclipse with their ladyfolk will surely enjoy this one more than the last two.

Our story begins with vampire fetishist Bella Swann (Kristen Stewart) about to finish high school. She hopes her undead boyfriend Edward (Robert Pattinson) will give her immortality as a graduation gift; Edward hopes he can convince Bella to marry him before he vampirizes her, as he is old-fashioned and courtly. Meanwhile, Native American werewolf Jacob (Taylor Lautner), the poor sap, still hopes Bella will forget the blood-sucker and choose him.

But there are larger issues to deal with. The problems of three little people, or one little person and two monsters, don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world. In nearby Seattle, young people are going missing in large numbers, apparently being converted by a rogue vampire named Riley (Xavier Samuel), who's assembling an army of reckless and especially bloodthirsty new recruits. Bella and company still have Victoria to worry about, too. She might have shapeshifted from Rachelle Lefevre into Bryce Dallas Howard (a lateral move at best), but her goal of killing Bella remains intact.