Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Blade Trilogy


It’s pretty refreshing when two genres meld together to give you a very entertaining film. Sometimes it works, as the case with Blade, a comic book film blended with the rank of horror…vampire horror in particular. Blade is the name of the Marvel Comics character and he’s brought to life visually and masterfully in this film adaptation released by New Line back in 1998. He’s a vampire hunter, but the twist here is that he’s a vampire himself. Born from a pregnant woman who was bit by a vampire moments before giving birth, Blade has all the powers of a vampire but doesn’t have the weaknesses.

I’d never followed any Blade comic book (and I don’t know if there ever was a run…I’m sure there was), but I did hear of the character at the time. Nevertheless, the character I watched on the screen highly surpassed any representation highlighted in any Marvel comic book that I’ve looked at containing the character.

Although I never really cared for Wesley Snipes in any movie he’s done, as I’d always seen him as the enemy (New Jack City, Demolition Man) and never liked him as the hero, I found myself having to make a decision back then: Should I or should I not watch Blade? I went with the former and decided to put my eight bucks or so on the movie.

I was a little taken aback by the beginning, already thinking that it was a bad start when they have a cameo by a former porn star, Traci Lords. And as it went to that meat house rave with the house music continually pulsating and pounding as the backing track, I started to think I’d made a bad choice seeing this flick. But from the first reveal of Wesley Snipes in his black outfit, complete with chrome buckled vest and black leather trench coat, I was hooked. As it went into the battle there with the ravers being mostly vampires all coming at Blade from all sides, I became awestricken. The fighting technique, the guns blowing away the vampires, his sword work, and that silver razor-sharp boomerang as he threw it within that round washroom space…wow! At that moment, it was safe to say that this was going to be a vampiristic extravaganza beyond my wildest expectations.

Wesley Snipes as Blade is paired with the rough and gruff actor, Kris Kristofferson, as Whistler. He explains in the film that he found Blade as a child and took him in, later hunting together and killing as many vampires as they can, which is their quest.

Blade, the film, took the vampire lore and kept the mythos in tact, only changing a few things as far as I can remember. Whistler says in the movie that crosses and wooden stakes can’t kill them but garlic and silver can (i.e., silver impalement by silver stakes or silver bullets). Everything else from the vampire legends holds true in this flick.

The bad guy in this film is Stephen Dorff as the demented Deacon Frost. He’s not a true blood, meaning he wasn’t born a vampire, merely turned into one. Frost’s goal is typical, as he wants power beyond reasoning, chiefly becoming a vampire god. He finds a way through the vampire archives that will need to include the vampire council and Blade to become this god.

The story of this first film is very interesting and fundamentally has a good guy and a bad guy. A lot of films have a fine line between the protagonist and antagonist, but this one has a clearly defined line between the two.

Blade II

After the success of the first film, it was pretty evident that a sequel would have to be constructed to get a good Marvel Comics franchise up and running. So it was essential that they had a good script and storyline for the second film as well as having it directed by someone who could pull it off. I don’t know how part two would’ve turned out if they kept Steve Norrington as the director because he did a great job with the first one and I don’t know why he didn’t do it (maybe scheduling conflicts), but the choice to have Guillermo Del Toro direct Blade II was a perfect choice.

Let’s face it, the obvious way to go into a Blade sequel would probably just have him pair off with another vampire baddie while interweaving a cool plot within that. But Blade II actually surprises us by having Blade work with the vampire community in order to kill off something worse: a more advanced (or diseased—depends on how you look at it) vampire that’s killing vampires. What a concept, huh?

The film opens up with a twist, so to speak, as we see a blood donation bank that is obvious to the audience as a front for vampires to get their much needed food, and we see some poor sap that we think is facing his demise as they lock him in the room. But this guy starts laughing, causing confused looks on his subjugators’ faces. Turns out, this guy is some kind of vampire to the nth degree, with some sort of multi-jawed mouth that looks kind of creepy.

Meanwhile, Blade is on the trail of the vampires with, again, some fabulous kills using some cool weaponry. Whistler turns up again, which is sort of confusing knowing of his demise in the first film, but there’s some sort of explanation as to why he lived. Also, there’s a new sidekick of sorts that works for Blade, named Scud, taking the place of Whistler during his absence.

Soon, the vampires come to Blade for his help in killing these new creatures, called "Reapers," and they offer a truce while they’re on the hunt. He agrees and both sides set themselves up with a team, called "The Blood Pack," to go after the enemies. During this time, the animosity that Blade has for the motley crew of vampires chosen for the pursuit is evident as well as the hostility he gets from them because they’re basically hating the fact that they need him to catch these advanced vampires.

In Blade II, there are quite a few new ideas in the weaponry and armaments, as well as the title character’s moral development throughout. The group of vampires that travel with Blade is a colorful assembly, with the performance of Ron Perlman standing out. In addition, the effects are a lot better (especially in the CGI department) and the fight scenes very well coordinated and executed.

Blade II definitely surpasses the first film in entertainment and story.

Blade Trinity

I had such high hopes for Blade Trinity, I can’t even begin to tell you.

But I’ll try.

First, when they announced that this film was on its way to theaters, I didn’t even know it was planned. I was happy, but just a little perplexed about the news. So I stayed on it, listening and watching the internet for any other info, which was decent.


The movie is released and I went, paid for a ticket and sat down to watch.

I was a little taken aback when I heard Ryan Reynolds’s voice as the narrator before the movie started, but I learned to put that aside. I think it might’ve been a little more appropriate to have Kris Kristofferson do the narrative, but oh well.

The opening was decent and looked like it was set up for a great story with the vampires going to the Middle East, into some temple, to find something underneath. Turns out to be some creature, like a vampire, but the audience doesn’t know what it is at this time.

Back at home, Blade is still fighting the good fight, going after and killing vampires. He’s hunting down some and stakes a bunch from a group he’s after until there’s one left. As he get’s to this last one and gets a clear shot, he shoots his silver staking gun and impales this last guy, but he doesn’t burn up and ash away like all the other vampires. The guy is laughing and tells Blade that he’s been set up (but isn’t the last laugh on him since he’s dying?), as we see the lead vampire, played by Parker Posey, on some building video taping the whole thing.


We see that the FBI has been on the trail of Blade for a long time and they get this recording as they try to get a lead on him. They finally get their chance as Whistler is followed to the hideout. This is where the movie starts going downhill for me because you’d think that Whistler would be a little more careful and be able to tell when he’s being followed or duped. But here he is just leading the FBI right to Blade.

Anyway, the feds raid Blade’s lair and all hell breaks loose as Whistler gets shot and has to blow all the computers. And even though he seemed to make all the terminals, he decides to blow the whole place while yelling out to Blade to get the hell out of the building. He makes it, but Whistler doesn’t.

Blade is taken in and held with some heavy duty arm cuffs while seeming out of it and done for.

The police tell the feds that it’s their jurisdiction now and force them out (although I always thought the FBI trumped the cops…oh well), and we see that the chief and psychiatrist are Familiars, to make Blade vulnerable. The vampires, thinking that they have Blade where they want him, come in and fuck with him. But before they can do anything, here come Ryan Reynolds and Jessica Biel to save him.

From here on, we hear Ryan Reynolds constant jabbering of one-liners and funny looks, ruining the movie for me. I’m a fan of Reynolds, but I don’t think action flicks are his forte. He should stick to comedies and THAT’S IT.

Also, the music soundtrack is constantly playing gangsta hip-hop songs, making this outing far different then the first two films. And another thing, it was getting very tiring watching the same shot of Blade, Hannibal King and Abigail Whistler walking in slow motion, trying to look bad-ass but it just came off looking goofy.

Overall, this movie didn’t take itself seriously. It seemed like a big joke and that Kristofferson and Snipes didn’t really put their heart and soul into this one like they did with the first two. Adding the younger and more popular cast was a mistake because it had just got in the way.

Blade Trinity missed the mark big time, which is too bad because this was such a good idea. I mean, what was the logical next step but to have Blade pitted against Dracula himself? I think if they had everything the way it was except for the young cast and without the hip-hop music, this would’ve been an excellent outing and a fitting close to a great comic book hero trilogy.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a good movie and some of Hannibal King’s dialogue is funny. Even Whistler’s daughter was a good concept.

My final “bit” is that Blade & Blade II are must-see flicks, whether you’re a Wesley Snipes fan or not. Blade Trinity is a good movie to watch and you’ll enjoy it. But it definitely is the oddball of the trilogy.