The Blade movies represent the extreme end of Marvel comic-based films. There are no confused teenage superheroes, no cool mutants, no muscular green guys. Instead, this is a hardcore series of films, filled with blood and gore as the titular character wastes hordes of vampires. Despite being grossed out by the splatter level of the original Blade, I liked the film. The sequel was even better. The third – and possibly final – installment is called Blade: Trinity. Like a lot of horror-themed franchises, this one has become stale on the third go-round.
The villain here is a new character called Danica Talos (Parker Posey), head of Vampire Nation. She and her minions have a plan to unearth the original Dracula and extract his DNA to spread a special virus that will allow all other vampires to safely walk around in daylight. This will empower them to fully take over the world, feasting on whomever they please, whenever they please.
Meanwhile, Blade (Wesley Snipes) is wanted by the FBI after Talos launches a covert media campaign designed to make him look like a serial killer. Once captured, he is rescued by two members of a new vamp-hunting group called the Night Stalkers. One of his rescuers is Hannibal King (Ryan Reynolds); the other is Abigail Whistler (Jessica Biel). Abigail is the “out of wedlock” daughter of Blade’s long-time friend Abraham Whistler (Kris Kristofferson). The Night Stalkers have a plan to prevent the virus from being spread. It involves spreading one of their own – a reverse virus, if you will. To make it work, they too need blood from Dracula (Dominic Purcell), also known as “Drake.” There is only one person up to the task, and if you have to ask who, then this is really not the movie for you.
The addition of two young bounty hunters must have been an attempt to freshen up the material, but it doesn’t work. Jessica Biel tries to come off as a real badass but doesn’t succeed. Faring even worse is Ryan Reynolds. It’s not his fault, but Reynolds looks like Jason Lee, sounds like Jason Lee, and seems to take the parts that would be rejected by Jason Lee. It was true in Van Wilder and The In-Laws and it’s true here as well. Reynolds is supposed to be the comic relief, but he plays the part with such familiar sarcasm that the humor becomes a distraction. Imagine Chandler Bing as a vampire hunter and you can begin to get a sense of Hannibal’s awkward role in the story. Of course, it doesn’t help when the actor is forced to deliver such lame dialogue. During a scene in which Hannibal is trying to avoid being killed by vampires, he quips: “I ate a lot of garlic today…and I just farted.” Even Parker Posey walks through the film, giving the same tired ditzy-villainess performance that she gave in Josie and the Pussycats.
Wesley Snipes, on the other hand, has gone from seeming cool in the role of Blade to seeming bored. He still has all the action moves, but the edge is missing from his persona. When I reviewed Blade 2, I wrote: “Because Snipes is a good actor, Blade feels like more than a one-dimensional comic book hero; we can see glimpses of his inner demons under the surface.” That’s no longer true. The character now seems very cardboard. The sense of heroism that propelled the first two films has diminished.
In fairness, the blandness of Blade may have little to do with Wesley Snipes and a lot to do with David S. Goyer’s screenplay. Goyer (who also directed) tries to come up with a topical story line, even going so far as to say that Dracula was found in Iraq. However, the juice isn’t really there. More time seems to have been spent dreaming up Hannibal’s corny one-liners than in developing an interesting conflict for Blade to engage in. The general ideas have potential that is never realized. Probably not even Spider-Man would have seemed three-dimensional in this half-baked plot.
Not everything fails. The action scenes are passable, despite a few clunky special effects. There’s no great excitement to them, but they generate at least a little bit of interest. I also enjoyed a few of the fringe elements, such as the bad guy who creates a vampire Pomeranian. (This truly must be seen to be believed.) There’s also an amusing bit in which Dracula wanders into a store that sells a lot of Hollywood Dracula merchandise. It’s probably also fair to say that, having enjoyed the first two Blade films, I had a certain investment in seeing what happened, even if it wasn’t particularly satisfying.
Blade: Trinity isn’t awful if you’ve followed the series, although one can’t help but feel that three entries is enough.
( out of four)
Blade: Trinity is rated R for strong pervasive violence and language, and some sexual content. The running time is 1 hour and 52 minutes.
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