|Rating:RATED R for Violence, Language, and Eurotrash Accents
Starring: Wesley Snipes, Jessica Biel, Ryan Reynolds
Directed By: David S. Goyer
Blade’s back, in his third filmed hunt for vampires. This time, under the direction of his long-time screenwriter David S. Goyer, he’s up against the original vampire. That’s right, the character who’s appeared in more American movies than any other…Dracula. As the rules of the trilogy say….in the third, all bets are off.
Wesley Snipes’ Blade is as bad as ever. He’s less talkative, and actually, less involved. The story spends more time introducing us to the Nightstalkers, a group of vampire slayers that’s led by Blade cronie Whistler’s (Kris Kristofferson) daughter Abigail (Jessica Biel, who’s scrumptious) and former vampire Hannibal King, a cocky youngster who’s played by Ryan Reynolds. The group saves Blade from an early “faux pas,” and soon enough are joining in his quest to stop a bunch of evil vamps who’ve found the grandfather of vampirism….good old Drac.
Or Drake, as he’s apparently known more simply, which is just one of the signs that this is not your father’s Dracula. He doesn’t turn into mist or a bat, he doesn’t wear a black cape, and his accent is only a little bit European. He looks more like a professional wrestler than the lord of the vampires should, and he finally shows his full image in the final battle. I highly doubt it’ll remind you of Bela Lugosi or Christopher Lee.
The Dracula story is, as always, malleable. Goyer sculpts a picture of Dracula as the original, un-evolved, vampire, who’s been sleeping one off for a few hundred years. This may be due to the fact his minions/descendants now look like depressed anorexics or steroid pumped freaks that are only interested in showing their fangs at all times, probably because it looks cool. These vamps are led by Danica Talos (Parker Posey) and her biggest hench-vamp, Jarko (professional wrestler Triple H), and are really the worst part of this movie.
Posey’s performance ranks as one of the year’s worst. If you saw the trailer and noted that one shot of her walking, looking anorexic and trying to jut her fangs out with all her might, you’ve seen the entire range of her performance. Triple H gets in a few decent lines as the tough guy opposite the sarcastic slayer Hannibal King, but he’s mostly there to look tough, which he doesn’t always do. In fact, he looks a little constipated. I think the film missed the mark here, and could have left these characters’ involvement at a much smaller level – Dracula needed to be focused on more than these fellows.
Fortunately for us, the good guys aren’t unwatchable. Snipes does his thing once again, and does it well. His trademark quips of the first two films are not as numerous, but he still gets in a few good ones while being ruthless as ever. I think Goyer wanted us to see this as a more “burnt out”, cynical Blade, which is accomplished, if only through Snipes’ mannerisms.
The more likable characters are Biel and Reynolds’ Nightstalkers. I’d heard the rumblings about a possible spin-off following these guys instead of Blade, and I’m all for the change of pace. Biel oozes hotness, while not really saying much, and also handles herself well in battle scenes, keeping up with Snipes for most of the film. Reynolds, on the other hand, is mostly there for comic relief. Here he’s as sarcastic and sharp-witted as ever, channeling his “Van Wilder” persona perfectly into this role. His barbs with Blade really save the first half of the movie from being boring exposition, and, through the finish, he always has something entertaining to add to the film. Except for that hideous beard.
This movie also gets extra points for having James Remar in a small role as an FBI agent. James Remar is cool.
As for the technical, Goyer’s direction is nowhere near as polished as the filmmakers that came before him were, and he overuses montage and slow-mo shots to an annoying degree. The film still feels fresh, however, possibly due to the slower pace than its predecessors. It may lose a little of the intensity that made its forebearers so loved, but it fits the tone of this story perfectly. This time Blade’s not about frantic energy, he’s about preparing for the “endgame” (boy, how I hate that silly term). It needed to be a more restrained film, and it is, thanks to another very good script from Goyer.
It may be hard for fans of the first two Blade films to accept the change of tone Goyer brings here, but I thought it worked well. It’s not as cool as Stephen Norrington’s original film, and not as stylized as Guillermo Del Toro’s sequel, but it fits into its own place well. As a whole, I think I liked Trinity a little better than the second film, but, like that one, it’s a far cry from the original Blade. Goyer isn’t succesful enough (and the villains are far too annoying) to make me give it a full recommendation, but fans of the character and/or comic could do worse. Blade Trinity is just entertaining enough to keep me smiling, while just off the mark enough to make me want more.