Starring: Wesley Snipes, Ryan Reynolds, Jessica Biel, Kris Kristofferson, Parker Posey, Natasha Lyonne
Synopsis: Blade engages in a final battle against the vampire
menace by fighting the progenitor of all vampires, Dracula himself.
I will unashamedly admit that I am a fan of the previous Blade
movies. Neither of them are masterpieces, and they are no match
for Kathryn Bigelow’s ‘Near Dark’ in terms of exploration of the
vampire genre, however they deliver some excellent action sequences and
are generally enjoyable. Unfortunately, Blade Trinity fails to
capitalise on the previous success of the franchise and falls
disappointingly short in all the categories that make mindless action
films such great entertainment.
Blade Trinity is presumably the final instalment in the franchise as
this time Blade’s opponent is the originator of the vampire race –
Dracula himself. Should he succeed, the entire vampire race will
be extinguished. The vampires hope to use the original bloodline
of Dracula to make themselves day walkers (a notion that is
downright creepy). At least that is what I think the main plot
points were. Unfortunately the plot of the movie was even
sketchier than is usual with an action film. I am the first to
admit that whining about a lack of plot in a genre movie like Blade is
churlish in the extreme. However for any action movie to be truly
successful it must have a clear story that is easy to follow. The
viewer should be able to distil all the exposition down into a series
of plot points from which the action sequences will naturally
flow. The story is so slim that Blade Trinity offers the viewer
nothing to work with. As this is the 3rd chapter in the franchise
I was naturally expecting something that was a riff on all that which
had gone before, however such was the dearth of ideas that the only
thing on offer was a rather muddy and ill formed notion that Blade
would be fighting the ultimate evil. Well duh!
The main problem with the film is the reduction of the character of
Blade to a monosyllabic shadow his former self. Okay, so Blade
was never a man of a great many words, but Blade Trinity sees a
curtailing of his character that is extremely disappointing.
Whatever depth of character was present in the previous films has
disappeared to be replaced with a charmless and even worse humourless
Blade. A Blade that can be made the dupe of vampires who trick
him into killing a human thus becoming the target of the FBI and a
pariah to the everyday world. Wesley Snipes is so wooden he is
almost immobile, and without any smart dialogue his Blade pales into
obscurity beside the far more dynamic Nightstalkers played by Ryan
Reynolds and Jessica Bile.
Parker Posey, darling of the indie film set, plays Danica Talos leader
of the vampires who searches for and finds Dracula. I don’t think
I have seen a hammier vampire since Paul Reuben’s turn as Amilyn in the
movie version of Buffy the Vampire Slayer – and at least he was meant
to be funny. She looks great but has no real menace, not the way
that Stephen Dorff had as Deacon Frost in the original Blade. She
is also saddled with some of the least threatening henchmen in movie
history. Which offers no challenge to the good guys whatsoever.
Surely a tenant of any decent action film is that the villains should
be bad ass to the degree that it could be possible to believe that the
good guys will lose the fight. Can anyone say dramatic tension?
Blade Trinity sees the introduction of a new cast of supporting
characters for Blade – a group called the Nightstalkers who come to the
rescue when his lair is compromised and he is in need of a friend or
two. By and large the Nightstalkers are a forgettable
bunch. The wheel man and the gadget geek should have been wearing
T shirts emblazoned with ‘Dead Man 1’ and ‘Dead Man 2’. They are
simply underused and all the good gadgety stuff is missing too.
Natasha Lyonne plays a genetic scientist (who happens to be blind… a
bit of an issue for someone whose profession is all about observing
phenomena using a microscope) trying to develop an effective bio weapon
to combat vampires. Her character is a cliche to such a degree
that she actually caused me pain. Why is she blind? So she
can’t see the menace standing behind her. Whe does she die?
So she can leave behind a recording that commences with ‘If you are
watching this…I am dead’. Ryan Reynolds (Van Wilder Party
Liaison) gets the best of a bad script and has all the good wisecrack
opportunities. His action sequence work is good, but he is
slanted a bit too much towards comic sidekick/damsel in distress.
Plus watch out for an insult he gets to utter that should have shown up
in Bad Santa.
Jessica Biel joins the long line of action actresses who get to kick
ass, look pretty good and do a crying whilst in the shower scene so the
boys in the audience get their jollies (we girls get the rather
handsome and buff Reynolds…but does he drop trou for us?
No.) Bows and arrows must be de rigueur for femme action heroes
cause Biel totes a rather impressive one, with a special zip sleeved
outfit to make shooting the thing possible (leather is very
restricting). Apple must have handed over a nice chunk of dough
to feature Biel using iTunes to make playlists to listen to on her iPod
whilst ashing vamps – a very nice chunk indeed, as the script features
a direct reference to her doing this. Although one wonders how
she manages to successfully fight off vamps that approach her from
behind as Jurassic 5 do their thang in her ears.
Finally the most problematic issue is Dracula himself (named Drake
whilst in human form). The CGI for Dracula’s ‘true form’ is
uninspired and the actor who plays his human guise (Dominic Purcell)
is…well…thick necked and generally unimpressive. I prefer a
stylish, menacing lord of all vampires myself. Someone who makes
the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. Dominic Purcell’s
Drake is not scary. He’s not awesome in the way that he must be
in order for the entire plot of the movie to successfully depend on
him. A set of creepy contact lenses is not enough to instil fear
and fascination in the audience. In addition, the continuity
regarding his vamp teeth is terrible. At varying times in human
form he sports a single set of upper fangs, then a full set of upper
and lower fangs, then back to single. Bah! I would think
that vamp fangs would be more important than an afterthought in a film
about vampires. Especially after all the trouble they went to
using CGI to show how Drake has these funky predator-esque super
mandibles in his true form.
Someone should tell the tinsel town moguls that you do not hand the
reins of a relatively successful franchise over to a newbie
director. On paper it must have looked great. David S.
Goyer has definite film crew experience and lots of screenwriting gigs
to his credit (he penned the original Blade screenplay and has writing
credits on the other two). He even has a gig as a director for
2002 movie called ‘ZigZag’ which I have not had the opportunity to
see. However this does not mean that you have the chops to direct
a genre action film suitable to the calibre of the Blade
franchise. I think the script for this movie suffered because he
had to wear too many hats. His direction of the action sequences
is okay, but rather formulaic. His framing of Biel using her bow
was altogether too similar to King Arthur and other movies of that
ilk. Zoom is a meat and potatoes device and Goyer didn’t do
anything especially breathtaking with it. Similarly, the martial
arts and hand to hand combat sequences are rather pedestrian. The
only thing he didn’t bore us with was bullet time, which he didn’t
use. Although, to be fair the first action sequence has a nicely
executed car stunt. The only word that works for the movie –
script, performances and directing – is undistinguished. I was
hoping for more.
DVD – hopefully the extras will be interesting.