Thursday, May 19, 2016

"Blade: Trinity": review


2004's "Blade: Trinity" stars Wesley Snipes as Blade, the half-vampire "Daywalker" on a mission to rid the world of all vampires. Kris Kristofferson returns as crusty old Whistler, Blade's surrogate father and weapons-maker (think of him as Q with a leg brace, a bad temper, and more than one shotgun). The main villains are Dracula himself (Dominic Purcell, the big dude from "Prison Break") and his assistant Donica Talos (Parker Posey, fanging the scenery with Shatnerian élan), a regular vampire who takes a vampire team to Syria to summon Dracula from his tomb in an effort to bring about the genetic fulfillment of the vampire "race" and the enslavement of all humanity.

I had greatly enjoyed "Blade II," a gritty and engaging film directed by Guillermo Del Toro ("Trinity" was directed by the inexperienced and much less competent David S. Goyer). This third movie pretty much left me cold. One major problem was that, even though this was the first (and, so far, the last) of the Blade films to use the Marvel Comics flippity-flip intro (Blade is a Marvel property, you see), the movie didn't represent Marvel all that well; if anything, "Trinity" seemed as if it had been made on a shoestring budget. Many of the special-effects scenes (like Dracula's Reaper-style jaws) were done in the shadows, and the FX scenes that were well-lit seemed bargain-basement in quality.

The story wasn't horrible, and it included some hilarious scenes involving a "vampired" Pomeranian, but it suffered from unoriginality and predictability—at least until the very end, when Blade and Drake (Dracula's modern nickname) had a surprising not-quite-reconciliation after their by-the-numbers sword fight. Unfortunately, even that unanticipated moment (Drake, in dying, ends up saving Blade's life by morphing into Blade's corpse) came off as tepid. All in all, "Trinity" felt like a movie that was just going through the motions.

I was surprised when, at the beginning of the film, Ryan Reynolds did a voiceover narration to set the scene. His voice threw me back to "Deadpool" (reviewed here), and his wisecracking character, Hannibal King, seemed pretty Deadpoolish, too, albeit far more subdued and far less nasty. Along with Reynolds was the smoking-hot Jessica Biel as Abigail Whistler—the wayward, vamp-slaying daughter who appears after the senior Whistler has kicked the bucket. (Whistler's death struck me as the culmination of a sick running joke: he had seemingly died in the first movie, then he got brought back and "cured" of incipient vampirism in the second movie, then he finally perished—we think—in an explosion in "Trinity.") Abigail was the film's Legolas, an accomplished archer armed with device-tipped arrows, much like Hawkeye in the Avengers. She also had a ridiculous weapon that was half lightsaber, half Klingon bat'leth, that she could use to slice vamps in half. Luckily, she didn't use it that often, relying more on martial arts and silver-knife-tipped boots to finish off her undead opponents at close range.

None of these elements gelled into an aesthetically coherent film for me. There was a recognizable plot, and I saw plenty of potential to amp up the interpersonal conflicts, add cleverer humor, and use better special effects, but all of these opportunities were missed by Goyer at al. The result was a disappointing ending to a trilogy that could have been far greater. If only Del Toro had directed again.

Here's that vampire Pomeranian:


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