by Mel Valentin
Wire stunts, gunplay, swordplay, exploding vampires, car chases (and crashes), a generic metal score, and comic book violence. Sounds like a formula for success, right? Well, it was, at least five years ago. It's the formula set up in "Blade," a comic book adaptation of a Marvel property that was first released in 1998 (the cleverly titled sequel, "Blade II" followed in 2002). Before his big-screen debut, Blade was best known as a supporting character in the 1970s-era "Tomb of Dracula" comic book created by Marv Wolfman and Gene Colan. Blade eventually got his own (short-lived) spin-off series, but it was enough to pique the interest of the Powers-That-Be in Hollywood looking for another profitable superhero franchise.Once, not long ago (e.g., 1998), Blade had everything comic book fans (especially those in the all-important male teen demographic) could want: gratuitous violence, occasional flashes of skin, and a cooler-than-cool hero in "Blade" (Wesley Snipes), a half-man, half-vampire avenger armed with a samurai sword (among other, death-dealing weapons). Two films later, though, and it's become clear that writer-turned-director, David S. Goyer, has anywhere new or original to take the character. Blade: Trinity is, sadly, D.O.A. Blade: Trinity might be called a "trilogy" in the marketing materials, but it's not. It's just the last of three, loosely connected films sharing a central character and a premise in common.
"Please, Heavenly Creator, let this be the last 'Blade' movie."
Blade: Trinity brings back the Eurotrash vamps that hung around the set of the first film, bringing another colorless one-dimensional, Danica Talos (Parker Posey) into the mix. Danica isn't much of a villain, though, given her size (Parker Posey is about 5 feet tall), so another, presumably more fearsome villain had to brought in to face Blade. Dredging the bottom of the creative barrel for ideas, Goyer settled on that overused plot device, the first vampire. It's none other than Dracula (Dominic Purcell), here inexplicably called Drake. Drake has been taking a centuries-long nap underneath the floor of a temple located in the Syrian Desert. Danica soon learn that Dracula isn't a morning person: he yanks off the head of one of Danica's foot soldiers. Doesn't really matter, since the foot soldier had only one line of dialogue before being turned into a gory meal for Dracula (I mean Drake).
Danica has awakened Drake to put some kind of world-domination plan into motion (why else?). Her plan involves Drake's pure vampire blood. As the first vampire, Drake is the most powerful, capable, like Blade, of walking in daylight. Blade, of course, will do anything to stop Danica's nefarious plan, but this time, it means Blade will need a little help. Digging into the comic books for inspiration, Goyer came up with the Nightstalkers, young, inexperienced vampire hunters. Hannibal King (Ryan Reynolds) acts as the de facto leader of the Nightstalkers (all five of them). Hannibal's right-hand man, actually woman, is Abigail Whistler (Jessica Biel), the estranged daughter of Abraham Whistler (Kris Kristofferson), Blade's mentor and sidekick. The Nightstalkers have a high-tech facility, complete with blind computer hacker/geneticist, Sommerfield (Natasha Lyonne), and a weapons tech, Hedges (Patton Oswalt) that gives Blade the obligatory rundown of all the new, cool toys he'll use later against the vampires. Blade, though, is a loner, but he eventually relents and accepts the Nightstalkers' help (he really doesn't have a choice, what with the FBI hot on his trail for killing a familiar, a human who works with the vampires, early in the film).
With all the characters introduced and the conflicts set up, all that's left is a series of bone-crunching fights, vampires combusting into ash, a few setbacks for our intrepid heroes, and the final battle pitting the "trinity" of the title (Blade, Hannibal, and Abigail) against Danica, Drake, and Danica's disposable minions, including the hypertrophied Jarko Grimwood (Paul Levesque/Triple H) with a dog fixation. Did I mention the vampire dogs? Blade: Trinity has three of them, but they're barely on screen and when they are, they're used as the punchline for a joke that references the Reapers from Blade II. What's left, then? Actually not much (or much more), at least not anything positive about Blade: Trinity. Let the trashing (or is thrashing?) continue.
How about a toothless, anemic (sorry, couldn't resist) Dracula? Sure, Goyer's Dracula doesn't wear a black cape or have gray streaks in his hair (a plus in my book), but that's not saying much (actually much, much worse). Here, Dracula's just another muscle-bound, narcissistic vampire, prone to prancing around in tight leather pants and an open white shirt (the better to show off his exercise regimen and his hairless chest). Ok, so this Lord of Vampires is a shape changer, but Goyer does little with the idea, except for a poorly motivated punchline.
What about the new characters, Hannibal King and Abigail Whistler? Hannibal's in the film purely for comic relief, which isn't objectionable on its own, but he should be funny, at least once in a while. Goyer alas is no Joss Whedon. His attempts at verbal comedy wear thin after the second joke (but it goes on and on and on). Abigail is good with a bow and a neat weapon that creates a UV arc (the better to dispatch vampires), but she has little to do or add. Frankly, Blade the taciturn loner out to save the world has grown tiresome and without a fresh, original storyline or a decent villain, the same can be said for the series.Those of us who have lost interest in revisiting the "Blade" universe have more awfulness to look forward to: Spike TV has commissioned thirteen episodes of an all-new Blade television series, with David S. Goyer serving in a creative capacity (presumably writer/producer). That's one horror/fantasy/action show this particular reviewer will make every effort to miss. Unless, of course, boredom just happens to set in on the particular night the series premieres on television.
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originally posted: 03/28/06 03:49:36