To be fair, the Blade movies aren't
vampire movies so much as action movies with vampires as
the villains. A subtle difference, perhaps, but one that
worked well enough for two films. With this installment,
screenwriter David S. Goyer steps into the director's chair,
and as a director, he's a heck of a writer.
film opens on vampire commandos (you know they're bad guys
because they flip the bird instead of giving thumbs up)
breaking into a tomb in Iraq. A timely statement on evil,
until you realize that yes, historically this was the cradle
of civilization no matter what we want to believe. Dracula
(Dominic Purcell) has gone to ground here, slipping into
an uneasy rest out of a barely explained disgust for the
path of civilization. Barely three minutes into the film,
and Goyer the writer tries to inject some pretty complex
characterization that Goyer the director keeps trying to
There's nothing in that opener that wasn't
already seen in Exorcist: The Beginning, except that
the cheap tomb set looks unbelievably cheap. Sure, vampires
can throw rocks around like they were Styrofoam, but we
shouldn't think they're Styrofoam.
Thankfully, Goyer cuts to safer ground
by having Blade (Wesley Snipes) blow up a vampire enclave
and get the real plot rolling. Except it's just another
fake-out. The vampire elite set him up to kill a familiar,
one of the human servants of the undead, in a very public
setting. You'd think this would set up great tension as
Blade is now considered a murderer by the general public.
For a few minutes, hopes are high. Talk
shows devote whole episodes to him, and the FBI apparently
assembles a task force dedicated to his capture. Do not
question how they know his name is Blade, nor conversely
why he should be upset that he was captured on video if
the FBI has had him on their Most Wanted list as a serial
killer for quite some time. None of these things will matter
once Goyer gets to the meat of the story.
Except he can't decide what that meat is.
Dracula, now calling himself Drake for no other reason than
as a reference to the Marvel comic book, supposedly resents
his vampire descendants. In one curiously unmoving chase
scene, he laments to Blade that they have no honor. But
still he takes orders from Danica Talos (Parker Posey),
who at least plays supernatural bitch very well. The story
also has to set up a new franchise, but barely makes a nod
As the poster makes clear, the loner Blade
has to team up with some young punk vampire hunters calling
themselves the Nightstalkers. (Technically no more ridiculous
a plot point than Blade calling himself Blade.) His original
mentor, Whistler (Kris Kristofferson), dies again, forcing
this new alliance. Who exactly the Nightstalkers are never
gets fully defined, since most exist to say a few lines
and then get slaughtered, but our sympathies must lie with
two, Abigail Whistler (Jessica Biel) and King.
at least, comes out of the original Marv Wolfman/Gene Colan
comic book Tomb of Dracula that also spawned Blade.
So it's a bit jarring when King repeats his warning about
Dracula not being the Dracula of movies and comic books,
and throws down a copy of the Marvel comic. It's an in-joke
just poorly staged, as desperate as King's patter. Now,
if Blade and King suddenly realized they were comic book
characters, THAT would have been interesting.
As in the previous films, a lot of character
bits exist just for their coolness potential. The younger
Whistler, for instance, programs her iPod to provide a soundtrack
for her slaying. Who needs to use their ears during a fight
anyway? It's not like those sneaky vampires always scream
as they run at you. Oh, wait, yes it is.
In the hands of somebody like Guillermo
Del Toro, who did Blade 2, we would have been distracted
enough to not let this kind of point be bothersome. Here,
it just seems stupid.
young Whistler also proves another surefire bad sequel touch
- the heretofore unmentioned character that had to retroactively
exist the whole time. Kristofferson's character was motivated
to fight vampires because one had slaughtered his entire
family. Poor Biel has to dismissively explain her own existence
as "I was born out of wedlock." At least she gets to make
up for it with perhaps the most gratuitous and frustratingly
shot shower scene of the year.
because it still ticks me off, let me also mention a third
really bad audience trust violation: a character performing
an action in order to fool the audience, not any other character.
This Dracula is a shape-changer ("not like a wolf or bat,"
says a wasted Patton Oswalt, "but other people, probably"),
and uses that ability to abuse the viewers.
Even a twist ending betrays us, because
while trying to give us a really arty cool-looking climax,
Goyer accidentally shows us that the ending he uses can't
And still those maddening touches of a
good writer show through. During the third act, Goyer puts
Hannibal King through the wringer with the possibility of
a great conflict. But instead of something that would require
the capable Reynolds of adding depth, director Goyer settles
for a knock-down drag-out fight with a strangely fey Triple
Thank heavens for Reynolds, by the way.
His smart-ass remarks start out as pretty gratuitous, but
by the end, his characterization works. What has stopped
working is Snipes' withdrawn snarling as the vampire/human
hybrid. He reduces his performance to a lot of posing, which
wears out its welcome within the first ten minutes. (Rumor
has it he was very unhappy during the filming, which of
course has been denied by the studio. Guess what? It looks
like the rumor is true.)
Supporting Snipes, however, is a cast he
would have deserved ten years ago, back when he actually
wanted to be in this series. Goyer has filled it with some
great indie actors, not the least of which is Posey. Even
performance artist Eric Bogosian shows up in what can only
be the death-knell of his integrity. Wasted, all of them.
I wanted to like Goyer's shot at directing
his script. (This is his second film, actually, and I have
not seen his debut.) I still have hopes that Christopher
Nolan will be able to connect all Goyer's cool ideas together
for Batman Begins. But after Blade: Trinity,
there's not even the energy to make a bad joke about staking
Just stick a fork in it. It's done.