I love the first two Blade movies with a passion. The first one is a fast paced, sharp, big time action/horror flick, and the second one dials everything the first one had to offer up to the fabled Spinal Tap eleven. Wesley Snipes, who normally couldn’t act his way out of a blood soaked paper bag, is absolutely amazing as the title character. He inhabits Blade in that same way magical way that Hugh Jackman does Wolverine, or more recently the way Ron Perlman became Hellboy. Snipes has made Blade, a mediocre bit character from a few poorly read Marvel comics, into an iconic cinematic figure, with a little help from great directors like Guillermo Del Toro and a talented writer in David Goyer. Goyer in fact, wrote all three Blade movies and with the success of the first two somehow got it into New Line’s collective head that he could also direct. He can’t.
Blade: Trinity has Wesley Snipes returning to the one thing he’s ever really been good at, playing Blade, only to be teamed up with a pair of snot nosed brats. Ok, to be fair, Ryan Reynolds and Jessica Biel are actually quite good, Ryan’s character of Hannibal King being the most memorable of the two. Biel plays Whistler’s daughter, no not the one that was killed off by a sadistic vampire, another one that we conveniently didn’t know about. It seems that Whistler (Kris Kristofferson) has been busy in the singles scene when Blade’s not around. Hannibal King is an ex-vampire who took the serum that fixed Whistler up in Blade II and now uses his time and energy to hunt the bastards who made him a vamp in the first place. They’re Whistler’s backup plan, and they insinuate themselves and their vampire hunting team into Blade’s life when Blade ends up alone and being hunted by the police.
The local head vampire bitch Danica (Parker Posey), has Blade on tape murdering a human (one of her familiars), and happily hands over the tape to the police who begin scouring the city for our blood sucker slaughtering hero. Posey is great as a pissy little vampire wench, but she’s not the real boss of the operation. The film opens with a rather lame tomb sequence in which Posey and her fairly faceless group of cronies (which yes, includes the rather pointless wrestling star HHH) resurrect Dracula, the original vampire. Don’t get all spoiler retentive, it’s all over the trailers and if you can’t figure it out from that I can't help you.
The problem with Goyer’s script is that it falls back on the tired old cliché of easy solution super weapons. For the vampires, Dracula is supposed to be their “final solution”, for the Bladeketeers there is a super virus, which with the addition of a Dracula blood sample will wipe out all the vampires in the vicinity with a big poof of plot resolving smoke. I’m tired of that type of copout and would have preferred to see Blade forced to slaughter all his foes one by one, rather than just holding them off until Goyer could come up with an easy way to solve all his problems with a wave of his hand. There’s also really no need for Blade’s companions, capable though both Reynolds and Biel may be. Blade has always been best as a lone and physically imposing figure stalking city streets, like the ultimate bringer of vampire death. Blade doesn’t need backup, and in Blade II when he had it, he was happy to feed his backup to the bad guys, whenever it suited him. Now he’s saddled with the makings of a full on family, one that really doesn’t do him any credit. Hannibal King is a funny and charismatic character, and Whistler II pulls off a few great action bits, but I’d rather have had their screen time replaced with more of Snipes who is still absolutely top of his game when it comes to being Blade.
With the addition of more hero characters, the character of Blade himself has lost a lot of the depth he had originally. He’s become more of a vampire killing automaton that the other more talkative characters follow around. Goyer’s direction is almost reflective of that, as a lot of the film’s big action sequences seem almost perfunctory. Vampires dissolve into flame with an almost careless abandon, none of them really presenting any sort of interesting challenge for the Daywalker until he works his way up to the head honcho. Somehow, Blade has become Dracula’s equal, and by comparison now all the other vampires are about on par with any gun toting human when it comes to threat assessment. We’re supposed to be impressed when Dracula leaps off a building and Blade follows, as if this is a power unique to the original vampire. Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t all vampires used to be able to do stuff like that? In this movie the vampires have become incredibly weak and so killing them just isn’t as much fun.
While Goyer’s big action money shots are a bit bland, his choices aren’t all bad. I really liked the way he contrasts his day shots with night, by overexposing daylight to make it incredibly sharp and bright. He also does some interesting things with the way he shoots his vampires; sometimes flipping in and out of a jerky, almost hyper real way of filming that makes the world around them seem inhuman. He throws in a nice chase scene too, which has Blade pursuing the pointy toothed baddies down the highway in an overpowered muscle car. When he comes up on a vampire riding a motorcycle, Blade doesn’t shoot him, he hits the nitro’s and drives right over him. The soundtrack also adds a lot to what does work in Trinity’s action sequences, filled with hard almost guttural growling sounds and fast pace techno/rap and bass beats. That sort of soundtrack can be a flop in the wrong circumstances, but used properly it leaves you ready to leave the theater and beat the crap out of some hapless theater popcorn pusher just for kicks.
Blade: Trinity is not a disastrous entry into the vampire hunter franchise, but it fails to live up to the slick excitement of its predecessors. With great performances from Snipes, Posey, Reynolds, and Biel, all the blame for that has to be laid squarely on the shoulders of the man of many hats, David Goyer. Goyer was in large part responsible for making Blade what it is, but that clearly didn’t qualify him to direct. With Snipes becoming such a problem to work with on set, it’s likely that this will be the last outing for Blade, unless New Line goes ahead with their proposed Bladeless spin-off featuring the Hannibal King and Whistler Jr. characters. Goyer tries his best with Blade: Trinity but ends up with an entry that is far too often flat and uninspired. It’s a shame Blade’s ride had to end in mediocrity.