A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Blade II

July 2, 2011

Blade II

I have an amusing story that goes with this movie. Amanda and I had enjoyed the first one on DVD so much that we decided to see the second one in the theaters. When we went into the theater though the movie was already playing. We checked our tickets to be sure we were in the right cinema and checked our watches. We weren’t late – as usual we were a few minutes early. Then the movie ended. I’ve never been sure why exactly, but for some reason the movie was running late, so we ended up seeing the end of the movie and closing credits before watching the start. It was very strange.

We stuck around after that though and got to see the movie from the start, and I have to say I really enjoyed it. On subsequent viewings it isn’t quite as cool as it was that first time in the theater, but at the time I thought it was one of the coolest pure stupid action films I had seen in a long time. It wasn’t so much the plot or acting, which are not particularly exceptional, but the visual flate the movie has that impressed me. At the time I didn’t know it, but what I was really falling in love with was the directorial style of Guillermo del Torro. I didn’t really know who he was when I went to see this movie, and wouldn’t start really paying attention to his work until I went to see Hellboy in the theaters a couple years later, but he has a vision which brought this particular pedestrian action movie and raised it up to be something which at the time I found surprising and enjoyable.

The story being told here is not a particularly convoluted one, and has somewhat of a written by committee feel to it at times. It starts out with Blade searching for Whistler, who has been taken captive by vampires after the events of the last film which left him half-turned. When he shot himself he already was vampire enough that it didn’t kill him, and the vampires have been keeping him alive ever since. After a flashy motorcycle fight scene Blade is able to discover Whistler’s whereabouts and promptly bursts into the warehouse in question and slaughters all the guards, but doesn’t have the heart to simply kill his old partner. So he hauls Whistler back to his lair and shoots a heavy duty cure into him and then hey-presto Whistler is entirely human again the next morning and the movie can get started. It’s clumsy and full of plot holes. As much as I enjoy having the team of Blade and Whistler back together again it’s a dreadfully awkward way to get it done.

With all that out of the way the actual plot of the movie can start to unfold. A pair of black clad vampires break into Blade’s workshop and after a little acrobatics announce that they’re come to offer Blade a truce. It seems that there’s a new monster in town, and it has the vampires running scared. These creatures, called Reapers, hunt vampires the way that vampires hunt humans and turn them into new Reapers. They have an insatiable appetite and their numbers are increasing exponentially and if left unchecked will very quickly wipe out all vampires (and probably all humans as well.) So Blade, along with Whistler and Blade’s new boy-wonder sidekick Skud troop off to the local vampire headquarters to meet the elite team of hunters they will be working with. The hitch? These hunters have been training for six years to hunt Blade – they don’t take too well to being forced to work with him to take on the Reapers.

From there on out it’s pretty much pure stupid action. The Reapers are not vulnerable to silver or garlic and regenerate even faster than vampires do, which makes them tough to kill. Pretty much the only thing that works is sunlight. Meanwhile Blade and the vampire squad all have cool new weapons including pistols with blades attached and UV flash grenades. They duke it out in a vampire nightclub, then in the abandoned building above it, and in the sewers below it. They eventually even end up fighting in the heavily fortified vampire home base (after the vampires’ sudden but inevitable betrayal.)

As I watched the movie again I realized that just about everything I liked about it and found cool the first time I saw it came from del Torro and his cohort Mike Mignola (the creator of Hellboy who worked on the art department for this movie.) Obviously I have no idea which members of the vast design department were responsible for which details of the movie, but the movie is filled with little details that feel ripped from the minds of del Troo and Mignola. The bladed pistols for example. The vampires in the club being flayed for fun. The glove with the syringes at the start of the movie. Even the exceptionally cool look of the Reapers with their bifurcated lower jaw.

I like the look of this movie better than I like the movie itself I guess. It’s full of awesome special effects shots that I have to assume use digital doubles which allow the camera to swoop impossibly around blade as he leaps and flips about. It’s got an aesthetic to it which I would characterize as uniquely del Torro look. In many ways it feels to me now as though it’s a dry run for Hellboy. It even has Ron Pearlman as one of the vampire cadre. It’s not as awesomely cool as Hellboy is though. When I first saw this it had a look that was cool and new and intrigued me, now that I know how much more del Torro is capable of though It seems like more of a stepping stone and not so much like the awesome action film I thought it was that first time. It makes me want to watch Pan’s Labyrinth.

July 2, 2011 - Posted by | daily reviews | , , ,

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