A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 489 – Blade II

Blade II – July 2nd, 2011

In his review Andy will be talking about how we first saw this movie. Suffice it to say we saw the ending twice, which wasn’t really as much of a spoiler as you might think. I mean, you know a particular character dies, but it’s sort of like reading the very last page of a mystery novel. You might get something, but the context is missing and therefore it means almost nothing. And besides, the end of the movie wasn’t what I was looking forward to when we first saw it. After the opening of the first movie I was hoping for something spectacular in the second. Alas. It’s just never going to be as good.

This movie opens with a good introduction for our villain, but it’s just not the same sort of visceral intro to the whole movie. Sure, we pick up on the whole vampires-run-blood-banks concept and then meet a grotesque new breed of bloodsucker who can open his jaw from the center and use tongue tentacles to subdue his victims, but it just doesn’t grab me. There’s less of a sense of “this is going to be bloody fun” here and more of a sense of “this is going to be bloody.” And it will be! There’s plenty of blood in this movie, thank goodness, but it’s not shooting out of sprinklers or anything. And some of it’s green, which confuses the heck out of me (there’s a bit in the trivia about the new vampire breed having green blood but theirs is clear and the vampire lord at the end has green) but I’ll run with it. After all, the movie is also giving me more of Blade being a tidy bad-ass and another kick ass female lead.

The movie begins with Blade retrieving Whistler from a vampire safehouse. He’s half-turned and being stored in a vat of blood, which seems really unpleasant but hey, I’m not a vampire. It’s been two years, according to Blade and he has a new assistant: Scud, who’s a young man who likes loud music, cartoons and tinkering with mechanical things. Soon after he and Whistler butt heads a team of vampires breaches Blade’s security and shows up to deliver a message asking for Blade’s help. Seems the new baddie we saw at the beginning is feeding on vampires and turning them into feral versions of himself and they’re extending a truce offer to Blade so he’ll help them take out this new threat. And to help with this task they offer him the strike team that’s been training to take him down. Obviously this is an uneasy sort of group.

I do like the dynamics here. Blade is obviously our hero and he doesn’t like vampires. But then he gets a whole team of vampires to work with and they’re not the bad guys we’re worried about but they’re clearly not the good guys either. Still, a few of them seem to have some honor to them, which makes the vampires as a whole group deeper and more interesting to me. It was true of the first movie too – not all of them were interested in hunting down Blade or expending their resources on things like blood rituals – but this movie gives us a whole cast of vampires to meet. Not all of them are that interesting and they fill somewhat expected roles. There’s the Asian vampire who’s a kickass martial artist and there’s a petite punk pixie vampire with bright red hair who hangs off of her big strong tattooed boyfriend and there’s another tank and one of them is Irish and eh, it’s not that I’m so much invested in their individual characters as that I like that we’re shown a variety here (and when the tattooed boyfriend gets turned into the new type of baddie the punk pixie sacrifices herself to take him out – well played there).

Out of the whole crew there are two real standouts: Reinhardt and Nyssa. Reinhardt is played by Ron Perlman and okay, I love Ron Perlman so that’s a huge plus. But he also plays a good foil for Blade. Because no, this team is not going to be best buds with the man they’ve been planning on hunting down, even if they do have to work with him. Reinhardt sneers and snarls and is generally so not on board with this whole working-with-Blade idea but Blade sticks a bomb on the back of his head early on, so he kind of has no choice in the matter. Nyssa, on the other hand, is the daughter of the vampire lord who’s looking for Blade’s help. She’s got a nobility to her and I really quite like Leonor Varela’s performance of her. She’s smart, she’s fast, she’s skilled with weapons and she’s got a sense of honor and a code of ethics that put her people first and foremost in her priorities. And if working with Blade means she’s going to be able to stop a threat to her people then so be it. And she’s able to respect him and gain his respect in turn.

Again, this movie doesn’t really set up a romance. There’s a little something between Nyssa and Blade, but I’ve always seen it more as camaraderie than romance. Because again, Blade isn’t looking for a relationship and again, the female lead in the movie has better things to do than sit around and pine for a man who’s thoroughly unavailable. Where last night we had Action Hematology, tonight we just have plain old action. And it’s good action. Sure, some of the larger fight scenes suffer from the typical issue of there being a mob and they attack the hero one by one instead of, you know, ganging up on him. But at the same time the real baddies, the Reapers, mob everyone. So I’ll give the movie a bit of a pass on that. Maybe regular vampires have a thing about fights. Anyhow, the team heads down to track the Reapers, end up getting overwhelmed and then surprise! It was all a plot by the vampire lord in the first place!

Now, here is my only real issue with the movie. There are two traitors in among the people Blade works with throughout the movie. One of them? Fine, no problem. He doesn’t get much in terms of screen time away from Blade or Whistler so he’s clearly always acting. The other? Well, much as I like him, I don’t know if he was written convincingly as a traitor. He gets a good deal of screen time away from Blade and with other people and his interactions with them just don’t work for me. I can’t put my finger on it. There’s no one specific line that stands out to me. It’s just that when you find out that he’s been leading Blade on the whole time? It seems like there are things that should have been written differently. Like you should be able to look back at everything he did and said and see how it was leading to where the vampire lord wanted it to lead. And it doesn’t. Oh well. That’s really my only complaint here. It doesn’t start on as high a note as the first movie but it’s still fun and it’s still got some good characters and a strong female lead and lots of blood and a few more twists than the first one and a well developed villain concept. Not to mention a call-forward to Hellboy. So that’s a cool bonus too.

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

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