A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 490 – Blade: Trinity

Blade Trinity – July 3rd, 2011

I admit this is sort of a cheat for me. I had it marked as a movie I’ve seen in our big list, but I never paid close attention to it. I’d seen it on television and left it running while I did other stuff, so I counted it but really, I’m not what you’d call familiar with it. There are some scenes I know a lot better than others because I’ve flipped through them on other occasions, and some that feel brand new, which leads to a somewhat patchy viewing experience. Watching the movie feels familiar in places and then hey, when did that happen? I didn’t recall that being in this movie! Not that the movie had any real surprises for me, just scenes I must have been out of the room for. It’s not really a terribly innovative movie, all told, but then its main baddie is Dracula, so what do you want?

What this movie does that the previous ones didn’t is introduce a team for Blade. In the past he had Whistler, and when Whistler was MIA he had Scud, but one toymaker is not a team, and Whistler and Scud certainly weren’t out on the streets wasting vampires along with Blade. In this movie we get not only Abigail Whistler and Hannibal King, who get cover space because they’re ostensibly two more stars of the film, but we get the rest of their little crew. They call themselves the Nightstalkers and they’ve got a weapon designer, a biologist, a mechanic and two hunters, plus a bunch of sleeper cells around who also hunt vampires. Blade is understandably skeptical of their efforts, what with the name they’ve picked and all. I mean, if I walked in and heard these folks calling themselves the Nightstalkers I’d crack up.

But the group is pretty good, their doofy name aside. They’ve got a plan that involves a virus that will wipe out all the vampires within a certain radius, and they need some pure vampire blood to make it work. Blade, on the other hand, needs some support. Thanks to some escalated action on Blade’s part he’s gotten a reputation as a vigilante killer who’s wanted by the police. And since the vampires have their fingers in everything – as established by the earlier movies – Blade finds Whistler dead and himself in police custody. The new team rescues him and brings him back to their headquarters, lay their basic backstories and explain that our sub-baddie, Danica Talos, has found Dracula in hopes of creating some sort of new super vampire but they have their virus-in-progress. And then the rest of the movie is pretty much asses getting kicked by various people on both sides.

Somehow I suspect that Ryan Reynolds takes roles where he gets to be Ryan Reynolds. Now, I happen to find much of what I’ve seen of him amusing. I mean, he was born to play Deadpool (if only the movie he’d been in hadn’t done such a piss poor job with him) and I really quite enjoyed him as Hal Jordan. But let’s face it: He takes roles where he cracks wise and gets to be a bad/wise-ass. I’m cool with it and all, but really. He needs to go back to Deadpool and find a good writer, because here as Hannibal King? His lines were too desperate. Really, that’s how a lot of the script of this movie feels. Like the writers wanted to make it for The Kids and missed the mark. And I really do like the concept of Hannibal. An ex-vampire hunting down the folks he used to run with, resenting all the horrible things they made him do by turning him? Yeah, that works. And Reynolds does a decent job and I like how he takes a character who could be all serious business and angst and turns him into the source of a lot of the movie’s humor. But whenever he makes five jokes he should probably only have made four.

Then too, I’m not really opposed to Blade losing Whistler and gaining a new assistant in his place. It highlights the issue that Blade is part vampire and that Whistler is only human, and an aging human at that. And I like Jessica Biel as Abigail Whistler. It’s a nice bit of familial continuity and Jessica Biel is well capable of being a bad-ass. And I have a weakness for archery. The trouble is that with Abigail and Hannibal at Blade’s sides – or slightly behind him – it gives the movie three major protagonists (hence the Trinity bit of the title) and with three major protagonists comes three stories and three climaxes and three big fights at the end. The movie lacks focus.

The other problem here for me is the sub-baddie, Danica. On top of the lack of focus caused by running three climaxes at once, there are several baddies to deal with. There’s Danica, who seems to be the current leader of this branch of vampires. There’s her brother, Asher. There’s their ‘muscle’ and there’s Dracula himself. None of them are terribly well-developed as villains. Danica gets a fair bit of time, but she chews so much scenery she’s almost a caricature. Then there’s the muscle, whose name gets mentioned precisely once and who ends up being the climactic fight for Hannibal even though you’d think with Hannibal’s history he should be facing off with Danica for his major fight at the end. Asher gets practically no time whatsoever even though he’s supposed to be second in command or whatever. And because the movie spends time on all of those folks? Dracula gets almost no screen time to prove that he’s a force to be reckoned with. He kills a couple of goth kids who run a vampire memorabilia store, then menaces the minor Nightstalkers without getting any real lines or much time on screen. So when he has his climactic fight with Blade? He might as well be a monster, not a character, which makes his last lines rather weak.

With all this criticism it probably sounds like I hate this movie and I don’t. I really don’t. It’s fun and the fight scenes are well choreographed. If you enjoy hearing Ryan Reynolds crack wise and seeing Jessica Biel kick ass and watching Wesley Snipes as Blade? Then this movie will provide all those things along with some decent new ideas for the world the movie exists in. It’s just that it’s overstuffed. The writers and producers and director had too many ideas and tried to shove them into a single movie and all of those ideas are fun, but all together they’re sloppy. And I don’t think it’s just my initial viewing experience talking. I’ll gladly stop on this if I’m flipping channels, but I’m not going to try and claim it has no flaws.

July 3, 2011 Posted by | daily reviews | , , , | Leave a comment

Blade Trinity

July 3, 2011

Blade Trinity

I haven’t seen this movie all the way through. I don’t recall exactly why. I bought it years ago and started to watch it at one point, probably some evening when I had the night off, but I only got about a half hour in. As we started watching tonight I was somewhat concerned that after the last two nights I would be somewhat Bladed out. Although I enjoyed Blade II with its cool look and slick action the actual plot and characters felt tired to me (maybe because the same plot was done better with Underworld.) So my vague memories of not having been able to finish watching this movie with my Blade fatigue gave me pretty low expectations. As a result I was actually pretty surprised by how much I enjoyed this movie.

What’s odd about this movie is the way it attempts to blend irreverent humor and serious dark happenings in the Blade universe. The plot starts out fairly grim. The vampires, unable to defeat Blade on their own, have started a public relations effort to discredit him. They set him up to be captured on film staking a human familiar so they can characterize him as a delusional psychopathic killer and enlist the help of the FBI in capturing him. Very shortly they do go after Blade, with the help of a vast SWAT team. Whistler bravely goes about erasing all the incriminating evidence on every computer in the lair (which for some reason makes the computers explode) and ultimately blows up the entire warehouse, giving his life in the process, in an attempt to give Blade time to escape. Blade does not escape, though. Faced with the death (again) of his partner, mentor and father figure Blade is paralyzed with rage and is quickly surrounded and captured.

Of course it turns out that some of the police holding Blade in captivity are vampire familiars (including an unnecessary criminal psychologist who I think is supposed to be a reference to the psychiatrist in Miller’s Dark Knight Returns.) Several vampires turn up in the interrogation room with the intent of dragging Blade off to their base for no purpose that is made clear. (To torture him? To dissect him? It doesn’t really matter I suppose.) At the last minute Blade is rescued by Whistler’s vampire-hunter daughter Abigail and her wisecracking pal Hannibal King. Here the dark tone of the movie starts to clash with its more upbeat and comic-bookish underpinnings.

What’s strange is that the movie is so self-aware about its uneven tone. Most of the levity comes in the form of Ryan Reynolds – comic book movie superstar – as King. He and Abby belong to a kind of amateur vampire hunter club that call themselves the “Nightstalkers.” If that sounds like something out of a comic book that’s because it is. King makes many cracks about how juvenile he knows his group must sound to the legendary vampire hunter Blade, but that doesn’t stop him from giving goofy names to their ammunition and team mates. Indeed King, as with many of the characters played by Reynolds, seems incapable of taking anything seriously. This is a strange contrast in this particular movie which is generally gritty and dark, and even clashes with the details of his own past – him having once been a vampire himself before being cured. On the other hand I have to admit that as much as he doesn’t fit into the movie King is my favorite part of it. Without him it would be unceasingly downbeat what with Whistler’s death, Blade’s capture, the return of Dracula (who like Blade can tolerate sunlight) and the eventual invasion by Dracula of the Nightstalker base of operations. I don’t think that I would have wanted to watch this movie without King in it.

As Abigail we have the very capable Jessica Beil, who we have more recently watched in The Illusionist. She kicks all kinds of vampire ass from the very start of the movie using her recombinant bow and “UV Arc” lightsaber. Speaking of which, I have to say that the Nightstalkers do have all the coolest toys. Their armaments may have goofy names (thanks to King) but that doesn’t stop them from being cool as all get out. I can see why the producers of this movie thought they might be able to create a spin-off franchise from the Nightstalkers.

In general I have to say that I really enjoyed this movie. it doesn’t have the visual flare of the second movie. it doesn’t have the same level of fantastic fight choreography and hip direction as the first movie. But it has its own style, and it has an awful lot of Ryan Reynolds. That pretty much works for me. It’s a shallow, simple, popcorn action flick – which is just fine and was more than I was expecting when I put it in.

July 3, 2011 Posted by | daily reviews | , , , | Leave a comment