Alternate Title: Bladest
The last two reviews have gone over fairly well so I was excited to complete the full set with the (to date?) final installment of the Blade saga. I was also a little rushed to get it out, since my termination date for my other job is in three days, which means I will lose my only laptop with a DVD player and Photoshop. But no worries, cause as you will see, this movie left me with plenty of things to say.
The movie opens with black helicopters circling like wasps through a bleached landscape to land outside a ziggurat in the Syrian desert. A group of people in seriously thick gear and two layers of masks climb out. They’re dark and mysterious, but the ominous effect is ruined as they approach the building and, with a swell of the music, one turns around to flip off the sun.
Gee. I wonder if they’re vampires.
Awkwardness aside, the rest of this scene immediately calls to mind World of Darkness origin-mythology about Enoch and the Second City, a topic I am both absolutely fascinated by and know next to nothing about. To me, the vague wisps of the story I’ve been able to collect represent a melding of magic and myth, an epic of power and control set against a historical backdrop that in real-life is just as alien to modern human experiences as the fantasy worlds we play in. Clearly this movie isn’t World of Darkness, but as I watched this I was initially hopeful that it would set out a similar tale of historical context, calling upon an era when monsters walked openly among humans and ruled as gods.
I mean…I wasn’t wrong, but…be careful what you wish for I guess.
Anyway, these dudes break into the temple and find a secret passage into its depths. They strip off their masks, revealing fanged faces, but they’re able to maintain a professional focus on whatever their mission is. It’s probably too much to hope that we’d get more Assamite-analogs, but I do like tha—OH SHIT, is that Parker Posey??
Parker Posey explains to her team that they are in Sumeria because it’s the cradle of civilization, since apparently they didn’t think to discuss the mission on their entire helicopter flight out to the middle of the fucking desert. She also says that “he” would have been comfortable here.
At that moment, I turned to Jim, mouth open. “Motherfucker, are they looking for Caine?”
Their sensors pick up a chamber beneath them, and while investigating it an arm erupts from the sand, pulling a vampire in and decapitating him. The lights start flickering—because of course they fucking do—and we get glimpses of an armored, near-skeletal monstrosity clawing its way from the sand under a chorus of screams and gunfire before everything cuts to black.
Man, I kinda hope it not Caine, I thought to myself, cause that whole, “injustice reflected upon you seven-fold” thing means they’re gonna have Jehovah’s Witnesses and other bullshit unannounced visitors showing up at their house every damn day of the week.
The meat of the movie opens on a warehouse. Which suddenly explodes. Dudes run out, on fire but not quite dead, till something shoots them in the back and they dissolve, revealing the hero of the hour behind them, slow-mo walking from the flames with his coat billowing around him in one of the best reveals in the whole damn series.
The bad guys load into various beater cars and motorcycles, Blade gives chase with the help of Kris Kristofferson driving a big rig. They gradually take out the thugs one by one with a serious of clever attacks and weapons, leaving them as literal dust on the road. The whole scene culminates with a thug crashing his car in front of a few dozen witnesses, but Blade climbs out of his car, openly bearing sawn-offs with no fucks given, and shoots the thug with a stake through the back. Unlike his buddies, though, this thug doesn’t dissolve, because lol! He’s human! Apparently the whole thing was a setup by Parker Posey, cause I guess she survived Ur-Vampire Death-Temple? Anyway, Blade stares at the dying mortal body as helicopters circle overhead and it starts to sink in that his masquerade violations have finally come home to roost. Then Blade—an armed black man—tries to run.
Fortunately, though, cops in this world suck at their jobs and Blade gets away, returning to a hideout in dockside warehouse. Kris Kristofferson is there and lectures Blade more on his masquerade violations, but Blade turns sullen and shrugs the whole thing off. Kris Kristofferson changes the subject, offering Blade a new inhaler for his anti-bloodlust medicine, which I honestly keep forgetting is a thing. While doing it, he mentions offhand that some “friends” of his made it. If I was Blade, I’d be a little concerned that suddenly people I had never met had access to my medical information, but he storms off to sulk in his room.
We next cut to FBI headquarters, where I notice something interesting. Although footage of Blade’s attack is fresh on the news, the FBI agents already have wanted posters for him on the walls. This indicates quite clearly that they’ve been after Blade for awhile, which I think is fascinating, and further illustrates his hubris, that this isn’t the first time he’s fucked up.
Back to Parker Posey. Apparently not only did she and her men survive whatever that thing was back in Sumeria, but
they captured him he let himself be brought in and has been spending his time in locked up in their hideout, in the dark, feeding. This is creepy, but not nearly as frightening as the fact that her headquarters looks like a late-90s mall, which makes sense cause her henchmen all look like they work at The Limited.
The henchmen bicker while watching a thermal scan of their captive feeding on another humanoid—which I guess negates the previous movie’s point that their body temperature is room—then Posey petulantly declares she’s going in to see him. Bravado evaporating the moment she crosses the threshold, she creeps down a stairwell to find piles of exsanguinated bodies and a monstrous thing lurking in the shadows, spiked and horned and with the same vagina-face as the ubervampires.
Emphasizing the Vicissitude point, the creature shifts to take on a human-form and asks why he was awoken. Posey starts talking about his people and the blood of the sacrament, blah blah blah, and the more she talks the more I drooped because I realized oh shit, this is supposed to be Caine, functionally at least.
And he looks like a frat-bro who got a “Lord of the Night” costume from Spirit Halloween Store.
He scoffs at Posey, says his “people” are but shadows of their former selves, and he’s not wrong. Posey then goes to prove his point by whining about Blade hunting them down and how they need his help. Really, bitch? You summoned mother-fucking Caine to kill one fucking guy??? If I was him, I’d slice her to ribbons with her own damn stiletto heels. But sadly this isn’t Caine, this is Frat-boy Caine, and he apparently decides to humor her for now.
Back up top, the hunt for Blade is heating up and even gone mainstream, as newspapers print his face and “experts” discuss him on evening talk shows. Kris Kristofferson continues to lecture Blade about it but Blade shows his vampire side by continuing to respond like a petulant teenager.
Next, out in the streets, we’re briefly reminded of the realities of living in a vampire world as a pack of teenage Lost Boys-style vampires start stalking a woman on a subway platform in a manner way more obnoxious than threatening. Fortunately, though, she rips off her bulky clothes to reveal weapons and a tactical outfit straight off the cover of an urban fantasy novel and literally smokes them away.
Interesting, I thought, so there’s more hunters than Blade in this world? Could these be the friends Kris Kristofferson was referring to? And if so, why the hell has Blade never met them even once in his entire lifetime of doing literally the same thing??
Back at dockside base, Blade and Kris Kristofferson are each meditating silently in their own ways when a full load of SWAT-geared FBI drop in on their ass.
Blade moves to escape, but Kris Kristofferson runs back to trigger self-destruct sequences on all their computers.
Why? The FBI already knows who you are, CLEARLY, so who the hell are you trying to protect? The vampires??? But Kristofferson is insistent upon it, fighting through hails of gunfire and even firing back on federal agents, to get the job done. Shit finally gets real, Kristofferson gets shot and pinned down, and eventually blows up the rest of the building with him still inside it.
Not long after, Blade also gets pinned down and, in clear grief and shock, surrenders.
Dragged to interrogation at a local police station, Special Agents Johnson and Johnson ask Blade about all the people he’s killed. Blade gives an exact number, which is probably supposed to sound contrite, but since he follows it up by claiming they were just ghouls, it comes off like a high-score count. The agents clearly don’t believe the vampire story, but before they can yell at him further, a psychiatrist by the name of Dr. Vance—previously seen on the evening chat-show—shows up to give Blade an eval. He sends the agents away then injects Blade with some sort of tranquilizer because surprise! He’s a ghoul too! And so is the chief of police! Parker Posey and Team Express for Men show up to pick Blade up, taking the time to really slather the exposition on the nose about how Blade is all alone and no one will save him now—
Until Deadpool kicks his way in through the one-way glass to save the day.
Now, when I refer to Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool here, it’s not just my usual level of meta-level snark. Supposedly, while filming this very movie, someone pointed out to Reynolds that the character of Hannibal King is basically Deadpool and gave him a stack of Deadpool comics to prove the point. And thus was launched a plot arc of Reynolds’s career that took twelve years to finally come to fruition. So as much as there may be things to hate about this movie—and there are—we do have to give it credit for initiating that path.
Anyway, fuckery breaks out, during which one of Posey’s henchmen flashes silver tipped fangs, and at first I thought, “Oshit, instant agg-damage, that’s a great idea!” Then a moment later, recalling the frequency with which I accidentally bite my own lip on a daily basis, I changed my mind, realizing it’s a terrible idea.
Deadpool and Blade break out of the holding room and start fighting their way through waves of guards—both civilian and vampire—but are helped when the hunter-woman from the subway platform shows up, now sporting leather armor and a quiver of arrows loaded with Hawkeye bullshit.
Deadpool, Blade, and Katniss Everdeen fight their way past vampire SWAT agents and an entire battalion of cops, eventually escaping in a getaway car, and now I know this movie isn’t taking place in LA cause for sure LA cops have experience chasing black men in Ford Broncos. Jaws, bless his heart, tries to follow the car with like one dot of Celerity but luckily Katniss pwns him with a headshot.
And though I’m gonna call her Katniss, it bears mentioning that during their escape, her real identity is revealed: Kris Kristofferson’s daughter.
Blade and his rescuers go back to a different secret base where they meet the rest of the hunter crew, which includes That Girl Everyone Thinks is Emma Stone and Patton Oswalt in his biggest role since one of the radiomen in Down Periscope. Deadpool identifies the group as the Nightstalkers and the look on his face says he knows how stupid it sounds but it’s in the script so he’s gonna say it anyway. Blade scoffs, says they’re just a bunch of kids, what the hell do they really know about the world or the darkness it’s made of? Deadpool, though, says he knows about it intimately, as he used to be a vampire and has the glyph to prove it.
Meanwhile, Parker Posey’s gang are loafing about their mall like it’s a GQ cover shoot—
—Bitching and slapping at each other with all the wit and insight of a middle school locker room. Seriously, this is an actual exchange of dialogue here:
“What’s wrong half-pint? You need a time out?”
“We got caught with our pants down”.
“Pants down? They pretty much fucking ass-raped us.”
“Oh you loved it.”
Seriously? Goddamn shovelhead Lasombra throw better shade than that. No, seriously, is this what we’re left with at the climax of the trilogy? Gone, apparently, are all traces of Damaskinos and his Assamite childer; in just a few short years, the height of vampire culture has regressed back to the level of goddamn-Deacon-goddamn-Frost. Frat-boy Caine shows up at the end of their meeting and for a moment I was hopeful he’s about to eat them all, but no, apparently he’s here to join their damn cover-shoot with an open-fronted shirt and ill-fitting suit.
Back at Team Nightrider, Deadpool goes over footage from Blade’s escape and identifies Parker Posey as Danica Talos—which is actually kinda a cool name—Jaws as Grimwood, and GQ-prime as Parker Posey’s brother, Asher, which beyond all reason is a name even douchier than Deacon. Also Deadpool apparently used to be Posey’s sex-gimp, which explains the placement of his tramp stamp. Katniss says that Posey’s douche-crew have apparently scraped enough braincells together to raise the primogenitor of the vampire race, who you and I know as Frat-boy Caine, but who everyone else would better know as Dracula.
From this, we cut to a scene of Frat-boy Caine walking around surveying the city IN THE MIDDLE OF THE GODDAMN DAY, staring around in a way that maybe is supposed to be pensive and mournful but in reality just looks like he’s looking for the craft-services table.
Remember how I commented on the dark mood and tone of the second movie? This scene is LITERALLY THE OPPOSITE OF THAT. Showing him wandering around in daylight isn’t impressive when all it does is shine a better light on how much of a tool he is. There’s no vampiric mystery or power to this guy. He looks like some asshole I’d see hanging around the head shop having an argument in Farsi with his mom over the phone.
The exact moment I realized, though, that this movie has no idea what the fuck it’s doing is when Frat-boy walks into an entire store themed with novelty vampire bullshit to drive home the point on how far his kind have fallen that they’ve become a cultural joke. First off, it’s unnecessary, cause last time we saw him he already agreed to help Posey’s posse—which leads me to wonder if maybe the order of these scenes got switched—but more importantly, it’s such a glaringly-obvious plot device its cringe-worthy, since I guarantee such a store has never existed. Pirate-themed stores in seaside tourist towns, sure, but even at the height of 90’s we kept all our vampire stuff in one place and that place was called Hot Topic.
I was relived, actually, that there’s no sign of World of Darkness art or covers anywhere in this embarrassment of a store, just as I was relieved when Frat-boy Caine finally nuts up into a proper vampire to eat the shopkeepers and storm off into the night.
Back at the hunter hideout, Not-Emma-Stone tells Blade that she’s been working on a bioweapon against the vampires, a virus targeted to their alien DNA, all while actually using words like “viral efficacy” and “selective mutations” correctly. Her virus has only been moderately effective so far, but she says if they can get Blade’s help in getting a sample of Frat-boy Caine’s blood, they can develop one that will hit all vampires equally. The name of the virus, appropriately enough, is Daystar.
Patton Oswalt’s role, I should probably note, is apparently the Q of the group—as in MI-6, not TNG—and as is traditional in Blade movies, he gets to show off a bunch of novel vampire-fighting weapons he designed.
All this tech seems like a lot of effort to stay ahead of creatures who, I will remind you, still cannot figure out how sunscreen works, but whatever, I guess it keeps the grant money flowing.
Deadpool, Katniss, and Blade head out to hunt down information on where to find Frat-boy Caine. We get an extended montage scene of various tussles, but somehow they don’t feel like vampire hunters, primarily because they’re hunting IN THE MIDDLE OF THE GODDAMN DAY so all they’re roughing up is ghouls. Finally they catch a guy who recently paged Dr. Vance and knows the location of his office.
They head to Dr. Vance’s office but Frat-boy Caine has been there first, killing Vance and mimicking him through more Vicissitude. The gang sees through the act—since there’s no way a man that fond of stainless-steel necklaces could be cleared by the medical board—Frat-boy Caine recognizes Blade as the hunter everyone is talking about, and just as tensions are rising….
…Frat-boy Caine runs away.
Fucking really? You are the ARCHVAMPIRE, your natural form is a SAURON HELLBEAST, and you are RUNNING? THE FUCK?? AWAY???
Okay, fine, whatever. At least this gives us an opportunity to see more of Frat-boy Caine’s powers:
And all in the middle of the day! If it wasn’t for Blade’s flaring coat, I’d think we were in some shitty Bourne-knockoff. Blade and Frat-boy finally meet on a rooftop and Frat-boy rants about having more power than the rest because he was the first, but honestly with what I’ve seen I’d peg him at Gen-11, TOPS. Anyway, he tosses a baby at Blade and gets away.
Back at the hunter base, everyone has their respective Introspective Moments™ as Katniss ponders her father’s legacy, Deadpool whines about fighting a war they can’t win, and Blade has a heart to heart with Not-Emma-Stone’s daughter, Zoey. It doesn’t last long, though, cause Not-Emma-Stone announces she’s tracked down vampire biznus to some medical supply company on the edge of town. The team heads there, catches the chief of police fraternizing with one of Posey’s vampire lackeys, kills her, and makes him open the warehouse.
So yeah, turns out the vampires are actually using their brains for once and have started collecting homeless and other abandoned people for blood farming instead of piecemeal hunting. This also conveniently sets them up with infrastructure already in place for when and if they actually take over the planet, which the chief assures Blade will be soon now that Frat-boy Caine is back in town. And as much as this movie drives me nuts, I will give it this: the art direction of this whole scene is genuinely inspired.
There’s no dank corridors, no rotting concrete, no blade-lined Tremere exsanguinarium chambers. Instead, it’s clear, sterile, the picture of medical-efficiency, with computer screens monitoring flow levels and even a lab tech working the desk. Against this mundane backdrop, the macabre rises to the grotesque, especially with the humanizing touches people’s clothes and shoes seen through the shrink wrap. A perfect example of how wisely-selected contrasts can create the best horror of all.
Speaking of well-designed horror, the movie also does a decent job with the next scene, as Frat-boy Caine shows up at the Nightstalker’s clubhouse disguised as Kris Kristofferson and proceeds to execute everyone. Putting aside how he learned to mimic a man he never met, this scene has a lot of tension and atmosphere to it as Not-Emma-Stone is left one of the last alive and, being blind, feels her way through the dark, knowing by the silence that her friends are dead at the hands of a monster she cannot see, that she’s next, and she’s unable to do anything about it.
Katniss and Blade return to base too late to save anyone, but there’s evidence that Deadpool and Zoey were kidnapped instead of killed, so after a moment of grieving—that Whistler family legacy stings a bitch, doesn’t it Katniss?—they vow to fight on.
The next scene opens on Deadpool, captive of the vampires once more, and we get some exchanges about Jaws’s pet, who apparently has fun jaws of his own. And just for the record, “You made a goddamn vampire Pomeranian!?” is Jim’s favorite line from all three movies.
As a side note, I do think it’s interesting how they brought back the vagina-face jaws in this movie. The way that they’ve used them in this movie indicates that they’re not some random mutation caused by Damaskinos’s meddling, but an ancestral trait held-over from Frat-boy Caine that has been turned off in modern vampires through some manner of gene silencing mutation or epigenetic effect. In other words, Damaskinos may have thought he created the next evolution of vampire, but he simply turned back on genes that were already there. That’s actually a really cool idea, and the last evidence I need to prove that throughout the series, somewhere behind this whole mess, someone has been thinking about the science. Well done, and thank you.
Anyway, Posey and her henchmen rough up Deadpool with more shitty wisecracks, but it gives the movie an excuse to show Ryan Reynolds greased up, chained down, and shirtless, so I’m not complaining too much.
Posey wants info on the Daystar virus but all Deadpool gives her is sass, so she threatens to turn him again. Deadpool looks irked at the prospect, but his irreverent face falls as she then threatens to turn him, let him slowly starve for a few nights, then throw Zoey in for him to feed on when he is past the point of willpower saves. That’s some cold shit, Posey, but props. That’s the sort of psychological horror I expect from a vampire. I’m gonna guess Frat-boy Caine came up with the idea.
Back at the base, Blade and Katniss prepare themselves physically and mentally, to which I say WHY THE HELL ARE YOU STILL AT THE BASE??? I mean, I guess they know the vampires want them to come after them, why else take living captives, but prudence never hurts. Also, on a similar note, if the vampires are so keen on finding out about the new bioweapon, WHY DIDN’T FRAT-BOY CAINE JUST RANSACK THE BASE AND ALL THE LAB EQUIPMENT WHILE HE WAS THERE? Or, if he’s too far out of the loop, just a thought, why not send one of their GHOULED MEDICAL PERSONELLE from the blood-farm operations???
Another hunter shows up and announces himself as their driver for the evening—cause apparently there’s enough of them around they have their own subculture Uber service?—but he also apparently has a recorded video message from Not-Emma-Stone that catches them up on her Daystar research, and of all the plot devices in the movie, this one is definitely one of the most glaring. So…what, was Not-Emma-Stone recording these messages every single day as her research progressed, just in case she kicked it unexpectedly? That has got to be seriously time-consuming and more than a little macabre. Surely it would simpler—and healthier—to back up her data to an offsite location, tagged with a WRITTEN report summary for those who might need help understanding it. But, in any event, her video says the virus is more or less ready, give it a shot, why not. Oh but be careful Blade cause it might do weird shit to you, not sure though, guess you’ll find out! Good luck!
Back with the vampires, the movie proves just how non-threatening Frat-boy Caine is when he’s unable to even intimidate a chained-up little girl. But don’t worry, Blade and Katniss are on their way, after an extended suit-up montage scene. How do they know where to go? Well Deadpool takes a break from his ass-beating to announce to the vampires and the audience that he’s embedded with a tracking device. Sure enough, Blade busts in not long later after releasing a bunch of aerosolized colloidal silver into the vents, which is a great idea, we should use it in-game on werewolves.
And then general fuckery ensues.
Vampires literally flood out of the woodwork and Katniss and Blade take them on in a continuous run of ass-kicking. Blade is fine at his job, as usual, but according to Jim, apparently Jessica Biel GAINED something like fifteen pounds of MUSCLE for this movie, and holy Lilith Mother of Darkness does it show. Up till this point I had been spending the movie staring enviously at her abs, but when she fucking unleashes the guns—
—It was all I could do to not get up and start working out with my freeweights RIGHT THEN.
Meanwhile, while Katniss and Blade are taking out piles and piles of raid-trash mooks, Deadpool contributes by taking out one vampire Pomeranian and his two Rottweiler buddies, then keeps Jaws busy with slap-fight-level wrestling and more poorly-scripted insults.
Blade finally reaches Frat-boy Caine for their boss battle, but once again, Frat-boy is in his human form, complete with mid-range Ren Faire armor and his favorite stainless-steel necklace. They sword fight, and there’s a few cool moves, I guess, but they’re mostly slanted toward European broadsword martial-arts, so it seems like a waste of Blade’s trademark katana. After destroying most of the windows and marble tile left in the building, Frat-boy Caine decides he’s had enough playing, rips off his armor, and FINALLY unleashes his goddamn Zulo-form.
As Zulo-Frat-boy beats Blade down into submission, Katniss shows up to fire an arrow loaded with the Daystar virus, but—in the first REAL show of Celerity in this entire damn series—Zulo-Delta-Nu snatches the arrow out of the air. I guess he doesn’t know what it is, though, cause instead of tossing it away, he drops it at his feet, which gives Blade the opportunity to grab and stab him with it.
Zulo-Delta-Nu collapses and the virus—perhaps enhanced by some sort of Protean mist-form ability?—releases into the air to spread through the building and kill any vampires still left, including Parker Posey, awkwardly caught mid BDSM-scene as she tries to choke Deadpool out.
Zulo-Delta-Nu, though, doesn’t die right away. He morphs back into Frat-boy Caine to give Blade a monologue about how Blade is the real future of the vampire race, he fought with honor, blah blah blah. As the sun rises, SWAT teams lead by Special Agents Johnson and Johnson flood into the building to find piles of ash and…Blade? Still unconscious on the floor even after Deadpool and Katniss found him? Oh wait, no, apparently it’s Frat-boy Caine, morphed to look like Blade to fool the FBI, although that effect is ruined when he then reverts back to his Frat-boy form the moment he’s on the autopsy table. But I guess the idea is that his presence is proof to the FBI that Blade was right all along? I don’t know. Deadpool tries to explain it in voiceover narration but the movie ends before pretty much any questions are answered.
I enjoyed writing this recap-review, but the truth of the matter is I did not really enjoy this movie. It feels like a pale shadow of the first movie, even with a slightly better plot structure and lack of Deacon Frost, and the reviews and box office take-home seem to agree. Reading up about it, in fact, it seems this movie was cursed from the start. David Goyer, who was the principal screenwriter for all the other Blade movies, was suddenly tagged in to direct this movie after the project began even though he had little previous directing experience. Something about this switch pissed off Wesley Snipes and he apparently acted like a bitch throughout the whole filming, showing up to set super-high and being rude to other members of the cast and crew. Supposedly, some of the other roles—especially Ryan Reynolds’s—were expanded to expanded as filler to make up for the difficulty in getting decent Snipes-screentime, which probably explains a lot of the awkwardly forced, wooden dialogue. And while no one can say entirely why Snipes freaked out about Goyer directing, deep down I have to wonder if he was partly right.
Blade movies, at their heart, are action movies, and as an action movie, this movie is not directed well. Lately I’ve been watching the Every Frame a Painting video essays on filmography and editing and the one discussing the particular styles of Jackie Chan’s action comedy was very enlightening on understanding fight scenes in films. I’m not saying every action movie needs to look like a Jackie Chan film, or even an Eastern martial arts film, but this essay brought up a lot of very good points that I think this movie illustrates as a negative example. Specifically:
- Too many cuts. This was perhaps a function of working around Snipes’s poor attitude, but unlike the first movie—which had many long sweeping scenes of Snipes fighting his way through crowds of guards—this movie has bursts of action and cutaways that make it hard to get a feel for what’s going on. In Jessica Biel’s subway fight, for example, I wanted more dramatic poses and shots of her million-dollar athletic form in use, but instead the camera whirls around and pulls away from punches. The final boss fight in the vampire den is absolutely frenetic with cuts (partly probably because of the constraints of the location, see item #3 below). Compare that to the final fight in the first movie when Blade tears his way sequentially through waves of mooks in long-shots and it really feels like this movie was the more amateurish effort.
- Dark and dim fight scenes. Yes, it seems weird to complain about too much darkness in a vampire movie, but many of the fights seem claustrophobic and muddled rather than grim and dramatic. Blade’s final fight with Drake, for instance, feels almost like half a fight, as they’re lit by hot one-directional light which looks about as flattering on their movements as the overhead lights in a Target dressing room do on my pasty white ab-pudge. Darkness also kind of ruins scenes that aren’t supposed to be dark and moody. For example, in the scene where they’re breaking out of the police station and fighting through the halls the lights keep dimming and brightening overhead in a way that’s far more nauseating than dramatic.
- Poor framing. Part of this, I think, was a result of poor location scouting. The long, geometric mall-like building used as the vampire hideout is good for dramatic slo-mo shots of Parker Posey striding through it (and she does have a good stride) but when it comes to the final boss-fight it’s kind of a mess. Lines of sight are too constrained, there’s all these random skinny support beams jutting through every shot…it was a bad choice overall. But there’s also bad framing in the rest of the movie’s cinematography. While making screenshots for the first movie, I commented on how literally almost every frame I paused on looked like a painting of grim color and composition. But I had a lot more trouble pulling stills for this movie, since many times the focus of a scene was in the background, or poorly lit, or the whole thing was composited in a weird way. I’m not saying everything needs to be Michael Bay dramatic shots and high contrast, but just look at the stills I pulled from the last two movies compared with this movie and you’ll get a sense of what I’m talking about.
- Relying on musical score to increase the tension rather than choreography. The soundtrack is alright, but I felt like many of the fights and actions rely on it too much to direct the emotional energy of the fight. One of the worst offenders of this is the scene where Blade chases Drake through the city. All they do is run after each other, for minutes on end. Yes, towards the end they do a little bit of supernatural jumping across gaps between buildings, but the what little increase in energy there is comes from the score alone. Many of the later fights do similar things, as the high degree of cuts muddles and flattens the visual energy.
- Too many montages. I love a good montage. They show lots of things happening at once, remind everyone of whats going on, etc, but I think this movie used them a little too much and too often for runtime filler. They also weren’t that good. For example, there’s a two minute scene of Jessica Biel working on improving the speed of her arrow shots by tightening the strings of her compound bow, which—setting aside the fact that compound bows don’t work like that—isn’t particularly interesting, nor do we get a sense that any of this was worthwhile, cause her shots later are just as decent as her shots at the beginning of the movie. Then again, when she and Blade suit up to take on the vampires, there are many shots of weapons and leather and mounting up on motorcycles, but even at the time I watched it it felt like filler rather than a visual reward.
I’m sorry the Blade series ended on this mediocre note (though there apparently are talks of a new movie, which I would now be genuinely interested to see) but I will end this review on a more positive one: As much as I’ve ripped on Goyer’s directorial work here, as a writer he seems like an alright guy. The plot structuring on the movies improved over the course of the trilogy and they genuinely did interesting things to push the world in new directions. Most interestingly, though, is this 2015 quote from him I found on his Wikipedia page:
“I think the world would be a better place if more filmmakers were either female or came from more diverse backgrounds, because there are too many white male directors. I was on the board of the Writer’s Guild and that was a big issue for us, sort of the chicken-and-the-egg thing: How do we add more diverse voices, especially when the audience is so diverse?”
This has become an increasingly-mainstream sentiment in Hollywood so it might be easy to assume he is simply parroting the progressive party line. However, I feel the Blade movies support the roots of this sentiment even though they come from a time almost 20 years before this view became widely acceptable. The casts of all the movies have good diversity without feeling too much like tokenism, for instance, and both women and minorities contribute significantly to the plots, but the thing that stood out to me the most is that in every single movie it’s women who are the primary voice of science.
In the first movie, Karen was a little bit of the damsel-in-distress, but she was also an accomplished researcher who figured out how the vampires work and designed a blood toxin which helped save Blade in the final battle and even continued into the next movie. Nyssa may have been kind of shafted at the end of the second movie, but before that she was a warrior and a scholar, leading the autopsy on the ubervampire and explaining their biology. Finally, in this movie, Not-Emma-Stone—real character name Sommerfield—acted as the spiritual successor to Karen, helping explain vampire genetics and doing the primary labwork on creating the Daystar virus. On top of this, all three of these women have an additional minority label, with Sommerfield being blind and Karen and Nyssa being women of color.
As a writer who is trying to be mindful of diversity in her own work, this set an excellent example to me. But as a female scientist who desperately clung to the precious few female scientific role models I had while growing up (the Scully Effect is real, and extra shoutout to Dr. Ellie Sattler) the fact that someone put conscious effort into creating more of them means a lot to me personally. It really, really does.
So as I said, I would like to continue these reviews. Someone reminded me that Underworld is a thing, for instance, but I’d kind of like to try moving away from the action movies and see how this format plays out with dramas like actual Interview with a Vampire, or even earlier classic stuff. However, as I mentioned in the beginning, that will be contingent on me securing a new computer, which may take awhile. But that’s probably for the best, since I am so behind on the gameplay writeups anyway.
But please stay tuned!
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