Sunday, December 19, 2004

Looking To The Stars: Blade: Trinity - A Review

I experienced one rare pleasure this week thanks to the stupidity of my Dean. You see, my college made a bowl game this year. The administrators, not wanting our studies to be disrupted by thoughts of football, pushed Finals Week forward, so I had to take all my exams a week early. Since all my free time in December has been spent with hurriedly finishing papers and studying, I didn't get a chance to see "Blade: Trinity" until about four hours ago.

Because I was forced to wait a week to see it, I was able to see it on a Thursday afternoon. When the movie theater was all but empty except for a few moms trying to see Bridget Jones 2 before the kids get back from school.

There are few joys greater than sitting down to watch a movie in an empty movie theater. It is very freeing, knowing that there will be no screaming children to distract you. No cel-phones suddenly going off. No sweaty fat men hogging your armrest. Just you and a magical silver screen stretched out before you.

But enough waxing melodic. How was the movie?

Not that bad, honestly. Not that great, either, but overall it was a fitting conclusion to the series. Some elements have been improved upon. Others are sorely lacking. But overall, the flick is good for what it is: an action flick without much plot to distract you from the cool images.

As we start off, Blade has gotten careless. After over two movies worth of running around New York with a sword strapped to his back and blowing up numerous buildings, chasing down numerous vampires and getting into numerous car chases, shoot-outs and general mayhem, the police are looking for him. One set-up fight with one "familiar" (human slaves to the vampires, tattooed with a sigil like branded cattle) takes a stake to the heart, doesn't dissolve into ashes as Blade expected and faster than you can say "Candid Camera" the police have video evidence that a dangerous serial killer is on the loose in New York City.

After a firefight that destroys Blade and Whistler's base of operations (taking Whistler with it in the process), Blade is captured and quickly on the path to a slow and painful death at the hands of the new heads of the ruling vampire class (Parker Posey and Triple H, if you can believe it) thanks to their familiars, NYC's Chief of Police and Blade's court-appointed psychiatrist. Thankfully, rescue comes at the hands of The Nightstalkers; a group of vampire hunters Whistler outsourced with. The Nightstalkers then fill in Blade on how a vampire called Drake (aka inspiration for Dracula, first vampire ever) has risen from his rest and is in New York. The vampire bosses are hoping that they can use him to gain Drake's special gift: immunity from sunlight. And so it falls to Blade and the Nightstalkers to save the world... again.

Things take a while to get started, but things aren't dull while we're waiting. Goyer, writer of the first two 'Blade' movies took the reigns as director this time around and does a credible job in shooting his own script. The cinematography makes every shot look like it was taken from a comic book, and not in the way that made The Hulk unwatchable. The shots are quick and focused, like quickly-taken snapshots by a photographer standing on a ledge. The sets are all beautifully designed and filled with plenty of glass walls to be broken and ledges for minions to be tossed over.

Would that the performances were as enjoyable as the scenery. Wesley Snipes IS Blade and nothing is going to change that. He is the same character as before. No better or worse. The only change is that this time, there is no attempt at emotional growth for the character. While the first movie gave him a pseudo-love interest as he learned more about being human and the second movie had some romantic tension with a Vampire-American Princess, this movie will have none of it. The closest we get behind Blade's cipher exterior is one scene where he is asked what he will do if they ever DO kill all the vampires and another where the young daughter of another one of the Nightstalker's asks Blade why he's dependant on a serum to control his vampire half and why he just doesn't try being nice.

"Because the world isn't nice," he replies.

The supporting cast is similarly restrained. Jessica Biel is a credible action heroine here as Whistler's bastard daughter Abby, but is given little to do other than look fetching in a tank-top. Ryan Reynolds, as a slightly-reworked Hannibal King is more annoying than comedic. He is meant to be a foil to the more stoic Snipes, but he'd be a whole lot more successful if his wisecracks didn't alternate between his cowardly screamings of the F-word and pseudo-hip pop-culture references. The rest of the Nightstalkers exist only to be cannon fodder and funny-man/comic writer Patton Oswald (resplendent in a Fantastic Four shirt) is wasted in a bit part as the geeky gunmaker.

The villains don't fare much better, with Parker Posey channeling Fairuza Balk, Triple H sporting a few more lines than he had as The Russian in The Punisher and Dominic Purcell as a Dracula who ranks somewhere below Leslie Nielsen but somewhere above the guy from Van Helsing on the "serious threat" meter.

Thankfully, character counts for very little in this movie. It's all about the action. And on that level, it works wonderfully. The fight scenes are well-shot, with Goyer's direction having eliminated the problems with Blade 2, where so many of the fight scenes were shot so close up as to totally miss the action in favor of amazing action shots of Ron Perlman's biceps. The computer effects are much better too, with the vampires dissolving into ash looking more natural than in the second film.

On the whole, Blade: Trinity is a serviceable action flick. Just don't expect much in the way of character development or humor, and you'll have a good time. Especially if you go on Thursday afternoon when no one else is there.

Tune in next week. Same Matt time.

No comments:

Post a Comment