Having a look at the best Blade film…
Taking a break from recent releases, I thought I’d look at a film I very much enjoy, which I saw again recently as part of my film course. Blade 2 directed by Guillermo Del Toro is a mixed bag objectively speaking. The plot is silly and a little clichéd, the dialogue is cheesy and the acting questionable. But these elements are all flawed in an endearing, dated way, a representation of films from the early 2000’s and all that was fun about them. On top of this, the film has some excellent fight scenes with some intricate choreography, interesting cinematography and very creative creature design, which Del Toro is so famous for. The first Blade film is fun but more deeply flawed and suffers from a seriously unintimidating villain, and for the most part I prefer the sequel. The less said about Blade Trinity the better. So, I think it’s worth exploring the ups and downs of the best film in the Blade trilogy.
To start with a negative, the biggest problem with all three of these films is the script. The story is not exactly engaging; there are some interesting ideas and cool concepts, but they are wasted amongst a tonne of clichés and pacing issues. David S. Goyer wrote all three and directed Blade Trinity, a big part of why that film is so awful, but as writer he is fine. Just fine. He’s not an incompetent writer, he knows how to craft a character arc and create stakes, but he just doesn’t have enough originality. The weakest part of Blade 2 in particular is that the story is convoluted and messy. Characters motivations are unclear, twists that are supposed to be surprising are painfully obvious, and a character is even retconned back from death in the previous film. I don’t blame Del Toro, he didn’t write the script, and the direction is miles better than the first one. Goyer is simply not an interesting enough writer and given his recent contributions to the superhero genre, it’s clear he can’t hold an audience’s attention on his own. Every film written by him I’ve seen that has been at least decent has had other more talented people working on it. In the Dark Knight trilogy, he wrote with Christopher Nolan, in this film, Del Toro manages to elevate his very average script to a much more entertaining film.
On a more positive note, the film has a very unique visual design. The direction and cinematography are much improved from the first film. There are far fewer dated shots, like the sped-up footage that permeated so much of the late nineties and early 2000’s. The fights are easier to follow as a consequence, and the choreography of the fights is easily the best part of the entire film. The monster and costume design are much less boring than in the first film too. Now instead of hot topic vampires wearing fur coats or open shirts, we have a tactical squad of trained killer vampires, wearing body armour and even a chain shirt at one point. The villains aren’t human looking vampires, they are a brilliant homage to the Nosferatu style makeup of the 1920’s. They are incredibly unnerving and scary, thanks their unhinging, predator-like mouths, and feral veiny appearance. The differing costumes and visual style make this Blade much more enjoyable to look at, even when no action is happening, something that can’t be said either for the previous film are for Blade Trinity. This film, mainly thanks to the excellent costume design on the reaper vampires, feels more like a blend of horror and action than just action.
On to the performances. This film has a large cast of side characters, and as such a lot of them don’t really get a chance to shine through. For example, I was surprised to see Donnie Yen amongst the elite vampire squad, and even more surprised when he barely got two scenes in the whole film. That is a criminal waste of Donnie Yen’s talent as a martial artist; his character doesn’t even die onscreen! However, he I learned that he was the fight choreographer for the film, which does explain why it is so much better. However, there are several key characters that get just enough development, and give a good performance whilst doing so. The main villain has quite a compelling Frankenstein complex, as he is created to be a new type of more durable vampire, but goes wrong, and seeks revenge on his father for making him this way. Luke Goss is an incredibly intimidating bad guy, but I’m unsure if this is owing to his acting or the insanely good makeup and prosthetics. Either way, it’s a huge improvement on Deacon Frost from Blade 1, AKA the boring cool bad guy. Norman Reedus plays a charming techie who helps out Blade and his partner Whistler, and Reedus does such a good job it is genuinely heart breaking when he betrays them and joins the vampires. Apart from these two, the only other memorable character is Nyssa, daughter of the vampire lord, who goes through a quite compelling arch through the movie.
Leonor Varela plays her with a tough vulnerability which is easy to relate to, and as she was born a vampire, we can sympathise with her more, as she has known no other way. She forms a deeper connection to Blade, seeing him when he takes a blood serum to stave off the thirst. She sees him in a vulnerable position, and the two form mutual respect as they fight side by side. Blade even saves her life at one point. Her decision at the end to go against her father is a sign of her growing out of his shadow. Wesley Snipes as Blade is not particularly deep. He is a stoic and outside of his connection to Nyssa, he mostly serves to deliver cool lines and kick arse. He does this very well. Snipes oozes cool, he delivers even cheesy lines with a conviction that makes it work, and his martial arts background ensures he always looks like he knows what he is doing.
On the whole, this film may not be a deep or particularly nuanced story, but is has some very exciting action, excellent choreography and stunning visual and costume design. It is a blast from start to finish, and is held up by decent performances and unique direction from Guillermo Del Toro. It isn’t high art, it isn’t Oscar worthy, but it’s a fun blend of several genres, that keeps from ever being boring. It’s easy to see why many consider this to be the best Blade film.