A film review by Craig J. Koban
BLADE: TRINITY ½
2005, R, 105 mins.
2005, R, 105 mins.
Blade: Wesley Snipes /
Whistler: Kris Kristofferson /
Hannibal King: Ryan Reynolds /
Abigail Whistler: Jessica Biel /
Danica Talos: Parker Posey /
Flick: Casey Beddow / Dracula / Drake: Dominic Purcell
The third film in the surprisingly lucrative and popular BLADE franchise not only embraces mediocrity and complete inanity, but it reaches for and achieves the diminutive status of a ludicrous, mindless and completely disposable popcorn entertainment. In terms of escapist films, this has to be one of the most joyless, uninspired, and routine that I have seen in many a moon, a film that sacrifices any artifice or pretence of holding up a candle to the relative worth of its two previous films that came before it. If there were a list of films that completely encapsulated a principle of “should have stopped while they were ahead," then this dud would make the top of the list. BLADE: TRINITY is obnoxiously loud, overbearingly vulgar, visually incoherent, chaotically over directed, and lacks the intriguing story that occupied the first few films in the series. One does not just shift their brain into neutral by watching this, you have to hit the brakes, make a dead stop, and quickly shift into reverse…preferably out of the theatre.
Now, many have commented on my genuine penchant for being quite favourable to most escapist entertainments, and this assertion is quite true indeed. However, I think that the best escapist films work and have a sort of out-of body allure over me, where they seemingly allow me to subconsciously lose awareness of my surroundings and instead become transfixed in their universe. That’s the key to these types of movies – my ethereal buy-in. BLADE: TRINITY achieves none of this, and instead inspired me, more than anything, to constantly check my watch, stare at the screen in incredulous and scornful disbelief, contemplating the sanity of those that gave it the green light and finally returning to some sort of pre-adolescent stage of my mental state by wondering when the film was finally going to show off more of Jessica Biel’s midriff.
Then comes the tricky issue of vampires altogether. Let’s face it, unless one can do something ingenious, inspired, or unique with this material that has been done to death in most mainstream entertainments, then it's safe to say that you are in troubled waters. Modern films about vampirism have been mixed blessings, but the ones that tend to stand out are ones that try to ignore Bram Stoker’s infamous 19TH Century creation completely (like INTERVIEW WITH A VAMPIRE, for example).
The first BLADE also worked by crafting an intriguing concept about the cult of the vampires. Marv Wolfman and Gene Colon’s classic Marvel Comics character is a stimulating one - a man that is half vampire, half human that fights a never-ending crusade against secret vampire societies that desperately want to take over the world. Blade was a sort of neo-blaxploitation badass that drove a muscle car, had a lot of nifty and advanced weaponry, and always seemed to ooze a level of radiating hipness and coolness. The first BLADE and even its follow-up were modestly and respectably successful in terms of creating a unique, gothic world and populated it with interesting characters. They were hard-core, violent, scary, devilishly funny, and took their own tone seriously, but not too seriously.
BLADE: TRINITY misses the boat altogether and makes the catastrophic error of giving the anti-hero the king of the vamps himself – Dracula – to be his inevitable nemesis. Clearly, this marks a genuine lack of inspiration and originality, but also a failure to make this version of Dracula someone fascinating and scary altogether. Dracula is again presented as a centuries old monster that likes to suck blood, but in this film he never really feels like a threat at all. Not only that, but he’s played by a hunky Dominic Purcell and looks less like a loathsome creature and more like a well-dressed GQ supermodel mixed with a professional wrestler. BLADE: TRINITY plays more like a poor-man’s VAN HELSING as a result, and that is not an all-inspiring stamp of approval in hindsight.
The film is yet another retread into what the previous films did a good job telling us, which instills a considerable amount of speculation on my part as to why this film was ultimately necessary. BLADE: TRINITY once again pits the semi-nocturnal hunter (played again by Wesley Snipes, looking a bit more bored this time around) as he commits himself to yet another battle versus the evil minions of vampires that pollute the Earth. Once again, Blade has his Q in his back pocket in the form of Whistler (Kris Kristofferson, playing his role that has about as much life as the undead themselves).
Whistler realizes that they are seriously outnumbered in their quest to stop the world’s vampires, and who could blame them? With a genuine lack of support, it seems doubtful that Blade could ever, ever stop the evil nosferatus by himself. Then again, the vampires in the BLADE films have always been woefully inept as bad guys, whereas the seemingly unstoppable Blade can easily vaporize most of them. BLADE: TRINITY knows that latter point all-too-well, as he basically parades and struts around endlessly and shoots ad kills vampires and then when he’s done that he shoots and kills more vampires. This leads me to one conclusion: There is no sense of intensity or tension in this film. Blade is so unstoppable that any hint that he might be in danger seems superfluous at best. I also find it unintentionally humorous how the undead can instantly disintegrate into dust without leaving any evidence whatsoever, kind of like the ninja assassins from ELEKTRA, but those were different – they evaporated into green gas, the vampires evaporate into yellow ashes…how silly of me to confuse the two.
The film opens in a particular Arab country where a series of vampires lead by Danica (played by…you got it…Parker Posey) have unearthed a certain Prince of Darkness in order to help them with their desire to enact their “final solution” (considering the geography of their discovery, it just begs the pun “They found Dracula between Iraq and a hard place,” but enough with the juvenile wisecracks). Anyhow, Danica is one stern and sadistic lady, as she eventually plots to get the FBI to hunt and capture Blade who, to his own admission, has been responsible for…lemmie think…1182 murders, basically making the biggest serial killer of all time. Not so, dear readers, as Blade is a vampire hunter and has only killed vampires, or “familiars” as he calls them. With his tact for grossly underplayed euphemisms, Blade would be ideal to run for office in 2008.
Nevertheless, FBI agents surround Blade’s headquarters, which inspires enough laughs on its own (at least Batman has a secret, hollowed-out underground lair, but with Blade being wanted by the Federal Government for over a thousand murders, you’d think he’d have a better hideout than a warehouse). In the ensuing bedlam, Whistler gets taken out, Blade is captured by the FBI and is held there, at least until the Night Stalkers can come and rescue them.
The Night Stalkers are not the half-breeds like good ol’ Blade; they are human. One is Abigail, played in a performance that involves much running around, exposing flesh and looking sexy by Jessica Biel. It is revealed that Abigail is the daughter of Whistler (Whister’s daughter, get it?) and has secretly trained herself to be a vigilante vampire hunter. Hannibal “Not Lector” King joins her, and Ryan Reynolds, who continues to demonstrate that he is the eerie love child of actors Jim Carrey and Jason Lee, plays him. King has a wisecrack for every occasion, and his fatuous and infantile ranting grows lamer by the minute. They also have a stockpile of incredible…nay…extra-ordinary weapons. I especially howled at Abigail’s weapon, which looks like a cross between a bow and a lightsaber, which, if I heard right, harnesses a laser beam that is nearly as intense as the sun. Hmmm…is there a metal on Earth that could harness and contain that? Not only that, but I especially liked the shameless plug of the Apple I-Pod, which Abigail uses to listen to her favourite MP3’s while fighting vampires. Is it just me, or would you not want all of your senses on full alert when you’re battling monsters, or is it just me?
The Night Stalkers have some great news for Blade. They reveal that the Vampire Nation found the original Dracula and in order to spread their vampire virus, they need his “better” DNA, or some nonsense like that. His superior DNA also conveniently explains why he can walk by day and night, not to mention that, to take a page out of Zoolander’s notebook, looks really, really really good-looking’. However, at the same time the Stalkers have devised a plan to get Dracula’s blood to create some sort of serum that will wipe out the vampires completely.
Eventually, it's man and half-man, half-vampire versus the vampires during which we get a parade of endless, uninspired fight scenes that play more like chaotic, messy, and lackluster hip-hop music videos then visceral moments of mayhem. The fights grow repetitive and dull fast, and when the humans are capable enough of dispatching the vampires so expeditiously, then its clear that Dracula and his cohorts will not succeed. Also, the final battle with Blade and Dracula himself is completely frustrating in its setup and execution. You would think that a man that is centuries old would have the complete upper hand in terms of combat and swordplay over Blade, but all evidence to the contrary. Then, when it seems that he will lose the battle, Dracula changes into a hideous red beast that looks like a cross between Satan and the Predator aliens, which left me wondering why he just did not assume that form in the first place.
I felt many similar perplexing thoughts throughout most of BLADE: TRINITY, whose plot goes from dumb to stupid to preposterous in one flawless swoop, which ostensibly is just a shaky one to frame the film’s regurgitated and sloppy fight scenes. When you see Blade and company kill vampires it’s nifty at the start, but after awhile when they’ve slaughtered dozens it loses its appeal and effect. The music in the film is pumped up to egregious and deafening levels and punctuates fights scenes that lack cadence and life. The film has ten minutes worth of story that is extended into a near two-hour MTV-filmed music video that is constructed with the annoying and grating style that seems to be made for audience members with attention-deficit-disorder. Not only that, but the performances are equally clumsy. Jessica Biel is all body and no substance, Ryan Reynolds’ adolescent deadpanning grows irritating, Wesley Snipes seems completely uninspired by the proceedings, and Parker Posey as Danica embodies her performance with a level of hideous and terribly overplayed camp value that generated more groans than chills. And as for Dracula himself, well, he represents the worst casting of a villain since, ironically, Richard Roxburgh played the Count in VAN HELSING.
I may have been easier on BLADE: TRINITY if it was a stand-alone film, but as a third film in a once moderately compelling film series, this film is an unmitigated and nauseatingly boring mess. This is made all the more shocking, seeing as it was made by David S. Goyer, who penned the previous two BLADE films and co-wrote the recent BATMAN BEGINS, which has emerged as one of the most thoughtful comic book films ever made. With this third BLADE film it's obvious and readily apparent that the series has completely run out of gas and I grow agitated by the thought of BLADE 4, if that will ever see the light of day. I mean, what would Blade do after he’s done exterminating all of the vampires? Like Hannibal King asks him at one point, “I got a question for you... Let's say we succeed in wiping out all the vampires. What then? Huh? Ever ask yourself that? I mean somehow I don't picture you teaching Karate at the local Y.” Hmmm…a half-breed vampire that’s a Tae Bo instructor…now that would be a movie to see!
My CONTRIBUTING EDITOR - Steve Barss - let me know that the "familiars" that Blade referred to were "actually the vampire's human servants" and were not (as I unwisely thought) the vampires themselves. Okay, but I just wish Steve could explain to me how that dang weapon Jessica Biel had managed to have metal strong enough to hold a laser that is "half as hot as the sun," as that is something that I am definitely not "familiar" with.