by Del Harvey
Some writers should know when to quit.
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Last night I caught a screening of the third and final entry in the Blade films. Well, they say that it’s the last one; let’s hope they keep it that way. The first two were outstanding, dynamic, supercharged escapist fun in the tried-and-true action thriller mode, featuring the anti-superhero Blade, a daywalking vampire who is half-human and tough as steel. The first one was directed by Stephen Norrington, the second by Guillermo del Toro. Even their most recent and quite feeble comicbook hero films The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and Hellboy, both of which I have panned, are superior to this last installment of the Blade story.
Why? How does a beloved franchise take a nosedive into drecksville in one simple film? I can place the blame squarely upon the shoulders of the series’ writer—and director of the final film—David S. Goyer. Goyer, whose writing credits include the first two Blades, Crow: City of Angels, and the upcoming Batman Begins, started out as a comic book writer on titles such as Starman and JSA. So he should know comic books. To Goyer’s credit, he has been an excellent writer of the genre. However, ambition and overextension of talents can very often detract from an individual’s ability to do the simplest of tasks, including making smart decisions. This seems to be the case with Goyer’s foray into directing Blade: Trinity.
Sure, there’s action, there are special effects, there are good characters, and there’s even a story. But it’s nothing we haven’t seen before. And if the Blade series has been anything, it has been original. Trinity throws originality out the window from the first scene, presenting in its place nonstop action. The only problem is, the action is nothing new. And the plot is weak because the director does not rely enough on story. When you end a franchise, you want to do it with strength and dynamic intensity; not with a rehashing of the same-old, same-old. Sadly, that’s what we get with Blade: Trinity.
In this film, Wesley Snipes’ character (the lead character) has been reduced to boorish straight man for a hyper-buffed up Ryan Reynolds (The In-Laws, Van Wilder). Reynolds’ lines are decent enough, but this straight man routine is new to the Blade series, and I’m not convinced the third and final film is the place to introduce such buffoonery. Also introduced is Whistler’s daughter, once removed, Abigail. The lovely Jessica Biel (Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Rules of Attraction), is good as Blade’s shadow, performing an almost kick-for-kick and bullet-for-bullet imitation for every move Blade makes. Together, Biel and Reynolds fill in for the obviously missing Whistler (Kris Kristofferson), who makes a brief appearance at film’s beginning. Nice to look at, young and athletic, or simply wisecracking, Biel and Reynolds lack the intensity and menace and presence of the elder Whistler, and his absence is strongly felt and sorely missed.
And now to the bad guys. Where can I begin? They’re all so bad. Dominic Purcell (minor roles in films like Mission Impossible II) as Drake/Dracula is less than villainous. He is physically no match for Snipes; yet he is supposed to be the most heinous vampire in history? What’s worse, he is written as the “perfect vampire,” yet none of the mythical stereotypes hold true for him. This further weakens an already weak story. Then you’ve got Parker Posey (The Sweetest Thing, Josie and the Pussycats) as Danica Talos, a bitch-on-wheels vampire who looks more like punked-up white trash than anything remotely menacing. She leads a group of vampires who are searching for Drac’s perfect blood. This is simply unbelievable. I like Posey well enough, but the word “miscast” applies as much to her as it does to Purcell, in this case.
Rounding out the bad guys are super-muscle-bound WWF star Paul Michael Levesque as Wolfe, snarling and snapping at every human he comes into contact with, and Callum Keith Rennie as Asher, the snappy dressing wiseguy of the bunch. These guys are merely background characters and fulfill their roles nicely. Purcell and Posey, however, are so weak that we never once feel that Blade is in danger.
Then there are the plot holes. In the opening we have Reynolds narrating that “The story begins and ends with Blade,” inferring that this is the story of vampires’ rule on Earth. But by film’s end we see that’s not actually the case, or else they would have no possible opportunity for sequels in the future. That is just the beginning. The errors only go on and add up from there. I have neither the time nor the energy to delver further into this hugely disappointing film.
If you must see it, wait for it on cable. It’s not even worth renting the DVD. Wesley Snipes is reported as saying he is interested in bringing the comic hero Black Panther to the screen. I sure hope he does, because he is excellent when given the chance. In Blade: Trinity, Mr. Snipes was given no chance whatsoever. And that is the biggest disappointment of all.
Del Harvey is a writer and screenwriting teacher living in Chicago.
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