Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Movie Review: Blade: Trinity

United States, 2004
U.S. Release Date: 12/8/04 (wide)
Running Time: 1:45
Rated: R (Violence, profanity)
Cast: Wesley Snipes, Ryan Reynolds, Jessica Biel, Parker Posey, Dominic Purcell, Kris Kristofferson, Natasha Lyonne, Cascy Beddow, Callum Keith Rennie

Director: David S. Goyer
Producers: David S. Goyer, Wesley Snipes, Lynn Harris
Screenplay: David S. Goyer
Music: Ramin Djawadi, the Rza
Studio: New Line Cinema

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In the first two Blade pictures, David S. Goyer served as the one and only screenwriter, and rewardingly, he was not at the helm as director. However, with Blade: Trinity (the third and presumably final chapter), Goyer makes his directorial debut, and even though he most likely knows the story of the Marvel comic hero Blade better than anyone else, as a director, he basically just rehashes what Del Toro’s did in the superior Blade II and what Norrington achieved in the entertaining original. The only difference the third time around is that with Goyer in the chair, the picture takes on a wholly different tone and unfortunately brings more laughs to the table than anything else.

Blade: Trinity mainly consists of the same old car chases, fight sequences, and vampire butchery (followed by the usual molten ash) that could be found in the previous Blade films; however, the third installment brings along an innovative set of weapons, a brand new villain, and a fresh team of sidekicks for the leather-strapped hybrid. Even so, because of its lighter nature and paltry plot, Blade: Trinity is sure to be both an overall frustration to fans of the series and the dullest Blade in the box.

After defeating the vampire wannabe-leader Deacon Frost in Blade and a pack of unruly mutant vampires in II, Blade (Wesley Snipes) now finds himself set up by a new vampire-in-charge named Danica Talos (Parker Posey). Danica purposely sets Blade up to kill a human, and in doing so, he ends up getting caught by the FBI. However, help is on the way in the form of a group of vampire assassins who call themselves "the Nightstalkers". The acerbic Hannibal King (Ryan Reynolds) and the sexy daughter of Whistler, Abigail (Jessica Biel), lead "the Nightstalkers" to both rescue Blade from the FEDs and to join forces.

Meanwhile, Danica and friends have found the first and purest vampire of them all, Dracula, a.k.a. Drake (Dominic Purcell). The entire vampire race believes that if they can match their own genetic codes with Drake’s untainted helix, then they can acquire the ability to be “daywalkers”. However, "the Nightstalkers" have something else in mind for the fate of Drake’s blood.

Sommerfield (Natasha Lyonne), the Nightstalkers’ scientist, has developed a virus that could potentially wipe out the entire bloodsucking populace--including the almighty Dracula. The only catch is that the virus needs to be interfused with Drake’s blood, and by doing so, Blade (who is half vampire) may be killed in the process.

Blade: Trinity’s plot (if you can even call it that) is poor. It mostly consists of a deafening techno soundtrack playing over repetitive action sequences, and in between those, it’s all relatively boring and tends to comes off more as clowning around than anything stylish.

The storyline is so cluttered with characters that Goyer obviously can’t stay focused. The new cast members muddle the script and take all of the attention away from the paper-thin plot and the very lead that the picture is named after.

With Wesley Snipes returning as Blade, he gives yet another martial arts performance that all will surely find impressive; however, his dialogue is largely limited, which both immensely takes away from his character and allows the new additions to shine.

In general, Blade’s “help” in Trinity is a bit disappointing. Nevertheless, Jessica Beil plays her part well as Abigail—again, proving that in the third part of a trilogy a family member of a main character is revealed and comes in handy down the stretch. Beil’s moves work, but still, her character is just as unnecessary as both her shower scene and the iPod plug. Ryan Reynolds, who plays the Hannibal King (whatever that means), literally provides a joke-a-minute; his one-liners (most of which he wrote himself) keep the film semi-entertaining, but at the same time, they urbanize and practically ruin what the gritty and gothic first two films stood for. The Blade franchise was never about comedy, and by allowing the former Van Wilder to spew out wise-crack after wise-crack, Goyer drops Blade: Trinity to a quality that is near self-parody—versus the action-pumping and unremitting precursors.

Both Purcell and Posey provide for a bit more upscale leads. Parker Posey jumps from independent to mainstream and fairs quite well, while Dominic looks great as Goyer’s body-builder version of Dracula. (Speaking of which, it actually appears as if Goyer combined the look of Shao Kahn from Mortal Kombat with the mouth motions of the creature from Predator to create the perfect fanged villain. On a side note, I’d hate to see Goyer’s interpretation of an alien; it would probably turn out worse than Stephen King’s vision from Dreamcatcher.)

In addition, Whistler (Kris Kristofferson) returns for yet another part in the series, but thankfully his screen-time is snipped short. Furthermore, with the inclusion of Triple H as Grimwood, Danica’s vampire henchman, Goyer furthers lowers the picture’s grade. Without a doubt, the man who goes by Hunter Hurst Helmsley puts up some of the worst acting ever captured on film. However, it is promising to note that Triple H has not signed on to star in any more features, and the fact that he had to ask Blade: Trinity's production team to fit him into the script shows how pathetic his involvement really was.

The main thing that irked me about Blade: Trinity (aside from Triple H’s absurd role) is that there is virtually no suspense. At no time does Blade take a blow and appear as if he is had, and considering he is facing the greatest challenge of his life – defeating the immortal Dracula – one would think he would have to operate under a bit more difficulty. Also, because Goyer both skips over the story of Vlad the Impaler– and instead fabricates a tale about “Drake” – and uses Rza to head up the loud techno score, Blade: Trinity further results in a picture that is not recommendable and merely average. Moreover, is it just me or did they forget about the little girl that they intended to save at the end?

Because of all of these jutting factors of scanty craftsmanship, Blade: Trinity is, in comparison to its two recommended predecessors, poorly made; truthfully, Blade: Trinity is a dissatisfying way to end a trilogy. Should Goyer and company really end on a bad note and quit while they’re behind? Is it wise to end with a sloppy choppy film that skips all forms of tension and certainly undercuts fans’ expectations? (** out of ****)

© Copyright Brandon Valentine 2004