New Line // 2004 // 123 Minutes // Unrated
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // May 2nd, 2005
The final hunt has begun.
Marvel's comic book vampire hunter Blade was turned into a successful movie in 1998, aptly titled Blade. Four years later, director Guillermo del Toro (Hellboy) upped the ante with the even better Blade II. Two short years later, writer/director David S. Goyer (who is currently working on Batman Begins) gave fans Blade: Trinity, the least successful of the three films (it was made for $65 and only brought in $52 million) and, by any other standards, a fan's worst nightmare. Blade: Trinity arrives on a two-disc Platinum Series edition care of New Line Home Entertainment.
In this final installment of the popular Blade series, the title character Blade (Wesley Snipes, White Men Can't Jump) finds himself up against the mother -- or father, as it were -- of all vampires: Dracula (Dominic Purcell)! To compound matters, Blade finds himself in the middle of a manhunt by the FBI, convinced that he's some kind of psychopath killing people he thinks are vampires (which, of course, they are). When Blade's mentor, Whistler (a very tired looking Kris Kristofferson, Payback), is killed during an FBI sting operation, he finds help in the form of Whistler's vampire hunting daughter Abigail (Jessica Biel, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre) and wisecracking slayer Hannibal King (Ryan Reynolds, The Amityville Horror). It will take all of Blade's survival skills to defeat the king of all vampires in a showdown that's sure to make heads roll and keep the blood pumpin'!
I'm just going to come out and say it: After seeing Guillermo del Toro's splatteriffic Blade II, I knew that Blade: Trinity, the third (and most likely final) entry in the comic book series, would pale by comparison.
I was not a big fan of the original Blade. I remember watching and thinking it relied too heavily on CGI effects and had a main character that had all the charisma of day-old French bread. Then Blade II came out, and I was thrown for a spin; while the character of Blade was still morose and boring, the film around him was fast, furious, well paced, and very action packed. Del Toro -- already a master in the realm of horror with only a few movies under his belt -- took the franchise in what felt like a totally different direction. The screenplay by David S. Goyer -- who also wrote all three films and directed the third -- topped the original by utilizing buckets of blood and new bad guys whose faces opened to reveal what looked like six lawnmowers all spinning at top speed. It was, to say the least, a really fun movie.
So what the heck happened to Blade: Trinity? I'll admit that I liked it more than most critics (it garnered a measly 26% at rottentomatoes.com). Yet after having a few days to ponder, there isn't much about it that stands out as original or exciting. Certainly the storyline had promise. Writer/director David S. Goyer saved what should have been Blade's best nemesis for last: the one and only Count Dracula. Sadly, the filmmakers made a horrendous choice by casting a big, foreign-looking model (a flat Dominic Purcell) as the number one vampire of all time. Huh? Why not go with someone who can actually act and bring pathos to the role, or at least appears sinister and menacing? Instead Dracula is reduced to a guy who looks like he just stepped off the cover of "Men's Journal" magazine, wardrobe and all.
The guy who plays Dracula is really the least of this movie's problems. A bigger issue is that the film as a whole lacks any bite (pun intended) or excitement -- or at least the gore -- of the previous entry. If you enjoyed watching the vampires being turned into glowing piles of ashes, then I'm sure you'll lap up Blade: Trinity. As for me, that particular special effect has worn out its welcome. Goyer and company should have expanded on some of the film's more unique ideas instead of showing the same special effect over and over and over and over...and over again. In fact, Blade: Trinity's single creepiest scene -- vampires harvesting humans in a warehouse that looks like something out of an Orwell novel -- is discarded just as it's becoming interesting. Otherwise, it's a lot of chase scenes without much context and swordfights we've all seen before.
Wesley Snipes brings nothing to the table as Blade. By this third entry, Snipes looks almost as bored with his character as the audience is, and as well he should: Blade's defining characteristics include walking stiffly, expressing a grand total of two facial expressions (mild anger and annoyed anger), and, as one character points out, never blinking. To compound matters, Snipes is overshadowed by Ryan Reynolds as Hannibal King -- the character never tires of making wisecracks whenever another character is around. Reynolds is a funny guy, but his character's obnoxious personality traits seem sorely out of place in a movie like Blade: Trinity (it feels like Van Wilder walked on set and decided to stick around until the end credits). Jessica Biel shows that her talents lie in being eye candy, and little else -- aside her connection to Kris Kristofferson's Whistler (who exits the film rather abruptly in the first twenty minutes), she has little to do but follow Blade around and perform lots of spin kicks.
Which brings us to the single worst performance in the film: Parker Posey. What in the name of Bram Stoker is she doing in this movie? Look, I'm all for actors stretching and reaching beyond what audiences expect, but come on, this isn't even close. Posey is an indie darling, and popping up in a movie like Blade: Trinity is the equivalent of putting the world's finest caviar on TGI Friday's nacho platter. Posey barely manages to speak with the enormous fangs in her mouth, and when she does speak, she comes off as a parody of her Best In Show character.
What did I like about Blade: Trinity? It was fast paced, so watching it wasn't excruciating. I'm an easy to please kind of guy with most action movies, so even if the stunts and effects aren't original, they're at least tolerable. I did like the little Pomeranian vampire dog that nearly upstages everyone. And that's about it. Blade: Trinity is a tepid entry in the series, a colossal step down from both the original Blade and the far better Blade II. I can recommend seeing this film only for completists who feel the burning desire to see how the series ends. Otherwise, don't let this movie suck away two hours of your life.
Blade: Trinity is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. While the movie may bite, this transfer sure doesn't: New Line has made sure that the final Blade movie looks spectacular. The image is sharp and well defined without any imperfections. Dirt, grain, and other flaws are noticeably absent. The colors (lots of reds and blues) are in great shape, as are the dark, solid black levels. Overall this is a great looking print of the film.
The soundtrack is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround as well as DTS 6.1 ES Surround, both in English. Both the 5.1 and DTS tracks will work wonders on your sound system. The film's soundtrack is constantly thumping out bass, dance/techno music, and lots of zooms from cars and explosions. In other words, the sound mix for Blade: Trinity is aggressive. All of the speakers are given a hefty workout. Also included on this set are English and Spanish subtitles.
The feature film Blade: Trinity is available in two versions on this set: R-rated and unrated. The unrated version adds about 10 minutes of extra footage onto the original cut of the film, yet adds nothing to one's enjoyment of the movie.
The rest of the supplements are as follows:
Commentary Tracks: Two commentary tracks are included on Disc One: the first is by director David S. Goyer and actors Ryan Reynolds and Jessica Biel, and the second features Goyer, cinematographer Gabriel Beristain, producers Peter Frankfurt and Lynn Harris, production designer Chris Gorak, and editor Howard E. Smith. The first commentary is expectedly goofy considering Reynolds is included -- he and Goyer crack a lot of jokes, though information about the production, casting, and training is also included. The second track is more technical; while there is a lot of information to be heard, it's not nearly as fun as the first commentary track.
"Daywalkers, Nightstalkers & Familiars: Inside the World of Blade: Trinity" Documentary: Well, if you feel like your knowledge base on everything Blade is slim, just watch this documentary to catch up. Everything seems to be covered here, including story development, casting, costume design, special effects, the music, the sound design, and where the filmmakers go from here with the Blade franchise (hopefully, they stop). This 105-minute feature will surely quench fans thirst for a bird's eye view on the making of the film.
Goyer on Goyer: The Writer Interviews the Director: This silly feature has Goyer interviewing himself (even going so far as to wear different clothes for each persona). It's a pretty flaccid feature, and a bit arrogant if you ask me.
Finally, there's blooper roll with the actors blowing their lines, an alternate ending that looks as if it was meant to keep the door open to a potential spin-off for Reynolds's and Biel's characters, two still galleries featuring the weapons from the film and the visual effects, and some DVD-ROM content for a PC.
I cannot recommend Blade: Trinity unless you're a huge fan of the series. Why Goyer, who wrote all three films, would save the worst script for his directing debut is beyond me. The good news is that New Line has put forth a lot of effort into this set, which means we shouldn't see any double dipping until late 2007.
I can't say this Blade is a cut above anything but mediocre, and even that may be too much praise.
Review content copyright © 2005 Patrick Naugle; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: New Line
* 2.35:1 Anamorphic
* DTS 6.1 ES (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 123 Minutes
Release Year: 2004
MPAA Rating: Unrated
* Unrated Version of the Film
* Two Commentary Tracks
* "Daywalkers, Nightstalkers & Familiars: Inside the World of Blade: Trinity" Documentary
* Blooper Reel
* Two Still Galleries
* Alternate Ending
* "Goyer on Goyer: The Writer Interviews The Director" Featurette
* DVD-ROM Content
* Official Site