Blade: Trinity (2004)R

CapeHalf a capeTent

A bigger budget for the series now... particularly, a much bigger advertising budget. But the increased funds do show on screen: the special effects are pretty much flawless this time. They even achieve the Holy Grail of wire-work: making the effect of people being knocked through the air for great distances look correctly timed instead of full of lame hesitations and buoyant hovering.

And they do very well at giving both the hero and the villain a powerful aura of menace and dangerousness. This may sound like a small thing, but it’s something that action movies of this sort can live or die by. When an action movie turns laughable, it’s usually because they tried and failed in this area.

But, how good a movie is this sequel? Well, when it was done Wesley Snipes sued the studio! (Not that he’s on very high ground himself, with most of his action scenes apparently performed by a stunt double.) And critical reviews have been mainly negative, saying this is the comic-bookiest of the three Blade movies.

I was surprised, therefore, to find — and it saddens me, as an admirer of Guillermo Del Toro, to say this — that Blade: Trinity is in many ways superior to Blade II. Why? Because the characters are less one-dimensional and the story shows more sides of them, and because the action is solider, has far fewer corny moves, and is far less driven by contrived excuses (despite which, there sure is plenty of it), and because there is something faintly resembling drama at times, rather than just action and plot-machinery.

But that doesn’t make this a good film. Overall, it’s a lot more formulaic and forgettable. For instance, the plot is far less original than del Toro’s was. It concerns the reawakening of the original ancestral progenitor of the vampires, sometimes called Dracula. They incorporate Del Toro’s super-vampires here, by making the original Dracula have super-vampire mouthparts. They show the vampires doing genetic experiments aimed at reintroducing super-vampire traits. At first the regular vampires only wanted to kill the supers; now they see the original vampire as their savior, the one who can (a) revitalize their race, and (b) finally kill Blade.

The movie’s greatest weakness, though, is the gang of annoying sidekicks that Blade ends up stuck with, particularly Ryan Reynolds and Jessica Biel as a couple of martial arts weenies who are so tough that they can almost handle a vampire in unarmed combat. The vampires’ super strength tends to conveniently disappear when these two fight them. According to Snipes, the film was intended to set up these two with their own series of spinoff movies. Ain’t gonna happen, they were too lame.

(Incidentally, for fans of Ryan Reynolds with his shirt off — a group which I suppose must exist, though I personally find it hard to imagine how anyone anywhere can be a fan of Reynolds in any way — this is the role for which he first got muscled up. Before this he was more at home in sitcoms than in action movies.)

Those two also have a dork sidekick who makes weapons for them, played by none other than Patton Oswalt. And because they’re jocks they go ahead and mock the nerd whose job is to keep them from getting killed. Morons.

Oddly, in this movie Blade never once cuts anyone with the sword from which he takes his nom de guerre. He wields it only in the final showdown with Dracula, and then never gets through the guy’s guard with it! Way to go, dorks.

The “Extended” cut in the unrated DVD edition has a different ending from the theatrical cut — a better one. The theatrical ending did not make any sense, actually. The extended one, on the other hand, leaves you with a nice taste of doubt as to whether Blade is still on the side of the good guys.