Blade: Trinity Review

One of Hollywood's better action franchises takes a tumble with Blade: Trinity, a disappointing third outing for Marvel Comics' vampire-hunting vigilante. This is a by-the-numbers blockbuster that lacks the energy and originality of Stephen Norrington's first film and displays little of the style or invention of Guillermo Del Toro's superior sequel. Ironically, last year's Blade knock-off Underworld was a much better Blade movie than this.

The blame must rest with David S Goyer, who has written all three of the trilogy (as well as Dark City and the forthcoming Batman Begins) and also directs this one. As a writer, he seems bored with the series. His script this time is thin, uninspired and all too obviously an excuse for the action scenes. Worse, as a director, Goyer is just another anonymous Hollywood hack who churns out loud, flashy fights and chases that you've seen countless times before, set against dull, grey locations. He's not even a competent hack. There are moments in the fight sequences where you can see quite clearly that the actors are stage-fighting and faking their blows, an unforgivable slip-up in an expensive studio production.

In case you haven't been following the saga, Blade (Wesley Snipes) is a half-human, half-vampire superhero who fights a lonely, vengeful battle against the secret vampire underworld that exists beneath the surface of our society. Together with Whistler (Kris Kristofferson), his sidekick, father figure and one-man pit crew, he hunts and kills the bloodsuckers and their treacherous human "familiars". As this movie begins, the vampires have finally gained the upper hand, tricking Blade into leaving a staked human body behind and placing him on the FBI's most wanted list. The vampires want him out of the way because they've succeeded in tracking down the resting place of the first of their kind, none other than Dracula himself (Dominic Purcell). This isn't the Dracula Bram Stoker wrote about but an ancient warrior king whose legend inspired the stories. He's resurrected by the malevolent vampire leader Danica Talos (Parker Posey) and recruited to play a part in her plan for domination of the human world.

To help him escape the cops and foil Danica's plans, Blade is forced to take on some new allies - a secret resistance cell called the Nightstalkers, who fight the same war as Blade does but without his superpowers. The group includes the wisecracking Hannibal King (Ryan Reynolds), Whistler's babe of a daughter Abigail (Jessica Biel), blind science whiz Sommerfield (Natasha Lyonne) and the obligatory techie geek who is somehow able to supply his comrades with laser weapons straight out of Star Wars.

Since the script thinks we should care about what happens to the Nightstalkers, we ought to have been given more of a chance to get to know them but only Jessica Biel and Ryan Reynolds get any real screen time. Together with Wesley Snipes, they form the Trinity of the title so I guess if this film does well, we'll be seeing them in any further sequels. Biel does the kick-ass action-chick stuff convincingly enough but the script's attempts to flesh Abigail out by making her regret her direction in life fall flat. Her lost little girl routine just doesn't gel with her Lara Croft heroics. Although Biel is a gifted actress (check her out as Shannyn Sossamon's roommate in The Rules Of Attraction), she can do little with such a poorly conceived character.

Ryan Reynolds on the other hand gets a great role and he's the best thing in the film. Hannibal King is the bitchiest male hero in action movie history and this is a star-making part for the young actor who is so far best known for playing the annoyingly smarmy Van Wilder. Here he's a scream. In fact his dialogue is so much better than everyone else's that I wonder how much of it was improvised. Reynolds is also the only one of the Trinity who seems vulnerable in the action scenes, which makes him a sympathetic hero while the more indestuctible Snipes and Biel come off as video game figures. Someone ought to take a gamble on him and give him his own action movie. I also liked Parker Posey as the chain-smoking, tart-talking vampire villainess. Her interrogation of Ryan Reynolds is the film's best scene and, as a bonus, it contains a priceless gag involving a cute little dog which pays off later with an even funnier moment. I don't know if jokes like that fit comfortably into the Blade mythos but I was grateful for the laughs.

As the ultimate enemy for Blade, Dracula is a dead loss. This is the original vampire, an ancient monster who stalked the earth for millennia and is presumably the most fearsome being imaginable, yet he never comes across onscreen as anything more than a glowering muscleman and the most fearsome thing he does is kill a couple of goths. When we learn the reason he's lain dormant for centuries - that he became disgusted with humanity's lack of honour and its failure to "live by the sword" - he sounds like a schoolboy who's gone home in a sulk and taken his ball with him. It doesn't help that British actor Dominic Purcell, who plays Dracula in human form, looks like a pumped-up Colin Farrell and wears a strange-looking jumper with a ripped-out collar and a medallion that frankly makes him look gay. It gets worse when he morphs into a monster at the end and it resembles a computerised version of Tim Curry's Darkness from the movie Legend.

As for the vampires' dreadful plans for humanity, aren't they roughly the same as Stephen Dorff's dreadful plans for us in the first film? And not a million miles removed from the machines' plans for us in the Matrix pictures? We don't see much of the Vampire Nation this time either. One of the series' assets has been its concept of this powerful, sinister organisation - a kind of vampire Illuminati moving in the shadows of the human world and pulling our strings. This time we hear talk of it but all we see are Danica, her small band of thugs and the usual faceless henchvampires. When characters keep insisting that the humans are losing the battle, you might wonder to what?

Blade is Blade, for better or worse. Wesley Snipes snarls and hisses his way through the film like he's done twice before but his lack of a personality is more obvious in the company of stronger characters like Hannibal. Blade seems oddly detached from the plot - the best scenes and moments go to his co-stars - and Snipes gives the impression that he's just going through the motions, slaughtering vampires by the dozen because, well, that's what Blade does.

Overall

5

out of 10

Last updated: 03/05/2018 06:29:43

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