Cinema Psycho

"You know what? You have a losing personality." – Manhattan

Blade: Trinity

Posted by CinemaPsycho on December 10, 2004

Directed and written by David S. Goyer/starring Wesley Snipes, Kris Kristofferson, Jessica Biel, Ryan Reynolds, Parker Posey, Dominic Purcell/New Line Cinema

Vampire hunter Blade teams up with a new group of slayers called the Nightstalkers to battle bloodsuckers including the one and only Dracula. You heard me.

There comes a point in any series of films where the possibilities are exhausted. Repetition sets in, and the characters and situations we once greatly enjoyed become dull and tiresome. Simply put, this phenomenon can be labeled “one sequel too many”. When this takes place, rest assured that whatever studio is involved will continue to churn out more and more sequels until they’re absolutely sure we’re really, really sick of them.

Blade: Trinity has just about reached that point of saturation. Although it’s not a total disaster, it proves that this series pretty much has nowhere else to go from here. That means we can probably expect three or four more of them within the next decade.

And this is coming from someone who greatly enjoyed the first two entries in the series. New Line, Marvel, Mr. Snipes…that’s enough. You’ve done all you can do with this character. Let’s hang it up now before it gets embarrassing.

Compared to most of the movies in the recent action/horror subgenre, Trinity is not a bad film at all. It just doesn’t live up to the high standards of the previous films. You never really feel like you’re seeing something you haven’t seen before. It plays more like a decent straight-to-video sequel than a big-budget franchise entry.

I think a large part of the problem is the hiring of Goyer as director. He’s written all three of the films, and normally I’m all for letting screenwriters direct. If anyone knows these movies inside and out, it’s Goyer. But the previous Blade movies had slick visual stylists in the driver’s seat, using all the tricks they had up their sleeves to propel the story along. Goyer seems content to merely repeat what the others did, without bringing anything new and interesting to the table. Trinity suffers as a result.

Every potentially striking visual seems cribbed from the previous Blade films. There’s the dark cinematography and sped-up editing from Stephen Norrington’s original. There’s the “ash” effects and alien-like creature mouths from Guillermo Del Toro’s awesome sequel. Goyer doesn’t add anything new, and everything feels like a pale imitation of what’s come before. Seriously, after seeing about 150 vampires get “turned to ash” by Blade and his compatriots (such a cool effect at the beginning of Blade 2), you just want to scream, “OK, what else you got?” How many times are we supposed to be impressed by the exact same effect? It just gets numbing, like the last hour of Matrix Revolutions. Enough already.

It doesn’t really help matters that most of the movie looks like it was shot in the same style as Charles Bronson’s ‘80’s movies for Cannon Films. Seriously, I think they used that same boat-hideout set in an old episode of Simon & Simon. Lame effects, cheap-looking sets, hazy photography – where’d all the damn money go?

The lack of visual coolness only serves to remind us how ridiculous the story is. Once again, Blade has to fight the vampires, who try to get rid of him so they can carry out their latest nefarious plot to take over the world…(yawn). This time the plan is to bring back the “original vampire” (did Goyer not see Underworld?) who is supposed to lead them towards a vampire holocaust. This would be Dracula – at least that’s “one of the names he’s known by”. Right, whatever. Coincidentally, the Nightstalkers are working on a serum to wipe out the vampires, which just happens to need Dracula’s blood in order to work. Good thing they resurrected him, huh?

Unfortunately, Dracula (played by Purcell) seems more interested in toying with Blade, saying nasty things to a little girl and generally preening like a Eurotrash douchebag than in actually leading a vampire Armageddon. OK, Dracula can take any human form – why would he choose a form that looks like Michael “Eddie and the Cruisers” Pare with slicked back hair dressed like one of the “wild and crazy guys” from early SNL? You know, if I could choose any form I wanted, I wouldn’t choose one from 1973. Maybe that’s just me. His real form is much cooler, though eerily reminiscent of Tim Curry’s creature from Legend. (There is one cool scene where he goes into a “Goth” clothing store, though one has to wonder why the mighty and powerful Dracula would even bother with these vampire-loving freaks. Hey, aren’t they kinda the target audience for a movie like this? Go ahead, bite the hand that feeds you. Please.)

The movie is pretty much stolen (without much effort) by the Nightstalkers, a group of vampire hunters who seemingly come out of nowhere to help out Blade when his mentor Whistler (Kristofferson) dies on him (that’s hardly a spoiler, the guy dies in every damn Blade movie). They’re led by Whistler’s daughter “out of wedlock”, who we’ve never heard of before, and the fact that she’s his daughter doesn’t mean anything in the context of the movie, so why she had to be his daughter is a mystery. She could’ve been an orphan or a runaway he recruited off the streets for all it matters. A better question is, if Whistler had this backup team ready all along, why not let Blade in on it? What’s the point in keeping that a secret? Oh, because they’re merely a plot contrivance. Never mind.

Anyway, Whistler’s daughter is played by Jessica “hotness” Biel, upgrading a little from the Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake (don’t get me started). She’s actually quite impressive in the fight scenes, though we know virtually nothing about her character (not that this series has ever been strong on character development). Less impressive is her insistence on wearing an iPod during those fight scenes (guess the movie’s soundtrack wasn’t good enough for her, she had to create her own). Yeah, because when you’re fighting vampires, the last thing you want is to be able to hear them coming. Or unnecessary exclamations like “look out!” or “behind you!” She also happens to be handy with a bow and arrow, perfect for those close-combat situations. But rest assured, this skill will be exactly what is needed for the big climax.

Then there’s Hannibal King (Reynolds), who’s also a pretty impressive fighter, but whose real weapon is his mouth. He’s an ex-vampire who…oh, who cares. He’s the comic relief, and as much as I wanted to hate him, I have to admit the guy’s pretty damn funny here. To say that Biel and Reynolds steal the movie is giving them too much credit, since there’s practically nothing here worth stealing, and Snipes obviously doesn’t give much of a shit anymore. Reynolds gets to deliver the lines that Snipes would if Blade had any sense of humor, or any sense of anything. As cool as this character once was, the stoic act gets a little boring over the course of three movies. Biel and Reynolds may not be great actors, but they’re more interesting to watch than anything Snipes does in his wooden, taciturn performance. This stops being a Blade movie about halfway through and becomes a Nightstalkers movie, and sadly, you don’t really mind.

I particularly enjoyed watching Reynolds verbally tear into Parker Posey, who to put it bluntly, is just goddamn awful. She’s obscenely bad. Posey plays the current head of the vampire mafia as some kind of eternally bored, drugged-out Andy Warhol diva who drinks blood instead of snorting cocaine. It’s not as interesting as it sounds. She’s like the Jar-Jar Binks of the Blade series, and every frame with her in it is an abomination to mankind. How this character could ever become the leader of anything, much less a bunch of would-be badass vampires, is a complete mystery outside of a cosmic joke. It’s pretty sad to be outclassed by Stephen Dorff as a movie villain, but her screeching performance makes Dorff’s Deacon Frost in the original Blade look like brilliance approaching that of Brando in The Godfather. I don’t know what she was thinking when she made this movie, but she should have been replaced on the first day of shooting. I’ve liked her in a lot of movies, but she’s just stinking horrible here. Tara Reid could’ve done a better job in a stoned haze, that’s how terrible Parker Posey is in this movie.

There is, of course, a setup for another possible sequel, as well as a potential Nightstalkers spinoff that Goyer, Biel and Reynolds have talked about in the press. But frankly, I don’t know what else there is for any of these characters to do. Blade only exists to kill vampires. When watching him kill vampires becomes boring, it’s time to give it a rest. Eventually watching Biel and Reynolds kill vampires will get old too. None of the characters in this film do anything that makes you want to see any more of them. What else is there for us to see? Once you’ve resurrected Dracula, you’ve pretty much exhausted the possibilities. Christ, even Buffy the Vampire Slayer had more stuff going on in her life than these one-note characters. At one point Hannibal asks Blade, “you ever wonder what you would do if all the vampires were dead?” Blade apparently hasn’t given that possibility much thought, and neither has Goyer.

I guess I wouldn’t mind so much if Blade: Trinity had any sense of intensity, danger or excitement. As action-packed as it is, it never seems to fully kick into gear. There’s never that moment where you realize it’s going into “next level” territory, where Goyer kicks it up a notch or two the way Del Toro did with Blade 2. Not once was I surprised enough to go, “Holy shit, I can’t believe what I’m looking at here!” the way I did with that movie. Love it or hate it, Blade 2 definitely went bigger and shot for the moon. Trinity feels small and formulaic by comparison. It feels like a rehash, rather than a daring next step or even a logical progression. “More of the same” just doesn’t cut it anymore. Not horrible, but a genuine disappointment all the same.

** 12/10/04

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