Saturday, 30 March 2013

Blade (1998)

I must admit that the reason I got the Blade trilogy boxed set is that I was most interested in seeing Guillermo del Toro's Blade 2.  I hope it was worth it, because Blade isn't really.  Actually there are several things to like, it's just that the overall result is a bit meh.

Wesley Snipes is good as Blade, he is able to do the martial arts required, able to be gruff and deliver his aggressive lines well; well some times.  Actually Blade is rather like a terminator; he seems to be fairly indestructible and is belligerently violent and aggressive, which admittedly does take any tension out of the film.  I thought Kris Kristofferson was ok as Whistler, though I'm sure there are plenty actors who could do just as good a job.  The same goes for Stephen Dorff who is Deacon Frost, the main antagonist; he's a fairly unconvincing bad guy.

The story itself is well paced; it sets up Blade's character well at the beginning and waits until a natural break in proceedings to give us more background; which leads to a surprise near the end.  This is all thanks to David S Goyer's writing, this is the guy who is half responsible for giving us the story behind the superb Dark Knight trilogy.  He also wrote the story for the next two Blade films, so there should be some consistency between them at least.

However, I'm not sure if he's responsible for one of the things that bugs me about the film, and that's the inconsistencies there seems to be with vampire lore.  Why is silver important, isn't that werewolves?  The pure-blood vampire, Dragonetti, (the head of a vampire "family") starts to smoke when he's taken to watch the sun rise even before he's been stripped, yet all the others are fine wearing biker gear.  Then Frost happily talks to Blade in the middle of a sunny day because he's wearing sunblock!  On his eyeballs too?  I don't know if this is lore from the comics, but it just looked sloppy and inconsistent in the film.

The main problem though is Stephen Norrington’s direction.  It is uninspiring, and unimaginative; he just generally seems to point the camera, and it’s usually static.  Given what's generally happening on screen he could have been been much more dynamic; the initial reveal of Blade could have been so much better; and given that the chamber for creating the blood god is a tall cylinder, so much more could have been done with sweeping, diving camera moves.  With a little more imagination this could have been a very slick movie.  That being said, I did like the speeded up nightfall and the sharp shadows cast on the skyscrapers, I thought that was very effective.

When you consider that The Matrix came out the following year, there are some particularly ropey special effects towards the end with some blatantly computer generated blood.  Though I did really like the way the vampires all died by turning to cinders and skeletonising.  For all my slagging, Blade is a watchable film, I just feel with a better cast (Underworld managed to get Bill Nighy and Derek Jacobi for goodness sake!) and some more inventive direction, it could have been very cool.