Kris Kristofferson and Wesley Snipes in Blade II.
If Gosford Park is at one end of the movie spectrum, than surely, Blade II is at the opposite end. And while both are quite effective in their respective genres and sure to please their respective fans, Gosford Park is quite clearly a superior film. While it might seem odd to compare such obviously different films, I think you get my point.
For those unfamiliar with the character, Blade, as played by Wesley Snipes, plays a half-man, half-vampire character, who spends his days, and mostly nights, killing vampires. His curious half-breed status was brought about when his mother, while pregnant with him, was bitten by a vampire.
In this, the sequel, Blade is approached by an elite group of vampires who wish his aid in killing a new form of vampire, one that feeds, not on humans, but on other vampires. Blade, although reluctant at first, agrees, with the secret plan in mind, that if nothing else, he'll learn more about the vampires and perhaps discover some information he'll be able to use in his own hunting.
The first half of the movie is quite good. The teaming of Blade with his sworn enemies as they hunt down these 'super-vampires' is full of action and attitude. If only the second half of the movie could have kept up the concept. But sadly, it does not. It fails actually when it tries to move from premise to an actual story, with double-dealings, and betrayals. It shouldn't have bothered. This isn't a movie anyone's going to see because they want to think, it's a movie people go to see for the fight scenes.
One of the biggest problems with this movie and the original, is that it takes itself so seriously. The few moments when it goes completely over the top are it's best. Blade's sunglasses in this movie, are like Indiana Jones's hat in his movies. Once on, no matter what happens, they never come off. In one scene, Kris Kristofferson's character, Whistler, tosses Blade his sunglasses, Blade extends an arm without looking, and catches them, sliding them on before proceeding to kick vampire ass. It's such a ridiculously cool moment that for a minute you 'get' the movie, but then the characters lapse into some inane dialogue and you're pulled out of it again.
One thing I have to note is the appearance of Danny John-Jules. While not well known by main stream American audiences, he is of course quite the celebrity in British Sci-fi circles, as the Cat from Red Dwarf. What an actor from a British comedy series is doing in this action flick, I have no idea. Perhaps it was because he's one of the few actors with 'Adept at wearing fangs' on his resume, since his character of the Cat, also has them.
Another problem with this movie is it's lack of danger. There's a scene in the sewers when the super-vampires are swarming around Blade rather like the Aliens from the movie Aliens. Unlike that edge of your seat movie, however, you know that there is no way in hell, Blade is going to be hurt.
I'd say this movie was like a comic book or a video game, but most of them have better writers. Which is sad really, because the premise of this series is quite good and has potential if only as much time was spent on the script as was spent on the fight choreography.
Ron Perlman in Blade II.
The choreography was better in the first movie. This time around we have computer animation helping out the fight scenes. It does not work. It is obvious every time it is used. The first Blade movie was better and perhaps this is due to having a different director.
As Scott wrote, the real problem is in the writing. This movie makes the entire point of vampires moot. A bunch of bad guys need a good guy to help them kill a really bad guy. This plot could have been done without anyone being a vampire. It's as if the writers of this movie tried to out do the first one by having a more powerful villain. To bad they forgot how utterly interesting vampires are as villain. They did not need to expand on the vampire's powers, just concentrate on the ones they have. The writers did manage one great line. Blade notices a tattoo on someone and says, "You're human?" To which the man replies, "Barely, I am a lawyer."
Blade II is full of blood and violence. There are literally pools of blood. But blood and violence cannot make a movie great if the rest of the movie is sub par.
Photos © Copyright New Line Cinema (2002)