Vampire action series still alive and kicking
By Devin D. O'Leary
Directed by David S. Goyer
Cast: Wesley Snipes, Jessica Biel, Ryan Reynolds
While it would seem that the Christmas holiday is an odd time to release a full-tilt horror film, it could be chalked up to clever counterprogramming on the part of some opportunistic Hollywood executive. Plus, with The Polar Express still hovering around the holiday box office, Blade: Trinity doesn't even count as the creepiest film in theaters right now.
The third film in the rather successful Blade series reintroduces us to the never-ending crusade of half-breed vampire hunter Blade and provides yet another paycheck for star Wesley Snipes. Considering Snipes' non-Blade output in the last six years (Liberty Stands Still, ZigZag, Disappearing Acts, Unstoppable ringing any bells for anyone?), Snipes had better hope there's a little blood left in the franchise.
Blade, based on the little-known Marvel Comics character of the same name, has carved itself a small but comfortable niche by mixing bloody vampire horror with sword-swinging martial arts action. Blade: Trinity does little to muck with the formula.
This time around, the vampire clans are pretty much fed up with fighting off their mortal enemy Blade. They frame him for the murder of a human, kill off his mentor Whistler (Kris Kristofferson) and, as if that weren't enough, resurrect Dracula (Dominic Purcell of the short-lived series “John Doe”) to do some major damage.
Fortunately for Blade (not to mention the future of the franchise), our hero soon meets up with a new bunch of vampire-busting sidekicks. There's the wisecracking “former vampire” Hannibal King (Ryan Reynolds from Van Wilder), there's Whistler's long-lost (and, naturally, butt-kicking) daughter Abigail (Jessica Beil of “7th Heaven” fame) and a bunch of other people who are around more or less as vampire bait (which you can largely assume from the “Trinity” title). Snipes glowers, Reynolds acts incredibly snarky (injecting some much-needed humor into the series) and Beil functions as tightlipped window dressing. Parker Posey, apparently dumping her indie it-girl status for B-movie camp, shows up as a vampire baddie and gnaws her way through the scenery like a hungry beaver. Oddly enough, it's pro wrestler Triple H, posing as a vampiric bruiser who captures the best compromise between stone-faced seriousness and campy humor.
The techno music blares, Wesley Snipes flips around a lot and blood flows freely. Blade: Trinity accomplishes its mission to entertain and deafen with a minimum of fuss. The action is kinetic as all get-out, but feels a bit shopworn after three far more expensive techno-and-kung-fu-overdosed episodes of The Matrix. Screenwriter David S. Goyer takes over the directing reins and does a workmanlike job, even though his style feels a bit shallow in the wake of master imagineer Guillermo Del Toro (Blade II). With Blade: Trinity feels a bit like a high school dance: Everyone spends most of their time standing around trying to look cool. Sporting their shiny blue/black leather duds and dark, dark shades, this gang strikes more poses than the cast of “America's Next Top Model.”
In the end, Blade: Trinity can't help but feel a bit familiar. Watching endless bad guys get kicked through endless floor-to-ceiling windows, one does begin to wonder if vampires are required by some supernatural law to hole up in plate glass window factories. Still, for fans of the series, Blade: Trinity delivers on all the things that brought fans to the first two outings. If you want to see Wesley Snipes kick a vampire in the face and then strike a pose, this is pretty much your best bet this Christmas.
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