Vampire hunter Blade gets new allies to take on a resurrected Dracula.
Directed by David S. Goyer
Starring Wesley Snipes, Jessica Biel, and Ryan Reynolds
Review by Jon Kissel
Superhero franchises in the early 21st century could not seem to make their third entries work. Spider-Man 3 was overstuffed and cringey while X-Men 3 turned to hackiest hack Brett Ratner. Blade Trinity fits squarely within that pattern but worse, as it’s a film enslaved to current trends in blockbuster movies and music with an eye toward future sequels and a lack of any motivating factor beyond the quest for more money. The two earlier Blade films at least had a minimal amount of underlying drama, whereas this is all meaningless snark and commerce. Blade Trinity exists for the funny behind-the-scenes nonsense, at least if Patton Oswalt is to be believed, and that’s about all the entertainment value provided by this pathetic limp to the end credits.
Blade might’ve kicked off the superhero movie craze, but it didn’t take long for its sequel to trade inspiration for imitation. Blade 2, directed by Guillermo Del Toro, sticks with the characters and tone of the original while heavily incorporating the style of The Matrix and Del Toro’s particular affinity for creature effects and body horror. It also is a classic sequel with all the expected advancements, like a deadlier enemy, a deeper world, and a larger cast of distinctive characters. This is a film whose strong reputation doesn’t justify the actual result, especially with how derivative so much of it is, but it does mark Del Toro’s emergence as a singular sculptor of weird appendages and an acolyte of Ray Harryhausen and David Cronenberg. The best result from Blade 2 is that it allowed Del Toro to level up his own career and make films better than this solid and silly entrée into future passion projects.
Oddly important despite the presence of a monstrously obese archivist vampire, Blade is both a throwback and a harbinger. After the inter-species love of Howard the Duck and the license-preserving Fantastic Four of the early 90’s, Blade is the first earnest attempt at a movie based on a Marvel Comics character and its success would greenlight the X-Men, Spider-Man, and the big screen TV show that is the MCU, though the latter now also requires small-screen participation to stay up on everything. It’s also rich that first-out-of-the-gate Blade features a Black lead, a feat that would be recreated only twice in the ensuing 23 years. The culture moving backward in terms of onscreen representation is more galling due to the fact that Blade was both successful and pretty good as an action/horror flick. Stephen Norrington’s subpar and sparse career as a director notwithstanding, Blade provides a good deal of dumb fun.
Of the major animation studios, Sony has consistently been the one with the most commitment to verifying an adult’s suspicion that children’s attention spans have dwindled to nothing. The colors are the brightest in Trolls, the voices are the most over-the-top in Hotel Transylvania. Even in their most successful outings like Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs and Into the Spiderverse, the level of content packed into the frame dwarfs Sony’s rivals at Pixar or Dreamworks. The Mitchells vs the Machines is the culmination of a decade-plus of a seizure-inducing animated aesthetic, but like Spiderverse, it provides a rationale for that aesthetic in the story or the characters. It’s also a harbinger of the TikTok-ification of movies, something that will be abused by worse filmmakers than clearly passionate director/writer/co-star Mike Rianda. The Mitchells vs the Machines does its best to keep this tech-averse viewer at arm’s length, but between the live-action cutaways and filter-dependent gags, Rianda has a full grasp of who his eccentric characters are at their core.
Chris Rock’s famous joke about his neighbors, wherein he lived next door to Shaq, Mary J. Blige, and a white dentist, has that crystal-clear quality one wants in an observation. It illuminates so much about minority achievement and how far a group has to go, such that real equality is achieved when members of the group don’t have to be the greatest artist or athlete of their generation to live in a wealthy neighborhood. The allowance of mediocrity providing wealth and comfort while not reflecting badly on the larger group is a good sign, which brings us to Night in Paradise. While its existence is good for South Korean cinema, this white dentist equivalent of a movie does no one any favors in a vacuum. Park Hoon-jung’s empty time waster of a gangster film proves that there’s room in this cinematic corner of the world for unimaginative garbage, and said garbage isn’t going to drag down the great South Korean directors. Equality unlocked!
JUST SOME IDIOTS GIVING SURPRISINGLY AVERAGE MOVIE REVIEWS.
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