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Blade: Trinity (2004) A Movie Review by James Mudge

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Cast/Crew

 

director

David S. Goyer

 

script

David S. Goyer

 

cinematography

Gabriel Beristain

 

cast list

Wesley Snipes .... Blade
Kris Kristofferson .... Abraham Whistler
Dominic Purcell .... Drake
Jessica Biel .... Abigail Whistler
Ryan Reynolds .... Hannibal King
Parker Posey .... Danica Talos

or the third and ostensibly final entry in the Marvel comics based "Blade" franchise, New Line handed the directorial reigns over to series scribe David Goyer. Having penned the two previous installments, as well as a variety of other genre films (including the upcoming "Batman Begins"), Goyer would seem to be a fairly logical, and relatively risk free choice, especially since he was again to be working from his own script. Unfortunately in this case the route of least resistance turns out to be one which yields little reward, as "Blade Trinity", whilst not actually a bad film as such, is easily the weakest in the trilogy, and which provides a disappointing and limp finale to what has been one of the more enjoyable action/horror hybrid series to have come out of Hollywood in recent years.

 

The big surprise here is that the film's failure is not so much because of Goyer's direction as much as it's his writing, which is incredibly pedestrian, and lacking in any ambition or innovation. Instead of capitalising upon the characters and scenarios that he himself has built up in the previous films, Goyer seems quite inexplicably content to remove any depth or intrigue, replacing them instead with generic action sequences and tired wisecracking. Along with Goyer's lacklustre, music-video style direction, this adds up to a film which is decidedly underwhelming, and which seems to be rather self consciously going through the motions rather than attempting to advance the series or at least give it a fitting conclusion.

The plot begins with a group of vampires resurrecting Dracula, referred to as 'Drake' (played by the stunningly uncharismatic TV actor Dominic Purcell ("John Doe")) as part of some 'final solution'-type scheme aimed at giving them world domination. At the same time, they move against their nemesis, Blade (Wesley Snipes) by tricking him into killing a human and thus making him a target for the police and FBI. Captured and helpless, all seems lost for the plucky vampire killer, when he is unexpectedly rescued by 'The Nightstalkers', an equally plucky group of young slayers, led by Hannibal King (Ryan Reynolds, in the new version of "Amityville") and Abigail Whistler (Jessica Biel, from the recent "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" remake), the daughter of Blade's friend and mentor, Whistler. Together, the trio does battle against the supposedly all-powerful Drake, whilst trying to develop their own apocalyptic weapon which will stem the vampire tide once and for all.

The main problem with Goyer's script, as can be seen from the above synopsis, is that it is an obvious step back, in much the same way that "Alien 3" suffered after "Aliens". After seeing Blade battle hordes of vampiric half-breeds in Guillermo Del Toro's "Blade 2", it is simply very difficult to feel any kind of enthusiasm about seeing Blade take on a single foe. Goyer makes things worse by refusing to flesh out Drake's character or give us any demonstration of his powers or so-called legendary evil. During the course of the film, Drake actually does very little, and in fact seems remarkably unenthusiastic about the whole affair, only joining in the action at the climax.

As a villain, Drake is an absolute failure, with no sense of menace, no real gimmicks, or indeed anything which sets him apart from the hordes of lesser vampires which Blade slices through like a leather clad lawnmower. This lack of a convincing central villain hamstrings the film badly, and though Goyer does keep things fast paced and full of action, he spends far too much time with the young vampire hunters, in what seems to be an obvious attempt to kick start a spin off franchise. Unfortunately, although Goyer gives Abigail and King plenty of screen time, he does very little with them beyond drowning any dark edge the film may have had in a tide of bad jokes and excruciatingly dull character inter-relationships. Neither Reynolds nor Biel manages to rise above the lame material, and as a result the viewer quickly grows bored with their antics.

As such, the film only comes to life when it focuses on Blade. The problem with this is that Goyer makes no attempt to add anything new to the Blade character, a fact that the writer/director himself seems to be aware of through his constant references to Blade as a 'weapon' or a 'tool'. Whilst Snipes certainly gets to put his character through a fair amount of action, perhaps even more than previously, we learn nothing new about his motivations or inner workings, and as a result it is very hard to care about what actually happens to him.

In fact, Goyer makes very little effort not only with the characters, but also with the actual plot itself. He reuses many scenes from the previous two films, and makes no attempt to give the feeling that things are moving towards any kind of endgame. Indeed, the film at no point displays any of the tension or desperate excitement that should surely be expected in the final part of a trilogy. The lack of inspiration is all too obvious, and after a very short period the viewer is depressed and very aware that the film is going nowhere fast.

To be fair, there are a few good things to be said about "Blade: Trinity". Though Goyer's direction is depressing in its anonymity, he does include a lot of action, and as such the film is never actually dull. Borrowing in equal measures from the directors who have gone before him, Goyer manages to replicate some of the excitement of the preceding films, and adds a few interesting innovations to the formula. The downside to this is that he eschews the visceral feel of the other films, and the proceedings, though fairly violent, are anemic and lacking in the gore that would certainly have livened things up to some degree. Instead, Goyer keeps things loud and flashy, and tries to generate some kind of impact through the usual fast cutting and loud techno music, in a fashion which became tired a good few years ago.

This really sums "Blade: Trinity" up quite well, as it performs reasonably, whilst offering viewers a rather bloodless and uninspired retread of the previous films. Though unlikely to actually offend, it certainly disappoints, and through falling back on a plot that could have been borrowed from "Buffy the Vampire Slayer", and a villain that lacks any kind of enthusiasm or threat, it sadly ends the series with a pitiful whimper rather than a bloody bang.

 

Movie Grade: 2/5

December 13, 2004


 

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