Three's a Crowd
The vampire underworld is in turmoil. Control of humanity has suddenly shifted back to the fangs and claws of the vampires. Blade (Wesley Snipes), a sword-wielding Daywalker and the only hope for grabbing the advantage away from the undead bloodsuckers, is framed in a series of vicious murders. Now forced to join the Nightstalkers, a legion of vampire hunters led by Hannibal King (Ryan Reynolds) and Abraham Whistler (Kris Kristofferson), Blade slashes his way to the top of the vampire bloodline -- directly to Dracula (Dominic Purcell) himself.
So goes the story in Blade: Trinity, the third and hopefully final installment of the Blade series. David S. Goyer, writer of all three chapters, takes the helm for his directorial debut in hopes of reconstituting the success of the series and showing why audiences can't get enough of the half-vampire, half-human. Goyer maintains the dark, murky atmosphere of the first two installments with sets that are bathed in an appropriately gothic ambiance. Even the daylight scenes have a stark, highly posterized style to them. As a writer, it's clear that Goyer favors the anti-hero, as Blade is a dark and menacing character that possesses hero status despite his own nastiness and internal conflicts.
Much as is the case with classic sci-fi from the 50s and 60s, the foundation of ensuring that films like Blade meet success is solid storytelling. But unfortunately, the lack of an interesting story is Trinity's weakest link. I can forgive poor special effects, choppy editing, uninteresting side plots, and wooden acting, but there is absolutely no excuse for Blade's neglect of anything that resembles an original, absorbing tale. Its hokey dialogue does provide a few laughs, but unfortunately we laugh at the wrong moments.
In all fairness, Blade:Trinity isn't without any redeemable qualities. The wit and comedic delivery of Ryan Reynolds as Hannibal King, the leader of the Nightstalkers, was just what the doctor ordered in an otherwise complete absence of memorable characters. Many of his quips and zingers are actually quite funny and seem to come at the right moments. And of course the physical beauty of Jessica Biel as Abigail Whistler, another member of the famed vampire hunters, is always pleasant on the eyes and even had me convinced to take up archery at one moment.
One particular scene shows a bit of promise, but ends up as a missed opportunity rather than a memorable movie moment. As Dracula prowls the streets searching for Blade, he happens upon a local Goth merchandise retail establishment in which the clerks eat Count Chocula cereal and more closely resemble a vampire than does Drake. Many potential reversed-identity jokes go uncracked leaving us wondering if perhaps something was left on the cutting room floor.
Any thoughts that Wesley Snipes might be able to use Blade: Trinity as a springboard for a career revival can be buried right now. As the hybrid vampire, Snipes more closely resembles a character in a Play Station video game than he does a movie hero. I realize his character is not created to win any acting awards, but even his fighting scenes lacked pizzazz and never showed us anything new. The camera was way too close to the action to get any sense of visual cohesion and the poor editing did nothing but confuse the situation.
I thought for sure we had all learned a lesson from the colossal misfortune of Van Helsing -- that extravagant special effects and grand-scale fighting scenes will never replace the value of good storytelling (no matter how cool the monsters look). But just as Van Helsing leaves us over-stimulated and under-entertained, so does Blade: Trinity.
(Released by New Line Cinema and rated "R" for strong pervasive violence and language, and some sexual content.)
Review also posted on www.franksreelreviews.com.