Blade: Trinity (review)

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A Helluva Thing

Reason No. 143,854 why invading Iraq was a bad idea: It woke up the “patriarch” of all vampires, who was slumbering in the desert, and boy is he pissed.

Or maybe it was the Syrian desert. The subtitle in the beginning of the film, at Dracula’s wake-up call, says THE SYRIAN DESERT, but then later the “hip” wise-cracking vampire hunter played by the uncannily bland Ryan Reynolds says Dracula was awakened in Iraq. Then again, not a word passes the lips of the Reynolds character that isn’t supposed to be some kind of “joke” or wisecrack or attempt at bitter, cynical, GenX humor, so maybe the Iraq thing is just a joke that misfires, like all the other jokes in the film.
I’m not sure which would be worse: a movie in which you couldn’t trust the subtitles, or a movie with Ryan Reynolds.

Oh, and the original vampire really is called Dracula — and also Drake, when “Dracula” sounds too silly, I guess — and half the time he looks like one of those Predator aliens that Arnold Schwarzengger fought, with the jaws and the dreadlocks and all, and half the time he looks like a Eurotrash Henry Rollins, with the bulging muscles and the leather pants. Drake (Dominic Purcell: Mission: Impossible 2) was “born perfect,” which the leather pants would seem to belie, and has all sorts of intriguing demonic powers like shapeshifting, and yet is still no match for a mere pseudo-vampiric dude like Blade who has no problem walking in the sun but has a mean Eddie Munster widow’s peak and craves regular meals of blood.

That’s a major problem with movies like Blade: Trinity: it’s the latest in a series that’s about little more than blowing away bad guys in ways never before committed to film, and if the bad guys and their deaths aren’t bigger and badder than the last time around, no one will care (not that we do anyway). But when you inoculate your viewers like this and keep upping the ante, eventually you run into a brick wall: even the Star Trek movies had only gotten to number 5 before they were apparently going up against God Almighty himself… and beating him. If the patriarch of all vampires just ain’t that tough, it’s time to pack it in. In fact, it was time to pack it in before we were subjected to this movie. Since this is not possible, we can only hope that Blade 4 does not feature vampire Jesus. Though how could it not?

Writer/director David S. Goyer — I know: you’re saying “Who?” — might realize this, if the attempts at comedy are any indication that something new was needed. Unfortunately, this manifested itself in the additions, to Blade’s team, of Reynolds’s (Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle) boring-as-toast character — whose name, the press notes tell me, is Hannibal King, though I cannot recall this actually being mentioned in the film — and the remarkably generic Jessica Biel (Cellular, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre) as Abigail Whistler, the apparently estranged or maybe even dead daughter of Blade’s sidekick Abraham (Kris Kristofferson: Silver City, Planet of the Apes) — didn’t Whistler’s family get killed in one of the other films? Or maybe he just said they were dead? Anyway, Hannibal and Abigail are so cool that he just never shuts up with the running “humorous” commentary and she listens to her iPod while hunting bad guys. You’d think she’d need her ears to hear if, you know, a bloodsucker might be coming at her from behind, but there’s no product placement in that. Besides, everyone wears their iPods when they exercise, right? The casual enjoyment of their bloodsucker-killing sprees turns vigilantism into something of no greater consequence than an intense workout. Even when they’re killing random innocent cops or FBI agents who happen to get in their way.

“People will be surprised at how funny this movie is,” Goyer believes. I think that comment is pretty much the funniest thing about the film. Unless it’s when Goyer compares Blade (Wesley Snipes: Undisputed) to the Clint Eastwood character in Unforgiven. But probably, Clint Eastwood’s character in Unforgiven would be horrified at Goyer’s cranking up of an aspect of the Blade series that was already over the top: the fetishized violence and cinematic lovemaking to guns, blades, and bullets. Goyer’s one really original concept here is that, hey, the bow and arrow can be a way-cool bringer of mayhem, too. It’s a hell of a thing…

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