[box cover]

Blade: Trinity

Blade: Trinity (2004) opens with a voiceover by Ryan Reynolds — one of the film's supporting actors — as we see a helicopter full of vampires fly across the desert to wake up Dracula. During his little speech, Reynolds says something strange: "It started with Blade, and it ended with him, and the rest of us are just along for the ride." At this point, fans of the Blade series — Marvel's mid-list vampire-hunter franchise — should have a few questions:

  1. Who's talking here, and why isn't it "Blade" star Wesley Snipes?
  2. Who, exactly, are "the rest of us"?
  3. Why are we being reassured that the story's about Blade? This is a "Blade" movie, after all. Isn't it?

Actually, not so much. Look no further than Reynolds' voiceover for today's textbook definition of "irony." The third (and likely final) installment in the Blade series has a surprising number of problems — dire scripting, sloppy plotting, and coffee-jittery editing, for starters. But its biggest problem is that Blade himself takes a back seat to a host of new and mostly uninteresting characters. (In fact, the spin-off characters are mentioned in a lawsuit brought by Snipes against New Line Cinema.) The least interesting character of all is Dracula. When the vampires (led by Parker Posey and her mouthful of ill-fitting fangs) first unearth "Drake" in the desert, he looks more than a little like Skeletor from "He-Man" — but the realities of the special-effects budget mean he quickly morphs into the stunningly bland Dominic Purcell, a crewcut Everyhunk who looks for all the world like he's playing a Navy SEAL dressed up as a Eurotrash Goth for Halloween. It's one of the year's most spectacular bits of miscasting. Incredibly, it's also one of the movie's minor sins. The idea of pitting Blade against Dracula isn't a bad one, necessarily, but writer-director David S. Goyer buries it under three films' worth of subplots — quickly writing Whistler (Kris Kristofferson) out of the film and introducing the Nightstalkers, a competing team of vampire-hunters led by Reynolds and Jessica Biel. Goyer then proceeds to hand the story to these comely white interlopers — allowing Reynolds to steal the movie with relentless Jason Lee-lite wisecracks and giving Biel the coolest weapons (plus, ridiculously, iPod earbuds to wear while fighting). Throw in action geography that would confuse an Eastern European mapmaker, plus subplots about vampire-killing viruses, police corruption, and endangered children, and presto — we have a sequel where Blade is all but forgotten in his own franchise. (There is, however, a mildly funny bit with a vampire Pomeranian. That's right — a tiny, fluffy, bloodsucking dog.) The first Blade was a tidy blend of urban kung-fu and vampire style; Blade II added epic scope, some fine splatter, exceptional Wesley-fu, and a villainous Ron Perlman. Both films were also written by Goyer; why for the love of St. Nicholas did he save the series' worst script for his directorial debut?

*          *          *

New Line's two-disc Platinum Series release of Blade Trinity sports a very good anamorphic transfer (2.35:1) with booming Dolby Digital EX 5.1 and DTS 6.1 audio, as well as Dolby 2.0 Surround. The DVD also includes an alternate "unrated version" that extends the film's running time by about ten minutes. Supplements on Disc One include a commentary from writer/director/producer David S. Goyer, who's joined by stars Ryan Reynolds and Jessica Biel, while a second track features Goyer and members of his production crew. Disc One also includes DVD-ROM content, while extras on Disc Two include the feature-length documentary "Inside the World of Blade Trinity" (1 hour 46 min.), the brief, too pretentious "Goyer on Goyer," in which the writer/director interviews himself (5 min.), an alternate ending (1 min.), an outtakes reel (10 min.), two stills galleries ("Visual Effects Progressions" and "Weapons"), two trailers, and additional DVD-ROM content. Dual-DVD slimline keep-case.
M.E. Russell

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