Should I Watch..? 'Blade: Trinity'
What's the big deal?
Blade: Trinity is an action horror superhero film released in 2004 and is based on the Marvel comics character of the same name. Written and directed by David S. Goyer (who wrote the screenplays to both Blade and Blade II), the film sees Blade accompanied by some unusual allies to battle a resurrected Dracula who threatens the future of humanity. The film stars Wesley Snipes, Jessica Biel, Ryan Reynolds, Kris Kristofferson, Dominic Purcell, Parker Posey and wrestling superstar Triple H. Unlike the first two films in the series, the film received a negative reception from critics and is widely considered the worst entry in the series, despite global takings broadly in line with the earlier movies at $128 million. After a short-lived TV series in 2006, the rights to the character reverted back to Marvel in 2011 who have yet to introduce the character into their cinematic universe, the MCU.
What's it about?
While a team of vampires locate the last resting place of the first vampire Dracula in the Syrian desert, human-vampire hybrid Blade is kept off their backs battling familiars in the US. After killing a human pretending to be a vampire, Blade realises that he has been set up and quickly hides from the authorities with his long-time weapon-smith and friend Whistler. As the FBI raid their compound, Blade sees Whistler killed and soon surrenders to the heavily-armed agents. Taken into custody, Blade is soon targeted by vampire Danica Talos and her goons who taunt Blade with talk of a vampiric "final solution".
Before they can finish Blade off once and for all, they are attacked by mysteriously vampire hunters belonging to a group called the Nightstalkers. Led by Whistler's daughter Abigail and former vampire Hannibal King, Blade finds that he has little time to prepare them for the battle to come as Talos was the one to free Dracula or Drake as he calls himself. But the Nightstalkers do have a final solution of their own - an experiemental bioweapon capable of destroying all vampires, even possibly Blade himself. All it needs to work is a sample of Drake's blood...
Eric Brooks / Blade
Drake / Dracula
FBI Agent Ray Cumberland
David S. Goyer
David S. Goyer*
Release Date (UK)
8th December, 2004
Action, Horror, Superhero
What's to like?
Assuming that you enjoying the first two films then I presume you enjoy the sight of Snipes in the now-familiar costume (no pun intended) taking out the vampiric trash. Of course, he now has some fun with the likes of Reynolds' prototype-Deadpool role and Biel's underwhelming woman of action. The action is ok but it's disheartening to see how easily vampires dissolve into a cloud of fiery sparks. As before, it's all set to a pulsing hip-hop soundtrack and if you're a fan of this stylish sort of hyper-action then you'll appreciate this film more than I did.
I'm afraid that even the film's most ardent supporters would struggle to defend a film that makes many mistakes. Take Reynolds' wise-cracking jock who drops a swear word into every line of dialogue like a teenager who still thinks it's funny. From the character's introduction, Reynolds fights like mad to turn the film into a comedy which is simply isn't. Blade films have always been dark, gothic and bloody affairs but this film gets the tone all wrong. It even recycles the hinge-jawed monsters from the second film so you know that this film has a chronic lack of ideas.
- Snipes grew disinterested with the project, disagreeing with both the choice of director and the script. He then refused to film certain scenes which forced Goyer to use CG and stand-ins to replace him. Patton Oswalt, who appeared as one of the Nightstalkers, accused Snipes of fighting with Goyer and smoking marijuana in his trailer - an accusation corroborated by Reynolds, who claimed that Snipes rarely spoke to the cast or crew.
- When Hannibal King is talking to Blade about the return of Dracula, he shows him a comic - Marvel's "Tomb Of Dracula", issue 55. This series marked not just the first appearance of Blade but also King himself.
- The Nightstalkers refer to their biological weapon as 'Daystar'. Coincidentally, the production company that made the William Shatner film briefly seen in the movie - Incubus - was also called Daystar.
What's not to like?
Let's start with the narrative which is uneven, incoherent and idiotic. Take the way they stop calling the main antagonist Dracula pretty quickly and go with Drake - for no discernible reason other than presumed embarrassment at pillaging Bram Stoker's cherished novel. Certainly Purcell's performance doesn't remind you of the classic Christopher Lee or Bela Lugosi appearance as the fabled fanged one. But it makes little difference as he is as underwritten as the rest of the bad guys - Posey vamps it up as Talos but we know nothing of her character so she does the best she can. At least she's acting - Triple H might come from the same wrestling school as current A-lister Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson but he's as charismatic as a paper bag and he's basically playing himself.
The other problem with forcibly inserting comedy into a bloody action film is that it wears thin pretty quickly. Anyone used to Reynolds' off-the-cuff witticism which works brilliantly in Deadpool will soon find their patience tested by the constant stream of inanity and profanity that feels about as out of place as Democrats at a rodeo. The film also suffers from poorly filmed action sequences that don't give much of an idea what's happening - ultimately, the blame lays with Goyer who hadn't really had much of a directorial career before Blade: Trinity and hasn't had much directorial success since. It's a sad end to a character who was different and more adult than most superhero films at the time as well as the all-conquering MCU. In fact, it's difficult to see how they could reintroduce the character in the same continuity as more family-friendly fare like Iron Man or Spider-Man: Homecoming.
Should I watch it?
There's no escaping the fact that Blade: Trinity is a massive disappointment, pushing the series' trademark style ahead of narrative and coherence. With Snipes distinctly off form and Goyer's inexperience as a director apparent, this disjointed and uneven entry is a sad way for the character to bow out. The first two films had an edge to them, be it the more horrific elements or the blistering action led by Snipes. But this feels diluted and more of an imitation - no wonder Snipes went into a sabbatical after this.
Great For: swearing enthusiasts, Marvel's desire to get the rights back
Not So Great For: fans of the character, fans of the earlier films, anyone expecting a half-decent horror film
What else should I watch?
With vampires being the staple monsters of cinema since Nosferatu in 1922, there are no shortage of films featuring bloodsuckers both as heroes and villains. From the classic Universal horrors like 1931's Dracula to Christopher Lee's career-defining appearance as the Count in 1958's Dracula, more contemporary vampire tales like The Lost Boys and From Dusk Till Dawn to the highly regarded teenage fantasy romance Let The Right One In. Of course, Blade isn't the only bloodsucker with his own franchise - Kate Beckinsale's leather-clad Selene pops up throughout the Underworld series while Robert Pattinson's Edward Cullen pursues Kirsten Stewart's Bella Swan during the increasingly syrupy Twilight series.
Curiously, Marvel has yet to integrate Blade into their MCU series of films which has dominated the cinematic landscape since 2008. But in truth, it's difficult to see where such an adult character would fit in. Much like The Punisher, Blade is too extreme to exist alongside more family-orientated fare that continues to bring in the money. Perhaps, after the events of Avengers: Infinity War, there may be a space for the hybrid hunter in proceedings but this raises yet another question - who is bad-ass enough to take the role over from Snipes who must surely be too old for the role now?
© 2019 Benjamin Cox