Marvel Movie Madness! Part 7: Blade

We sink our teeth into Marvel's vampiric hero.

by | May 24, 2011 | Comments

Enter Marvel Movie Madness, wherein Rotten Tomatoes watches all of the significant Marvel movies ever made. Full Marvel Movie Madness list here. Tune in! We give you our thoughts, and you give us yours.

[rtimage]siteImageId=10243463[/rtimage]

Part 7: Blade (1998, 55% @ 84 reviews)

Directed by Stephen Norrington, starring Wesley Snipes, Stephen Dorff, Kris Kristofferson, N’Bushe Wright

Matt: In 1998, Blade hacked and slashed his way onto the big screen in one of the bloodiest comic book adaptations we’d ever see (at least until Blade II). Wesley Snipes, mostly at the top of his stardom, played the vicious vampire killer, and the movie was directed by a relative newcomer named Stephen Norrington.

I remember liking this movie, but I was surprised at how bleak it was when I rewatched it. There’s a washed out feeling to the cinematography that’s somewhat alienating, and I think it really helps set the tone here. As I watched it though, I felt like there was a conflict between the laconic intensity of the Blade character and Wesley Snipes’ natural exuberance. Blade is very dour character here (more than he is in the comics), but sometimes Snipes just can’t help mugging, or making a wisecrack.

[rtimage]siteImageId=10243462[/rtimage]

Alex: Absolutely, this movie looks fantastic. The sets have zero clutter, with the images stern and elegant. It actually creates a sense of oppression, reminiscent of The Dark Knight later on. Other than some unfortunate CG work during the climax, it’s hard to believe Blade has been out for nearly 15 years.

Norrington is clearly more comfortable with Snipes’s physical strength than later directors who waste a lot of time on unnecessary stylized shots and slo-mo moments. You got Wesley Snipes in front of the camera; just let him do his thing and you’ll get all the badass you need. There’s very little posturing and chasing around in this movie. It’s all direct choreographed brawling and it just feels great and real.

That’s what I love about Blade and X-Men: they were filmed when Marvel had no precedent of Hollywood success. They hide their comic book origins and focus on making sense within the real world. Blade has refreshing immediacy, something slowly traded away for spectacle in modern comic book movies.

[rtimage]siteImageId=10243464[/rtimage]

Tim: I agree with you, Alex. Having not read the Blade comics, I could imagine how this story looked on the page without much difficulty. I really enjoyed how movie plugs you into its world without tons of convoluted backstory or heavy portentousness. Still, there’s a lot going on here: at times, Blade is an AIDS parable, at others, an Oedipal nightmare. Sometimes, Snipes comes across as the supernatural resurrection of John Shaft — he’s a supercool freelancer navigating the underground on a mission to make things right. But none of that detracts from the sheer fun of this movie — it’s got several fantastic set pieces (I particularly love the disco bloodbath at the beginning), and the performances are all better than they need to be. I could listen to Kris Kristofferson read the phone book, and N’Bushe Wright is good enough here to make it lamentable that we haven’t seen much of her since.

In some ways, the sleek aesthetic of Blade feels like a dress rehearsal for The Matrix one year later: it’s got leather trench coats, shades, a throbbing techno soundtrack, spiritual mumbo jumbo, and truckloads of spent shell casings. Alex is right — some of the special effects look surprisingly dated, and the end is probably 15 minutes too long. But he’s also correct in the fact that Blade is an assured B-movie that works well despite (or perhaps because of) the fact that Blade is a lesser-known Marvel character — it’s not weighted down with the expectations of a rabid fan base, so it can go about its business with efficiency and a good deal of panache.

Alex: Marvel was probably cautious after watching D.C. let Superman and Batman rise, crash, and burn. Smart to toss out Blade first to test the waters.


More Marvel Movie Madness:

Tag Cloud

SDCC VICE social media Martial Arts X-Men police drama Lionsgate El Rey RT History Sci-Fi Red Carpet NBC Video Games Extras singing competition HBO Disney Channel Character Guide Sneak Peek Tomatazos GIFs Food Network 2017 Nickelodeon IFC sports Pop Trivia Election Bravo Spring TV Premiere Dates Summer Mary Tyler Moore PBS American Society of Cinematographers Winter TV OWN period drama Trailer cinemax TCA aliens Animation NYCC The CW 2016 vampires Nat Geo Calendar Teen Horror GLAAD Amazon 24 frames Best and Worst A&E First Look cooking USA SundanceTV MSNBC TV President Starz serial killer Biopics Holidays dramedy Certified Fresh Rom-Com adventure Comedy Central technology Grammys Esquire diversity comiccon Sundance Watching Series Valentine's Day harry potter WGN Crackle Ghostbusters Music Opinion Awards FOX Action ITV Hulu Country Star Trek Podcast MTV Showtime CBS All Access Countdown docudrama Fall TV sitcom Schedule Comedy boxoffice Box Office science fiction History based on movie Kids & Family Pirates Infographic Cartoon Network Rock Universal TNT Disney FXX Reality Adult Swim Lifetime Photos Writers Guild of America Freeform Comic Book cops CBS TCM ESPN Super Bowl 2015 VH1 travel Nominations TCA 2017 Marathons Emmys crime thriller crime drama Syfy Marvel TIFF Logo FX GoT Thanksgiving ABC Family CNN APB BBC America Mystery DirecTV Musicals Drama Masterpiece discovery 007 Polls and Games E! Fox News Winners Toys biography BET LGBTQ Superheroes Reality Competition Netflix TruTV war ABC Rocky thriller DC Comics AMC Cosplay Year in Review politics CMT Set visit BBC TV Land Oscars Star Wars PaleyFest Tumblr Exclusive Video TBS Fantasy Interview