Marvel Movie Madness! Part 8: Blade II

Was this sequel cut from the same cloth as the original?

by | May 26, 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.

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Part 8: Blade II (2002, 59% @ 136 reviews)

Directed by Guillermo del Toro, starring Wesley Snipes, Ron Perlman, Kris Kristofferson, Norman Reedus

Alex: 2003: The year the comic book movie boom really got started. Spider-Man web-slung into theaters to declare superheroes the new king of summer, and Blade II marked the first time Marvel had produced a movie deserving of a sequel. In this outing, Blade relocates to Russia searching for his left for dead mentor, Whistler. At the same time, a mutant breed of vampires rises, forcing Blade to make uneasy alliances with enemies and new sidekicks.

This is, for better or worse, a Guillermo del Toro movie. Baroque sets and lots of colorful characters, creatures, and gross-out gore. Del Toro’s style has only grown in popularity following Blade II but I prefer the original’s spare style. Blade II is one big bouncy cartoon, and I frequently find that del Toro’s passion and creativity exceeds his directorial intuition. I don’t plan on revisiting this film ever but do find it marginally compelling to see a director put a personal stamp inside a mainstream superhero series.

Luke: Alright, I confess — I couldn’t handle any more of this movie after 30 minutes. The bad sunglasses, leather trenchcoats and crappy industrial beats were hurting my will to live. But I would pay to see a movie based on that Photoshopped image from a couple of years back in which Blade puts an end to Edward Cullen’s miserable existence. Come on, IRS, cut Snipes a break so we can see this happen.

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Tim: Listen, I’ve got nothing but love for Guillermo del Toro, but I have to agree with Alex. Blade II has a lot of things going for it in comparison to its predecessor — the effects are better, the action is cranked to 11, and the makeup design is vivid and grotesque (the Reapers look like Nosferatu by way of Aliens). And there are some wonderful del Toro touches — I loved the ninja-like vampires who invade Blade’s workshop — and a couple funny lines (Blade: “So you’re human.” Vampire attorney: “Barely. I’m a lawyer”).But there’s something missing this time — it’s not like Blade is the most effusive superhero on the block, but the first movie placed him in an intriguing milieu and let us fill in the blanks. Here, he’s not as haunted, and therefore not quite as weighty. Add to that a couple of absurd plot twists, plot inconsistencies, and a non-starting romance, and what you’re left with is a slicker, more cosmetically appealing movie that nonetheless fails to equal the gritty soulfulness of the first film.

Matt: This movie is a weird match of director and subject to me. I think del Toro’s creativity is really hobbled here; he’s got a real flair for blending horror and fantasy, but I don’t think the Blade series the best place for that. Don’t get me wrong – I really like this movie, I just think it’s one of the weaker entries in del Toro’s filmography. If Blade seems to feel like a dress rehearsal for The Matrix, then Blade II is definitely del Toro’s dry run for Hellboy two years later. But this movie isn’t bad, by any means. The action is well-staged, (it had better be, if you’re going to cast Donnie Yen), and Snipes seems to have a sixth sense for striking photogenic martial arts poses no matter where the camera is placed. I should also add that watching these movies definitely makes me miss Action Hero Wesley Snipes.

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Jeff: No, it isn’t a bad movie — in fact, I prefer it to the first installment, which I thought had some nifty ideas but was ultimately undone by Norrington’s unsteady direction. Del Toro is simply a better director, and as a result, I thought Blade II felt much more assured — the funny lines were legitimately funny, some of the action sequences were legitimately awesome, and the visuals, of course, benefited from del Toro’s signature style. Like Luke, however, I started to feel fatigue set in after awhile, and I thought the whole thing went completely off the rails in the final act, with one overblown battle after the next. (Did anyone else feel like they’d slipped into a Three Stooges/vampire hybrid when Blade and Nomak broke out the wrestling moves?) If del Toro had cut 20 minutes, this would’ve been a much stronger film.


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