Marvel Movie Madness! Part 9: Blade: Trinity

Closing out the trilogy.

by | May 27, 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 9: Blade: Trinity (2004, 26% @ 163 reviews)

Directed by David S. Goyer, starring Wesley Snipes, Jessica Biel, Kris Kristofferson, Ryan Reynolds

Jeff: Well, that was disappointing. But hey, when a movie includes a voiceover sequence and one character warning another with the hoary phrase “you’re gettin’ reckless” within the first 10 minutes, you kind of have to be grateful that it’s at least telling you upfront that it isn’t going to be any good. Even for the third installment in an action thriller vampire trilogy, Blade: Trinity is packed with “wait, what?” moments, from its cast full of talented character actors who had mortgage payments (including Eric Bogosian, Patton Oswalt, and Parker Posey, who clearly studied for her role by watching Sandra Bernhard in Hudson Hawk) to its laughably senseless plot (Dracula can shape-shift because he has very tiny bones?).

That being said, Trinity does deliver a handful of cool action set pieces, as well as some interesting plot wrinkles — turning Blade into a fugitive from justice makes sense, and turning him into the glowering mentor for a team of vampire hunters wasn’t a bad idea. To no one’s surprise, Ryan Reynolds steals many of the movie’s most entertaining moments, and Jessica Biel makes for a decent action hero, although she isn’t given much to do (aside from one of the most pointless shower scenes in recent memory). But all the (cough) new blood can’t keep the movie from feeling tired — Trinity gives us Blade versus Dracula, which ought to be the all-time vampire movie showdown, but the story follows the same beats as the rest of the franchise, and Goyer never builds enough tension to make it feel like there’s really anything at stake.

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Tim: My expectations for Blade Trinity were so low that I found myself kinda digging it. It’s clearly the weakest of the three films; like em>Blade II it fails to dig deeper into our hero’s psyche, and it often betrays the internal logic and rules of the first two movies. And like Jeff said, it sets up a final conflict that it has no way of pulling off in a satisfying way — characters talk about Dracula’s invincibility, that vampires are running the show in every major city, and that the Nightstalkers have devised a method of killing off every vampire in the city, but we don’t really believe any of these things. Plus, the movie has no idea what to do with Parker Posey. She seems like a perfect arch-villainess — heck, even in her indie comedies she projects an air of passive aggressive malevolence — but she’s given so little to do that her character ends up just being distracting.

For all its faults, though, Blade Trinity has a few things going for it. Reynolds and Biel are credible action stars, and some of the set pieces are reasonably exciting. But for me, the most entertaining moments in the movie are either throwaway gags or weird little things in the background. The biggest laugh in the movie — nay, the franchise — happens when Blade rescues the baby, and then, looking down upon it, growls, “Cootchie coo!” When the second-string Nightstalkers are clowning around at their headquarters, Patton Oswalt proves himself to be the worst basketball player ever captured on celluloid. And I liked the fact that one of the rap tunes on the soundtrack sampled the Velvet Underground’s “Venus in Furs.”

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Matt: You know you have problems when your two franchise stars (Snipes and Kristofferson) sue over their lack of screen time. Compared to the first two movies, this one’s a disaster. It seems to be more about setting up the Nightstalkers as spinoff franchise than a real Blade story, but the movie was so poorly received by audiences that the spinoff never happened (and it killed the original franchise).

This movie does so many things wrong compared to the first two. First of all, Blade gets pushed to the background in favor of new characters. The action is well-staged, but it doesn’t really drive the story very well. Every time the story gets a little slow, Goyer tries to pep things up by throwing in a mostly random fight scene.

It bothers me how the iTunes product placement is so awkwardly forced into the movie; we learn that Jessica Biel’s character likes to listen to MP3s while hunting vampires, so we see her synching playlists on her spiffy new iPod, but we cut to the next scene where she’s kicking ass, and the iPod is nowhere to be seen. Incompetent product placement at its finest!

Another irritation is Ryan Reynolds’s character, Hannibal King. I think Reynolds is funny in this movie, but this isn’t Hannibal King from the comics. They do get the background mostly correct, but the characterization is completely different. Marvel’s King was a no-nonsense, ex-vampire detective. The movie King is all about nonsense. It’s as if Goyer decided to pull some name out of the Blade canon to appeal to comic fans, but he never bothered to actually do any homework about how the character had been previously written. Either that or maybe he thought comic book fans wouldn’t notice.

I could go on and on about this movie… Three different endings were shot!? There’s a laser bat’leth? A vampiric pomeranian? Patton Oswalt’s embarrassing basketball winning that pick up game!? And oh yeah… a movie called Blade that mostly forgets about the title character!? I think it’s telling that Goyer hasn’t directed anything but shlock horror since this film was released. If you screw up a money-making franchise this badly, no one’s going to trust you with a major motion picture again.


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