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CampBlood Reviews: Senseless Rants from a Picky Sissy

 

Blade: Trinity David S. Goyer 2004

The Gay Blade

I bet you think I just really wanted to use that title and am going to jump through a series of flaming hoops in order to justify it. And I almost wish it were so.

Happily, Blade: Trinity is more than deserving of the title of The Gay Blade for several reasons, mostly involving the presence of the spectacularly homofied Ryan Reynolds. From the first seconds of the film, when the sibilant ss's of Ryan's voiceover filled the theater in Dolby Surround, I sssusssspected that this film was going to be a departure from the rest of the series, and I was right. Gone was the LA clubster scene and deep character development of the original (remember the shit between Blade and his mom? Creepy!). Gone was the gothic splendor and sly sense of humor of Guillermo del Toro's impressive follow-up. And here instead were Ryan Reynolds, Jessica Biel, Parker Posey, and Natasha Lyonne ambling around a warehouse trying to out-camp one another. Call it Blade: The Real World.

In a prelude apparently filmed in the lobby of the Mummy's Revenge ride at Universal Studios, a group of vamp mercenaries invades an ancient temple and awakens Dracula, who has been napping for a few hundred years. Yes, the Dracula. Parker Posey and her vampy Scooby Gang wake up the old bird, who comes out of the sand like something out of T-2, and we cut away, left with the feeling that he doesn't like having his beauty rest disturbed.

The main story picks up somewhere in Canada, as most action sequels do these days. Blade and Whistler (Kris Kristofferson, looking like Owen Wilson doing an impression of Kris Kristofferson) are still killling vampires and their Familiars (humans who help vamps in the hopes of becoming them one day), as evidenced in an impressive opening action sequence that takes place in a traffic tunnel (anything that features people on motorcycles getting run over is good by me -- noisy fuckers!). However, it seems that not all is well: the entire chase has been a setup for Posey to capture Blade's murderous ways on video, which she turns over to the FBI (which includes the wonderful James Remar in his umpeenth throw-away cop role in as many years). They invade Blade's hideout and kill Whistler (again...), and take Blade into custody. Eric Bogosian makes an inexplicable cameo as a talk-show host. Things blow up. Blade grimaces a lot and looks like his falsies are hurting his gums.

In custody, Blade is drugged and Parker and her goons taunt him, as vamps are wont to do -- it appears that they have the FBI and the cops in their velvet-lined pockets and they've been using the humans to catch Blade. But before Posey can finish her lap-dance, Ryan Reynolds crashes through the observation glass and saves the film from becoming yet another worthless, by-the-numbers sequel.

In truth, this film shouldn't really even have Blade in the title at all -- half of the time you could blink and miss him. The movie is really centered on the new generation of vamp hunters (the Nightstalkers, as they call themselves, borrowing from the Kolchak movie), and their Apple-sponsored gadgets, which include Powerbooks, iPods, and the like. Blade comes across as tired, old, and cranky -- he has no real emotional arc (especially compared to the rich development he enjoyed in the first film), makes no real choices, and seems very unhappy to be there. Whistler looks relieved to be dead and absolved of babysitting duty.

So what of this new generation, then? Well, there's Abby (Biel, who kicked ass in the Texas Chainsaw remake), the illegitimate daughter of Whistler (you dog, you...), which makes no sense considering that Whistler has already told us that his family is dead (did these people write for soap operas?). She is an archer, has some serious anger issues, and loves mp3's (at least 10 total minutes of film are dedicated to watching her make playlists on her computer and insert earbuds before battles. Girlfriend likes her jams.). There's Natasha Lyonne, a blind scientist with a daughter, Zoe. Lyonne's career continues to amaze me. Have you ever seen a child that looks like it could either be 12 or 40 years old? Lyonne looks like one of these, which makes little sense considering that her real age falls somewhere in-between. Since she's generally inexpressive anyway, the fact that she wears dark glasses throughout (blind, remember?) has little impact on her performance. There are a few other drones who have Early Victim all but stamped on their foreheads, but they're not really worth getting into.

And of course, there's the wise-cracking, ab-flashing, eye-rolling leader of the bunch, Hannibal King (Reynolds, about 25 pounds heavier than Van Wilder and all the better!), who takes almost any oppurtunity to crack on his own wussiness, bitch about how he gets abused by women, and flash his pubic hair (at one point he pulls down his waistband to near-pornographic depths to show a tattoo on his groin. Yes, kids -- the curtains match the carpet.). This is of course extremely odd behavior for the leader of a band of outlaws, particularly when you also consider that his partner is a super-hot chick that he has absolutely no interest in. King is all flash, no action -- a Muscle Queen of the highest caliber. He may look tough, but buy him a drink and slap his ass, and he's on his back with his knees at his ears before you can say Men are Pigs. And you can quote me on that.

Powerbottom or no, King is certainly the most interesting character in the piece, and has all the good lines. How can you not love an action movie where the leader of a rebel gang says that he gets the money for the gadgets and artillery by dating older men? Or makes reference to having been a vampire's "cabana boy"? King unfortunately crosses the line between cuntiness and outright mysogyny (he's had bad luck with women, having been turned into a vamp by Posey years before) with lines like "unlike most vampires, her fangs are in her vagina" (paging Doctor Freud...) and "you cock-juggling thundercunt!". Still, Wesley Snipes is still in the next room fiddling with his fake fangs, so it's certainly a welcome diversion. And let's not forget how fucking HOT he is when he's shirtless, chained to a floor, and tormented by a vampire Pomeranian...

Yes, a vampire Pomeranian. The gayest dog in Christendom. Meaning that there are plenty of other queer highlights in Blade: Trinity besides Reynolds' flambouyant perfomance. We've got vampire toy dogs. We've got a psychotherapy session where a shrink tries to convince Blade that his belief in vampires is a sexual fetish based around fluid exchange and that he has an unhealthy attachment to his mother (Doctor Freud? You still here?). And there's Dominic Purcell as Drake (Dracula's slave name), who is arguably the hottest incarnation of Dracula to ever grace the screen (and yes, I'm including Love at First Bite). Sure, he's dressed like Eurotrash, but we've come to expect that, haven't we? Even unbuttoned peasant shirts and flared leather pants can't diminish the beauty of this man, who looks like he fell out of a Hugo Boss ad, popped in a pair of contacts, and strolled on-set (in truth, Purcell starred in the short-lived series John Doe and was a TV star in Australia -- but then again, who wasn't?). Also add to the mix Parker Posey, as dehydrated and bitchy as ever as the leader of the vamps (her shtick didn't work for me for the first hour, but she warms up), a scene where Drake strolls into an all-Dracula goth store (they even sell Dracula vibrators and Count Chocula), jokes about man-on-man ass-rape (Parker quips, "Shut up, you know you liked it"), and direct references to the Wizard of Oz, and you've got a campfest-in-the-making.

Now, the real question is, "is any of this actually watchable?". And for the most part, it actually is -- and remember, this is coming from a guy who generally hates action-horror (check out my Van Helsing review for proof). The action is generally well-shot, the fight choreography is better than most (certianly head-and-shoulders above the "blurred-teeth-and-hair" style used in Resident Evil 2), and there's large doses of humor tossed in to keep things moving. Unfortunately, it's not the least bit scary. Why can't these studios balance the horror with the action? These action pieces, which are being billed as horror films, only use the horror elements as set dressing and costume design, like dressing a Jerry Bruckheimer movie in Halloween costumes. The last solid action-horror film that I can think of that had crackerjack action and was genuinely scary is Deep Blue Sea, which was 5 years ago -- I'd love to see one of these bloated fuckers aim for something that added in more chills to the mix. Sure, they resort to the standard "crank the shutter-speed in the action scenes and disregard consistency in film stocks from shot to shot" cop-outs here, but that's standard to the genre at this point (unfortunately). But thanks to some funny lines, the increasingly watchable presence of Reynolds (let's see if he fags out in the Amityville remake), and Biel's impressive ass-kicking, Blade: Trinity is a welcome alternative to the fucking Polar Express.

Rating (out of 5):

This made-for-TV movie features a young actor who would later star as a closeted homo in Far From Heaven