Sunday, January 20, 2013

Blade II (2002) DVD (Target multi pack)

Is that a hill?  You know I won't ice skate up it.
Rating: 3 out of 5 Members of a Kick Ass Vampire Death Squad

Plot Synopsis:  So there’s Blade, there’s a new kind of vampire killing vampires and there’s Ron Perlman.  Then shit get’s real.

The Good:

-Right off the bat it feels like a different tone, a warmer color palette, a lot more yellows and oranges and reds.  Looking at IMDB explains that.  The first was directed by David S. Goyer which is kind of known for his darker, monochromatic style and a cleaner more sterile environments.  This one is directed by Guillermo del Toro who usually uses a much richer color palette with a lot of small details to enrich the world.

-Also right off the bat the CGI looks better.  Not great but better.

-The intro is good, I don’t know if there was a better way to do it and I don’t know if it would have been a good idea to have no recap but it doesn’t take up THAT much time.

-The costume has been improved with the coats red lining.  I don’t remember seeing that in the first one but it adds a good splash of color to the monochromatic nature of his costume.  They also added some personality to his military style vest in the form of some buckles which add some texture.  It’s kind of a lateral move, if I had to pick a favorite it would have to be the one from Blade but the new costume works with the more colorful environment.

-The monofilament wire returns.  I love monofilament wire.  It’s what makes Walter one of my most favorite characters ever.

-Wesley Snipes seems to have put more flare and flourish in Blades fighting style.  It makes it prettier but takes away from the brutality in the first movie.

-I like the new side kick Scud, the pot smoking gadget maker, his personality clashes greatly with Blades which adds something to the relationship that wasn’t there in the first one.

-I like how Whistler interacts with Scud.  The gruff old man O.G. and the young, cocky buck.


-The fight with the vampire ninjas.  Blade opens using a sheathed sword and then transitions into using the sheath and the sword in combination.  It’s fast paced, elegant and most of the CGI looks pretty good.

-“Are you human?” “Barely, a lawyer.”

-The new Reaper Vampires are pretty badass.  Hideous, unstoppable uber vamps with a unique take on the vampire myth.

-The premise is more solid than the first one.  Hired by vampires to hunt the new Reapers, it’s something different and interesting.

-The Blood Pack, a badass, rag tag group of elite vamp soldiers.  Ron Perlman always helps makes things more awesome.

-Another Blade moment when he says “So exciting.” then shivers.  A weird Blade moment that works.

-Blade has more personality in this one.  So the weird Blade moments are greater in number and more frequent but it works.  I support a weird personality over no personality.

-Scud is wearing a BPRD shirt, nice nod to Hellboy.

-I like the take of Vampire body modification.  They’re having their skin peeled, muscle and bone exposed, what else would they do?  Simple tattoos and piercings?  They have that as well but if you’re an immortal, bloodsucking hedonist why stop with what any mortal can do?

-I’m a pretty big fan of Verlaine.  She’s cute and short with pink hair.  That’s kind of my kryptonite.

-There’s a Hellboy bobble head in Scud’s van.

-One of the Blood Pack gets only half his head cut off.  It’s a pretty good practical effect as well as being incredibly brutal.

-Nomak, the big bad, patient zero of the Reaper virus, makes for a good antagonist against Blade.  Skilled, intimidating, every bit Blades equal.   You actually fear for Blades safety.

-When they dissect a Reaper.  It’s a nice bit of world building explaining the why’s and the how’s while being a pretty great practical effect.  What is especially interesting are the evolutions to the basic vampire anatomy.

-A little Crystal Method for your penultimate action sequence?  Well it dates the movie but it sure works.

-Blade straight up fucking suplex’s a guy through a glass floor.  I like that little addition to his fighting style.

-They’re able to keep the shades on Blade more in this movie, I don’t know what they did differently to glue those suckers in place but it works.

-The final fight is really good.  The use of CGI is also really good.  Blade gets his sword broken early so it’s a pretty brutal and visceral fight.  Several wrestling joint holds and moves are used include an awesome flying elbow combo into a diving knee that shatters marble delivered by Nomak.  It’s a good give and take fight that makes you think it could go either way.

-When Vamps ash they glow red, when Reapers ash they glow blue.  A nice little touch to distinguish them from Vamps.

-The ending shot of Blade in a peep show booth.

-I like that the vampires are portrayed as hedonistic deviants and that vampire society is this filthy, dirty underground culture existing in the darkest most perverted corners of the world.  Vampires have power yes but none of them are particularly admirable and the ones with the most power are not attractive.  It doesn't really glorify vampirism, making them look like little more than rats or parasites with delusions of grandeur.

The Bad:

-When compared to the opening of the first one this one is incredibly weak.

-Another weird Blade moment when he kills a vamp and then makes a kissing sound.  What the hell?  95% of the time he’s incredibly stoic and then occasionally he just does something weird.  Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t and it always feels out of character.

-I don’t like Blades new gun.  The one from the first one is much sleeker, this one is kind of, I don’t know, lumpy.  Lumpy isn’t right but the last gun was all straight, parallel lines and sharp angles.

-There’s a rave scene that’s a pale imitation of the first movies.

-Why wouldn’t they use UV lights first?  Especially when they saw that nothing else worked.  They’re attached to the end of every gun, why wouldn’t you flip those on immediately?  Seems kind of stupid for a bunch of trained military people, I understand that because they’re vamps the UV light would hurt them as well but you know what else hurts?  Being torn apart and eaten by a fucking uber vamp.

-You can’t parry a huge piece of concrete on the end of a long piece of rebar with a thin, little sword.  It’d go right through your defense and probably break your tiny sword.

-Even in their rubber suits the vampires can’t take the sun.  Why don’t they use the same sun block as Frost?  He was able to stand outside in broad day light with no ill effects.  These guys are totally covered and they can’t take the light.

-I’m pretty sure that’s not how light works.

-Blade falls in love with women pretty fast.  And get’s over them pretty fast.  The doctor in the last one, he fell in love with her pretty fast.  He was so in love with her he was willing to plunge the world into a blood good lead vam-pocalypse after just knowing her for a few days.  Of course he’s totally forgotten about her by now and this new girl he’s known maybe a day but already she’s the love of his life.

-How do you get a swimming pool of blood without attracting attention, that’s a crap load of blood and it’s gotta come from someone/s.

-I realize it’s only been two movies but the premise of “Vamps need Blades blood, they drain him and he is force fed by an ally” is already worn thin.  It’s a premise I was sick of the second time I saw it.  It’s the one weak point in an otherwise decent plot premise.  It’s a plot point that’s kind of shoe horned in at the end, you have this uber vamp plot taking up 98% of the movie and then suddenly “Oh, yeah, we need Blade’s blood to engineer better vampires.”  You don’t need it; you could edit it out and not really miss much.  Ideally you would replace it with SOMETHING else but removing it would only cause mild confusion.

-It’s just bad strategy when you shoot Blade into a pool of blood.  Then to turn your back, that’s just stupid.

The Ugly:

-There are points where the CGI dips to ugly occasionally but they’re doing better things with more often and using it accentuate the action.

Final Thoughts:  It’s hard to pick a favorite between this and the first Blade.  They’re different movies but I don’t if one is necessarily BETTER than the other.  I think I could watch Blade II more than Blade though.  Blade II is a much better action movie with very little to really pay attention to.  There are a lot of little things, things that reward you for paying close attention but plot wise it’s not that complicated.  It’s much more of a fun action/comic/vampire movie than Blade.  The first Blade tried a lot harder with its plot, not that it really succeeded in being a more complex movie but they tried a bit harder at the characterization, the character relationships and how the plot plays out.  This doesn’t really try too hard.  There are a few “surprise” plot elements but this movie just sort of cruises from point A to point B and things are pretty straight forward. 

Other than Blade, who does get more personality, pretty much everyone else is lucky to be one note.  Other than Ron Perlman and the vamp Princess none of the other Blood Pack has any personality at all.  None.  Ron Perlman gets the most characterization and he’s 2 dimensional at best but mostly he falls into the “hardass” character mold.  I can’t tell you anything about the vamp Princess.  She’s there and Blade loves her and because Blade loves her she has the life span of a Spinal Tap drummer.  Other than that the most characterization any of the Blood Pack gets is that they can shoot guns.  Using weapons is a character trait right?  Sure, why not?  Whistler changes very little from the last movie and Scud has personality but is still mostly archetype rather than character.

Blade II is a great popcorn movie.  If you like your vampires bad asses instead of sparkling little fairy boys, if you like your action scenes filled with blood and at times an unsettling amount of gore, if you like your plots streamlined and your set pieces filled with personality then this is the movie for you.

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