Blade: Trinity

(2004) * 1/2 R
114 min. New Line Cinema. Director: David S. Goyer. Cast: Wesley Snipes, Ryan Reynolds, Jessica Biel, Kris Kristofferson, Dominic Purcell.

Though I've never been a Blade fan, in the original Marvel comics or the New Line Cinema adaptations, I could at least see the appeal of 1998's Blade and 2002's Blade II. The first film set the stage for Wesley Snipes' badass vampire slayer, and the second layered Guillermo Del Toro's luxuriant style onto the proceedings. Both Blade films were campy goth cavalcades juiced up with kinetic action and over-the-top performances. Like the part-vampire Blade, the films were hybrids: a blend of dark-lore gore and unpretentious dumb fun. Now, David S. Goyer, the writer of all three Blade films, has been allowed behind the camera. This, then, should be pure unadulterated Blade, but Blade: Trinity—which purportedly went through a tortured development process--turns out to be a tired mess which adds nothing to the franchise but a long 114 minutes.

This time, Blade gets framed for murder by the Vampire Nation and, with the FBI now on his tail, joins forces with some human vampire hunters known as the Nightstalkers. Jessica Biel (the intense beauty formerly of TV's Seventh Heaven) and Ryan Reynolds (the poor man's Jason Lee) play Blade's Nightstalker companions, Kris Kristofferson returns as Blade's trusty—and crusty—partner Whistler, and even Parker Posey shows up as Danica Talos, a vamp whose masterplan is to revive Dracula (a blank Dominic Purcell) and sic him on Blade. The Vampire Final Solution, as its called, involves a blood-farming facility, which may be the film's only interesting idea ("Why kill your prey when you can keep them alive?"); unfortunately, this idea is a one-scene pitstop on the way to ordinary, sadly familiar vampire clashes, car crashes, and the like, all scored to screaming techno music. Dracula does sci-fi's greatest hits, alternately imitating the Terminator and the Alien ("Drake" and his Pomeranian li'l buddy are fearsome beasties with claw-like protrusions blooming from their throats).

Goyer occasionally lets fly with a humorous bit, intentional or not, from Reynolds watching, while convalescing, the William Shatner Esperanto film Incubus to the goofy exchange between Blade and a doe-eyed little girl. Doe-eyed Little Girl: "Why can't you just be nice?" Blade: "Because the world isn't nice." And who could forget this ingenious political commentary, disguised as a plot detail about Dracula: "They found him in Iraq about six months ago, and he was pissed!" In some ways, Blade: Trinity is no more or less stupid than the other Blade movies, but let's just say it doesn't wear its stupidity well. Instead of building on its predecessors, Blade: Trinity feels cheap, compromised, and plumb tuckered out.

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