Blade: Trinity (United States, 2004)

A movie review by James Berardinelli

If you're going to make a vampire movie, here's a piece of advice: leave Dracula out of it. The character is so iconic that virtually no cinematic interpretation will do him justice. Unfortunately, that's not something that writer/director David S. Goyer recognizes. So, in order to give vampire-hunter Blade a "worthy" adversary for his third outing, Goyer elects to pit the hybrid superhero against his old comic-book nemesis (on the written page, Blade first debuted in "Tomb of Dracula"), with unfortunate results. Take away the film's attitude, and you're left with Son of Van Helsing.

Blade: Trinity is more of the same. Blade (Wesley Snipes) sees vampires. Blade kills vampires. Blade reloads and goes back for more. The only ones he has any real trouble with are human beings. For some inexplicable reason, they're more difficult to dispatch than the undead. The storyline makes less sense than the ones embraced by Blade and Blade II, if that's possible. This time, Blade is given two sidekicks: the irritating Hannibal King (Ryan Reynolds), who has a wisecrack for every occasion, and the sexy Abigail Whistler (Jessica Biel), who is the daughter of Blade's old friend, Whistler (Kris Kristofferson). These three must go up against the king of vampires, Dracula (Dominic Purcell), who has been awakened by the toothy Danica Talos (Parker Posey) to implement the vampires' "final solution."

Those who are looking for variations on a theme won't find any here. Blade: Trinity is a carbon copy of its predecessors. It's all kick-ass attitude and style without any substance to back it up. Yet, where the first two Blades satisfied on a visceral level, this one doesn't. That probably has something to do with the portrayal of Dracula, who, in human form, looks more like a body builder than a vampire. When he reverts to this "true" likeness, he comes across like a rip-off of the alien from Predator. And, since all really bad guys like nicknames, he goes by the moniker of "Drake." I guess "Vlad" doesn't work these days.

Although the vampires in Blade: Trinity aren't scary, at least they are not emasculated by the romantic notions applied by writers such as Ann Rice. These are cold-blooded killers, which allows Blade and his cohorts to dispatch them without blinking an eye. The film features dozens of vampire destructions, many of which occur during the film's frantic, frenzied opening battle, which is big on loud music, quick cuts, and violence. Much of the movie is like that, and what starts out as energetic quickly becomes tiresome, then boring. Besides, we have seen this before - twice, to be exact. (Although, to be fair, Biel is a lot hotter than Snipes when high-kicking her way through a hoard of fanged bad-guys - at least from this reviewer's perspective.)

The plot is dumb and dumber, so the less said about it, the better. It's really just a clothesline upon which to hang the fight scenes, but that doesn't keep it from dangerously resembling the lame storyline of Van Helsing. (And no movie wants to be compared on any level to that particular blockbuster dud.) This is Goyer's directing debut (although he had scribed all three movies), and he steals liberally from previous directors Stephen Norrington and Guillermo Del Toro (who was offered the job on this one, but decided to make Hellboy instead). The music is just as loud as in the previous films, and the gags and one-liners are more often lame than funny. (Although I chuckled at the fate of the dogs.)

The movie's bedrock is Snipes, who takes Blade to a new level of coolness. Radiating frost, Snipes struts his way through the movie, never allowing the viewer's attention to veer from him. Jessica Biel, who has the toughness and sex-appeal but not quite the same presence, holds her own, but the fatuous Ryan Reynolds (Van Wilder himself) falls on his face. As Dracula, Dominic Purcell is a putz, and represents one of the worst villain casting decisions of the year. Kris Kristofferson is as stiff as the walking dead - thankfully, his screen time is limited. Then there's Parker Posey, who plays her role as a lady vampire with all the campy subtlety of a drag queen.

The target audience for Blade: Trinity is the same as it was for the previous two incarnations, and it will probably be met by pretty much the same reaction in all corners. As a character, Blade is a terrific property, and the films have enhanced the creation of Marvel Comics legends Marv Wolfman & Gene Colan (both of whom are "honored" by an in-joke in this film, when an issue of the old "Tomb of Dracula" gets screen time). Snipes has made Blade his perfect cinematic alter-ego. Now if only someone could give the character a story worth telling, the pieces might all be in place for a great action/horror thriller. But, although the saying goes "third time's a charm," that's not the case here.

Blade: Trinity (United States, 2004)

Run Time: 1:45
U.S. Release Date: 2004-12-08
MPAA Rating: "R" (Violence, Profanity, Sexual Situations)
Subtitles: none
Theatrical Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1