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Blade

Reviewed By David Cornelius
Posted 12/14/04 15:08:05

"Remarkably, outstandingly awful."
1 stars (Sucks)

A lot of people seem to like “Blade.” Some of them, I am told, are normal, intelligent folks. Hell, some of my best friends like this movie. These people are, of course, nuts.

For those of you lucky enough to have missed it, here’s the lowdown: Wesley Snipes plays Blade, a superhero/vampire slayer/vigilante who happens to be half-human, half-vampire. A greasier-than-usual Kris Kristofferson is Whistler, the Alfred to Blade’s Batman. The two have teamed up to kick ass in the secret underworld of vampires. (If it sounds like a comic book, it is; Blade has been a Marvel Comics character since the 1970s.) Anyway, their first celluloid adventure pits them up against devilish Gen-X vampire Deacon Frost (Stephen Dorff, who was hilarious in those Tim Conway videos... sigh, that joke never gets old). When not partying or looking wasted, Frost is working on some kind of plan that will resurrect somebody called the “Blood God.” This will do bad things, I’m sure, although I never bothered to figure out what.

The problem with “Blade” is that it takes itself too seriously, yet it’s not ridiculous enough to be all that funny, unintentional-wise. Screenwriter David S. Goyer (“Kickboxer 2”) plugs in lots of exposition, and aside from a silly opening fight sequence, the movie runs way too slow, not really kicking into gear until about 45 minutes in.

That’s when we meet Pearl, a giant vampire blob who weighs a thousand pounds or so and does nothing but sit around, soaking in his own filth, monitoring computers all day. (Must... resist... Harry... Knowles... joke...) It’s with Pearl, a bizarre character that makes no sense, that “Blade” starts to show hints of Bad Movie goodies. If you can watch Pearl’s first appearance without asking yourself, “um, what the frick??,” then more power to ya.

These goodies continue for a while, mostly thanks to a delightfully awful performance from Dorff. The guy comes off as Leonardo DiCaprio’s creepy older brother, the kind of guy who’s still hanging around the high school way after he should be. And in trying to act menacing-cool, he winds up coming across as a parody of a villain. (It helps that his character is surrounded by more villain parodies; the vampire counsel is made up of the same variety pack of non-descript eastern Europeans you find in too many vampire flicks.)

More goodies erupt when Kristofferson, who apparently hasn’t showered since “A Star Is Born,” bursts back onto the scene with a few machine guns in tow. For a brief moment, the film turns into a cheap shoot-’em-up actioner with Kristofferson in the Chuck Norris role, only looking like Drunk Santa in the process.

The best (read: worst) performance, however, comes from Snipes himself, who delivers some tough guy impersonation that’s far too lame to be taken seriously. He deepens his voice, tries to talk with menacing seriousness, and generally makes an ass of himself. Imagine somebody going for a generic badass voice inspired by Clint Eastwood, James Coburn, and maybe a pinch of “Firewalker”-era Louis Gossett, Jr. - only that somebody does it all wrong. That’s Snipes for you.

That’s a good thing, though, since every time he spoke, it got me to smirk. And when he spouts the occasional terrible dialogue (“You may wake up one morning and find yourself extinct”), hopes rise that “Blade” might become some Bad Movie classic. A lot of the scripting is deliciously awkward (another example: “I got two new hands, Blade - I don’t know which one to use to kill you with”), and the directionless plot adds a few much-needed giggles as well.

But in the end, there’s just too much in “Blade” that’s just plain boring. The fight scenes - the DVD has the balls to call the last one a “classic martial arts battle” - are dopey and lifeless; it’s no fun seeing two actors do a swordfight when they both suck ass, but don’t suck enough ass to be completely terrible.

That’s sort of how the whole movie is, really. It’s quite awful to be sure, but it stalls on the way to becoming the memorable slice of camp it might have been. Even with Drunk Santa.

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