Blade II

Reviewed By David Cornelius
Posted 12/14/04 15:04:55

"The vamps are bigger, but the hero's still just as crappy."
2 stars (Pretty Crappy)

Enough people liked the first “Blade” to demand there be a “Blade II.” The same can also be said of “Weekend At Bernie’s,” so I guess there’s no accounting for taste. Anyway, I can say that “Blade II” is in fact better than the original, but then, so is gonorrhea.

“Blade II” once again stars Wesley Snipes (whose name is a complete sentence) as Blade, the half-man, half-vampire warrior who’s devoted his life to slaying vamps. For this second outing, we learn there’s a new, evolved form of vampire out there, called “reapers,” who are eating vamps like it’s the dinner buffet at Ponderosa. The “Vampire Nation” (whatever that is) asks Blade to help them put a stop to this new monster, before the whole world is destroyed.

Helping him in his quest are: Whistler (Kris Kristofferson), the greasy sidekick/ace mechanic who died in the first movie, but not really; Scud (Norman Reedus), the new, younger, less greasy sidekick; an elite group of vampire marines (inspired by the cast of “Aliens,” I think) including some guys named Priest and Snowman; and their leader, Reinhardt (Ron Perlman), who’s too mean to be bothered with a “Top Gun”-esque nickname.

While the whole thing’s about as brainless as the first movie, it does get points for looking a little better, thanks to stylish director Guillermo Del Toro (who gained fame making the clever thriller “Cronos,” only to then to waste such cred by getting stuck making “Mimic”). Del Toro makes sure everything looks super-sharp here, as has become the norm in goth-horror-action flicks lately; the eye candy of this film is a vast improvement over the murky, uninteresting look of the original.

Still, there’s far too little reason to be watching in the first place. Snipes is as awful as ever, trying to be far to serious and wanting oh-so-badly to sound cool. When the script (from David S. Goyer) calls for some emotional moments - a bad move in a film like this - Snipes’ efforts to emote comes off as pitiful. When aiming for the contemplative look, he looks instead like he’s cooking up a massive fart. I know this guy can act; he just hasn’t shown it lately.

The movie also makes the mistake of trying to infuse too much kung fu into the proceedings. That’s fine when you’ve got Donnie Yen as one of the vampire marines (he’s “Snowman” or “Goose” or “Stinky” or something), but when you have Snipes trying to do martial arts, you’re in for a failure.

The filmmakers tried to cover this Snipes’ lack of fu by creating a CGI Wesley to do some of the fancier, physically-impossible moves. It’s obvious and distracting, like when they’d cut to the cartoon Superman flying on the old TV show. Since the CGI in this movie is so very, very bad, the cartoon Blade takes a lifeless fight sequence and makes it wholly unwatchable.

The action is so boring in this film that I couldn’t help but take my mind off what should have been the fun aspects, only to concentrate on plot holes and logic gaps. Most noticeably, why, when the good guys learn nothing but sunlight will kill the reapers, does everyone continue to shoot at them anyway? For the rest of the film, characters keep the bullets flying instead of, you know, just opening a window. These are supposed to be smart warriors, and yet they keep forgetting how to destroy their foe. (Why do they bother taking along any weapons at all?)

Also in the why box: Why, if the vamps come to Blade in peace, do they fight first? Why risk death at the hand of a vampire killer if you only came to drop off a message? Why does Blade show so much interest in learning about the vampires’ way of life, if he’s supposed to know all that stuff already, being a vampire expert and all? Why does the discovery that the reapers were genetically created wind up making no sense and confusing an already muddled plot? And why does all the blood here look like Hawaiian Punch?

“Blade II” wants to be a smart movie. It’s not. It wants to be a fun movie. It’s not. It’s a loud, boring mess, with only the vague thought of Kristofferson reprising his role as Drunk Santa allowing for any real interest. It’s as big a waste as the first “Blade,” and while I’m sure some folks will love this new one as much as they did the old one, I’ll never understand why.

After all, people liked the Macarena, too.

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