(C) New Line Cinema
In all honesty, Blade: Trinity was doomed from the start. After Hellboy was greenlit, Blade II director Guillermo del Toro departed from the Blade series, leaving David S. Goyer, writer of the previous two films, to helm the third entry as his directorial debut. But, it goes deeper than that. Wesley Snipes, who plays the eponymous vampire-hunter, was reportedly unhappy, with some saying that he would only respond to being called ‘Blade’, and would communicate using post-it notes. It may boil down to the fact that he has less than 100 lines of dialogue throughout this two-hour film, including one-word responses and meaningless dialogue, that made Snipes so unhappy: to see the character that really put him on the map being desecrated. Commercially, it wasn’t a success, grossing a meagre $52 million domestically, and it was frostily received too, with critics hating it and fans turning their backs on Blade. But, is Blade: Trinity really all that bad?
Blade: Trinity once again stars Wesley Snipes as Blade, the half-human half-vampire who this time around becomes a fugitive after accidentally killing a human. He then teams up with the Nightstalkers, led by Abigail Whistler (Jessica Biel) and Hannibal King (Ryan Reynolds), as together they must bring down Danica Talos (Parker Posey), who is working with Dracula (Dominic Purcell) to destroy humanity on Earth and allow vampires to rule the world.
As you may imagine from the synopsis, the plot of Blade: Trinity really isn’t great. It feels incredibly disjointed, like a film of two entirely separate halves that makes the switch jarring and the plot redundant. The first half is focused on Blade’s altercation with the FBI – he is now a wanted fugitive – but somewhere around the halfway mark the plot switches to a more mythical, vampire-focused story, separate from what we saw before. They could each be a film in their own right (albeit probably not good ones) since they are both so separate and have little to do with one another. This can only really be put down to the studio interfering, this time clearly looking for a much more accessible Blade film, scuppering the plans of Goyer to perhaps go down a more traditional route. This opens up plenty of plot holes too, such as where the FBI go for half the film, and definitely raises more questions than it answers. But that isn’t Blade: Trinity‘s only problem. The film’s villains, Danica Talos and Dracula, aren’t fleshed out at all and their motivations are really poorly motivated and aren’t communicated well. When writing the plot synopsis, I really had to reach to think about what their plan actually was, since it’s so poorly put across. Despite nearly all the plot being communicated by exposition, there are a few beats that I found interesting, and despite the glaring issues it has, it’s still a Blade film deep down – but I mean deep.
Characterisation in Blade: Trinity is also pretty mixed. In the previous two films (which I reviewed here and here), I found Wesley Snipes to be absolutely stunning as Blade, with the perfect blend of humour and brutality, but here it’s quite different. I don’t believe this to be Snipes’ fault at all, since he’s still great despite the lack of material, but more the fault of the studio for trying to lighten the mood. Blade and Blade II were hard, 18-rated affairs, whereas this tones it down to a 15 certificate, so they were clearly trying to appeal to more people. This meant Blade as a character was a lot more restricted and couldn’t be the same character we have seen before, which is a real shame. Newcomers Jessica Biel and Ryan Reynolds are solid, although nothing special, but Reynolds’ performance is definitely more interesting. At times, I loved his snarky portrayal of Hannibal King, shooting quips left, right and centre, but at times I found his humour to be really out of place and jarring, removing any of the stakes the film was trying to set up. You can see why Reynolds has been cast as Deadpool from this performance alone, since he’s got really great comedic timing but can also pull of action, it’s just that his comedy wasn’t quite suited to this film. Dominic Purcell is pretty shocking as Dracula, with a really one-note performance with absolutely no intonation or range, and the same can easily be said for Parker Posey, who plays Danica. Their performances let their characters down a lot, because unlike in Blade II, where there were villainous characters that I actually hated, I didn’t care at all about these ones to the point where it wasn’t worth hating them.
From a technical standpoint, Blade: Trinity isn’t quite a marvel (ahem) either. For a first-time director, David S. Goyer does a serviceable job, with a few nice shots standing out, and he handles the action pretty well. Editing is also quite tight, most notably with some of the montages, but they feel incredibly dated, and did even back then. The CGI is also very hit-or-miss, with the vampire disintegration still looking as brilliant as ever, but some moments are simply dreadful, such as Drake’s appalling transformation to Dracula which I can only liken to Fantastic Four‘s face transition (but you can read that here). Practical effects barely show up in this instalment due to the reliance on CGI, but thanks to some good cinematography and stuntwork, it isn’t missed too sorely. Action scenes are still fantastic, with the stakes high and the stunts risky and brutal, and they are easily the film’s strongest point.
I loved the first Blade film so much that it saddens me to say that Blade: Trinity really did derail the franchise. There are few redeemable features with this film, only Snipes, who is still fantastic, an intriguing (but poorly executed) plot and some great action. But unfortunately, poor CGI, a disjointed plot and mixed characterisation let this film down heavily. I love Blade, and I quite like Blade II as well, but I’m in no rush whatsoever to revisit Blade: Trinity.