Thursday, July 28, 2011

"Blade II" a sequel better than the predecessor

TITLE: "Blade II"
DIRECTOR: Guillermo Del Toro
STARS: Wesley Snipes, Kris Kristofferson, Ron Perlman
EDITOR: Peter Amundson
AWARDS: Best Horror Film (nominated, Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy, & Horror Films)
BOX OFFICE: $150,145,152 (Worldwide)
RUN TIME: 117 min.

After the events of the first film, Blade must hunt down his friend, Whistler, in order to save him from his vampiric fate. Little does he know that the vampires he desperately is trying to kill, need him to help them find and kill a new threat; the reaper vampires.

"Blade II" is considered a cult classic, due mostly to the presence of director Guillermo Del Toro. This could be considered his first big budget American film (the director himself has disowned any affiliation with "Mimic" (1997)). Del toro's style, both visually and artistically, shows fans what they have come to expect from this director. This film is also arguably better than the original, a rare feat in the history of cinema.

Del Toro has become a renowned filmmaker over the last decade. Helming comic book fare that has escaped genre stereotypes and focused on character driven stories ("Hellboy" (2004), "Hellboy II: The Golden Army" (2008)), an art-house picture that has become both critical and audience favorite ("Pan's Labyrinth" (2006)), and has produced many films that have crossed their respective genre boundaries to become classics in their own rights ("El Orfanato" (2007), "Splice" (2009), "Biutiful" (2010)). "Blade II" is considered his first mass market exposure, which lead to his later success in the American, and arguably, world box office.

Del Toro's visually striking imagery abounds. Bloody, sculpture ridden set pieces, designed with high profile action sequences in mind, stand in between scenes rooted deeply in character development. The viewer never questions the motivations of the characters, because they understand them.

Much like James Cameron's "Aliens" (1986), this film takes a turn from the loner attitude of the first, and groups the hero with an unlikely band of battle trained hotheads. The difference here? These militants are not only the vampires that Blade has been hunting his whole life, but they are an elite team, specifically trained to kill Blade himself. The outcome of who exactly is who's enemy is never made completely clear, and keeps the viewer on the edge of their seat for the whole film. A complex, but not overly complex, story helped this action/horror hybrid to become the highest grossing entry in the entire series.

"Blade II" is not a perfect film. Many of the effects have unfortunately become outdated. Some of the actors deliver slightly wooden performances. But for every actor that wasn't up to snuff, there is a Ron Perlman (an actor this writer never tires of seeing), Wesley Snipes (who's husky voice, and physicality made him the perfect choice to play Blade), and Luke Goss (who hasn't found much success outside of Del Toro's work, but who always makes a great antagonist).

The action is where this movie lives. There are sequences fought in the dark, in the daylight, at night, inside, outside, in front of entire walls of UV rays, and every sequence feels fresh and unique. A high mixture of martial arts, gun play, sword play, and good old street fighting keeps the action unpredictable. The best part though, is that every action piece fits into the web of the story. They aren't just fighting to fight, there is some purpose.

All in all, this film is one of the better of the early 2000's comic book adaptations. Stay a far away from the 3rd entry as humanly possible (when will studios realize that putting Ryan Reynolds into a comic book movie will assuredly ruin it?).

If you like old school vampires, or new school vampires, this is most likely not your cup of tea. If you're a fan of the ultra gory interpretations that lived in the 1970's and '80's, this will suit you just fine. Not a film for everyone, but action and horror fans will get a kick out of it. It is not necessary to watch the original first, but this writer would recommend it anyway.

MY IMDb RATING:  7 out of 10

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