Vampire flick: cold and lifeless


December 08, 2004|By Chris Kaltenbach | Chris Kaltenbach,SUN MOVIE CRITIC

Here's a tip for the next bad-guy vampire who captures Blade, Marvel Comics' fearless vampire hunter: Just Kill Him.

Don't toy with him. Don't taunt him with your perceived superiority. Just kill him and get on with your plans to take over the world.

Had the nasty vamps at the center of Blade: Trinity heeded that piece of sage wisdom, this third starring vehicle for Wesley Snipes as a half-breed vampire out to rid the world of bloodsuckers would have lasted about 10 minutes. But then, film fans would have been denied the joy of watching Jessica Biel's superbly sculpted abdominal muscles and listening to Ryan Reynolds' nonstop wisecracks.

Oh, and they would have missed seeing Blade smile, for possibly the first time onscreen. All of which is pretty thin stuff to hang a two-hour movie on.

In the world of Blade, vampires have started making their move. While the human world remains blithely ignorant of their existence (they seem to feed mainly on the homeless, so who notices, right?), the vampires are getting tired of living and drinking in the shadows. Take over the world, and that's no longer a problem.

Which is where Blade comes in. He's had a grudge against vampires since forever (his mother was bitten by one, which made her undead and turned him into a half-vampire), and for two movies now, he's been slaying them, sometimes using bullets filled with garlic or sunlight, other times sticking them with something pointy (which makes them awfully vulnerable to a guy wielding, say, part of a picket fence, but I digress).

In Trinity, the vamps have had it up to here with their renegade half-brother, and set him up to take a wicked fall by tricking him into killing a human -- something the cops frown on (the killing part, not the tricking). Thus does Blade become a haunted half-man.

After several scrapes with the FBI and the vampires, Blade falls into alliance with a group of similarly motivated vampire killers, led by the beautiful, well-toned Abigail Whistler (Biel) and her wiseacre friend, Hannibal King (Reynolds, who at least provides some laughs).

Together, the three seek to rid the world of vampires by unleashing a microbe lethal to the beasts. It's a powerful weapon, but it could be made even deadlier if combined with the blood of Dracula -- whom the bloodsuckers have conveniently revived as a way to further their own netherworldly aims.

Blade: Trinity has atmosphere aplenty, and Snipes' angular features and sleek sense of menace continue to serve the character well. But the story is a comic-book tale at its most basic level, filled with illogic and unregenerate smarminess and action disguised as narrative, all leavened by a single character who seems to be in on the joke -- in this case, Reynolds' Hannibal, who's never hurt too bad or fighting too desperately to stop the quips from coming. The formula works fine within the confines of a comic book, but grows stale stretched over two hours.

The movie features one true casting delight -- Parker Posey as a vampire with a serious attitude problem, even for one of the undead. She's a hoot, gleefully baring her fangs (although bad oral prosthetics make her look like she has a case of vampire mumps) and emoting enough bad-girl attitude to get anyone's blood boiling.

Alas, the rest of Blade: Trinity feels like a threadbare idea played out using riffs we've all heard before. Lots of fangs may be bared, but nothing in the movie cuts all that deep.

Blade: Trinity

Starring Wesley Snipes

Directed by David S. Goyer

Released by New Line

Rated R (violence, language, some sexual content)

Time 114 minutes

Sun Score **

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