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Review by Dustin Putman
2 stars out of 4
A needless sequel to Stephen Norrington's 1998 vampire flick original,
"Blade II" is a stylishly filmed journey down a road to nothingness.
Based on the Marvel comic, director Guillermo Del Toro (2001's "The
Devil's Backbone") is an efficient craftsman of action setpieces,
but that is all he and screenwriter David S. Goyer have to offer.
The story, while passable, is nothing worth writing home about, and
the way in which the vampires die--their bodies turning to fiery ash
and crumbling--was seen in exactly the same way a month ago in the
smarter "Queen of the Damned."
As in its predecessor, Blade (Wesley Snipes) is a half-human/half-vampire
who can safely expose himself to sunlight and has dedicated his life
to hunting down and killing the vampire population. Set two years
later in Prague, he discovers that his thought-to-be-dead longtime
partner, Whistler (Kris Kristofferson), is very much alive and being
held captive. After rescuing him, Blade is confronted by Nyssa (Leonor
Varela) and Asad (Dannny John Jules), who head a group known as the
Bloodpack. It seems that their leader, Damaskinos (Thomas Kretschmann),
wants Blade to ally with them to fight a new and more deadly breed
of vampire. Known as the Reapers, they are so dangerous and their
appetite for blood so insatiable that almost their entire face opens
up like a mouth to suck. With new assistant Scud (Norman Reedus) in
tow, Blade agrees to help the Bloodpack, despite the nagging feeling
that they may not be worth trusting.
For all of its spiffy make-up effects, daring stunts, and quicksilver
editing, "Blade II" is an empty horror-actioner that never offers
a plausible reason for its being. The film, like most sequels, is
largely inferior to the fun original, and severely lacks the stunning
presence of Stephen Dorff. Dorff was every bit the star of "Blade"
as Wesley Snipes was, so for him to not be in "Blade II," and for
the main nemesis here to pale in comparison, makes for a rather disappointing
and superfluous continuation.
What is memorable in "Blade II" is, perhaps, the one crafty invention
in Goyer's screenplay. The Reapers are a tour-de-force of creative
ingeniousness and sparkling visual design, and the sight of their
chins splitting apart to practically engulf their victims' necks is
startling, to say the least. What is too bad, then, is the treatment
of the major Reaper character, Nomak (Luke Goss), who plays more like
an afterthought than a strong villainous force.
As the sunglass-wearing, badass Blade, Wesley Snipes looks almost
bored reprising his role. All Snipes is asked to do is brood and look
like a force who shouldn't be messed with, but is boring in the process.
His lack of outward emotion was something that the original did a
nice job of handling, but here he basically doesn't have emotions
at all. As potential love interest and potential enemy Nyssa, Leonor
Varela (2001's "Texas Rangers") is adequately entrancing, but like
every other actor is at the mercy of a very thin storyline with little
breathing room for the characters. Kris Kristofferson, a returnee
from the first movie, is excellent as the loyal Whistler. He fits
so well into the undemanding but likable part that you would think
he was born to play it. If anyone is the star of "Blade II," it is Kristofferson.
Generally composed of about three or four elongated action scenes,
"Blade II" moves at a rapid-fire rate. Its quick pace tries valiantly,
but does not succeed, at hiding the movie's inadequacies as a horror
picture (like last week's "Resident Evil," it's not even marginally
scary) and a sequel. With so little substance to be found in its 114-minute
running time, "Blade II" falls into the trap of being an utterly forgettable
time-waster that may have a handful of diverting fight scenes, but
nothing more. Don't expect to remember it in the morning.
Copyright © 2002 Dustin Putman