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movie review out of 4 Movie Review: Blade

Starring: Wesley Snipes, Stephen Dorf
Director: Stephen Norrington
Rated: R
RunTime: 121 Minutes
Release Date: August 1998
Genres: Horror, Action, Thriller

*Also starring: Kris Kristofferson, N'Bushe Wright, Donal Logue, Udo Kier, Traci Lords

Review by Walter Frith
1½ stars out of 4

In the spirit of 1994's 'The Crow' and 1997's 'Spawn', 'Blade' has an irreverent comic book style presentation lacking in any emotion or original style. It is, however, a fairly decent movie if you know this going in. Decent in the sense that it is truly brimming with excellent action sequences, special effects to rival any vampire movie and stunt work that cannot be dismissed as routine. It also has a good story of conflict and pokes fun at big corporations as the vampire cult in the film is shown in the form of businessmen sitting around a boardroom table in conflict regarding their next move.

The film opens in a haunting fashion in 1967 as a woman, injured and bleeding severely is admitted to the hospital where she is about to give birth. The film skips forward to the present day. A vampire cult is bent on taking over the human race. Blade (Wesley Snipes), is the child of the woman seen giving birth at the beginning of the film and is half human and half vampire who works for the forces of good as a vampire killer. We come to realize that Blade's mother was attacked by a vampire which explains her injuries also seen at the beginning of the film. Blade relies on a formula, injected into him intravenously to keep his human side alive but his body is weakening and a permanent cure must be found for him to sustain his present state of being. Blade's sidekick is Whistler (Kris Kristofferson), who manufactures the formula and helps Blade like Robin would help Batman. Blade meets a blood scientist (N'Bushe Wright), a victim of being bitten herself, who helps him find a cure for sustaining his human side.

Blade's arch-enemy is Frost (Stephen Dorff), a chilling outcast from the group of vampires, who has his own followers and Frost's ideas for taking over the world are very different than some of his peers, putting him in direct conflict with them. He and Blade meet on several occasions in classic comic book style confrontation.

'Blade' is written by David S. Goyer based on characters created by Marv Wolfman and Gene Colan. Director Stephen Norrington gives the film a look that is a cross somewhat between 'The Terminator' and 'The Lost Boys' and the film is strangely empty in many spots, relying on its eye candy to do most of the work. Snipes and Dorff make for good opposites but the story can't sustain itself to the point of remaining interesting for its running time of exactly two hours.

Perhaps in setting a trend for the future, 1989's 'Batman' has done more for the technical side of films and less for the academic side of them. The triumph of the hero's accomplishments came across much more powerfully in 1978's 'Superman', which offered sub text in its first hour to explain the man of steel's origins. Most comic book stories I've seen since haven't been as expressive in giving audiences a total look at comic book characters, only their superficial side.

Copyright 2000 Walter Frith

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