Blade: Trinity (2004) / Action-Horror

MPAA Rated: R for violence, gore, language, and sexuality
Running Time: 90 min.

Cast: Wesley Snipes, Ryan Reynolds, Jessica Biel, Dominic Purcell, Parker Posey, Kris Kristofferson, Triple H, Casey Beddow, James Remar, John Michael Higgins, Natasha Lyonne, Eric Bogosian
Director: David S. Goyer
Screenplay: David S. Goyer
Review published December 9, 2004

Blade: Trinity marks the third installment of the surprise hit series based on the Marvel comic book character, the stoic vampire hunter, Blade.  This entry ties in more with the comic book roots of the character, as the Nighstalkers are introduced, the team of vampire hunters of which Blade was a member in the comic book world of the early 1990s.  Even an issue of "Tomb of Dracula", the Marvel series in which Blade and Hannibal King make their first appearances, makes a small but significant cameo.  David S. Goyer, the screenwriter for the first two Blade films, takes over as director.  It's only his second feature film, coming after his modestly overlooked debut with ZigZag, which also co-starred Wesley Snipes (Undisputed, Major League).

Trinity starts out with a group of vampires who travel to Iraq to resurrect a long-dormant, but powerful vampire from his earthen tomb.  It turns out that this vampire is none-other than the grand daddy of them all, Dracula (Purcell, Equilibrium), and his powerful presence should be the determining factor in the underground war between the vampires and humanity.  The crew that resurrect him also know there is one person who stands in their way: Blade.  To keep him distracted, they set Blade up by video taping him while setting him up in a killing of a human Familiar (a human who pledges to help vampires.  This gets the FBI on his ass, but never fear, because there are other vampire hunters to help Blade out, in the form of the Nighstalkers, a team that includes Abigail Whistler (Jessica Biel, Cellular) daughter of Blade's assistant, Abraham Whistler (Kristofferson, Planet of the Apes) and Hannibal King (Ryan Reynolds, Foolproof), a powerful former vampire who used to help the bad guys).  To stop Dracula and the vampire horde, the Nightstalkers plan on extracting Drac's pure vampire blood to make a virus that would wipe out all the vampires on Earth, although Blade himself may get offed in the process.

You'd think that with a more concerted effort to tie in the movie version of Blade with his comic book roots, as well as having the screenwriter for all three movies actually calling the shots from the director's chair, that this third movie wouldn't be plagued by story inconsistencies and confused plotting.  Many of these happen as the film reaches its climax and ending.  I'm going to speculate here and guess that the ending that is shown is not the original ending Goyer had in mind, mostly because it makes little sense, and seems rather hastily done.

Although it does keep the story continuity, Trinity has a different vibe than the first two films of the series.  The emphasis here is clearly on action, rather than horror.  Yes, there are some moments of grotesque images and the occasional scare, but those are merely set-ups for several action pieces that are liberally spread throughout the movie.  Special effects also dominate, with a very cool-looking ashen demise to the vampires, who all seem to meet the coolest of grisly deaths throughout.  Lastly, the humor factor has been ratcheted up here with the presence of such comedic personalities as Parker Posey (Laws of Attraction, A Mighty Wind) and Ryan Reynolds.  Reynolds wisecracks like Van Wilder throughout most of the film (probably ad-libbing much of it), although the juvenile crassness of the jokes does tend to take you out of the moment all too often.

Blade: Trinity is reportedly the final chapter in the series, but New Line realizes that a big financial return on this would merit a continuation.  For this, the Nightstalkers provide the perfect opportunity for a spin-off, and I've already seen reports that Biel and Reynolds would carry on in the event that they decide to make an off-shoot.  Unfortunately for this third movie, this means that Blade shares his screen-time most of the way, and some fans will just not be satisfied with the result.  Not being a real fan of the series, I honestly didn't mind.

OK, let's just cut to the chase here.  Blade: Trinity is still hampered by the same elements that made the first two films substandard fare, namely, the heavy emphasis on doing everything the cool way, in a heavily over-the-top display of style over substance.  Characterizations are still shallow, and rooting interest never really seems to be that engaging.  Basically, you get to watch eye-candy action, explosions, kick-ass outfits, and cartoonish villainy for two hours. 

Some people are content with that.  I am not.  I didn't like Blade.  I'll admit that Blade II was an improvement, but not by much.  Blade: Trinity offers substantial differences, but none of these were enough to win me over.  Some fans will detest this film for being different, but not being a purist, I could care less.  Speaking as someone who knows a Blade film will never be good, I was content to watch the good action scenes and chuckle at the occasional joke or sight gag, and walk away not really having to think much longer about it.  Strictly for fans of the series -- at least the ones who don't take the Blade-verse all that seriously.

Qwipster's rating:

2004 Vince Leo