Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Blade The Vampire Slayer!

Perhaps Marvel's most satisfying film franchise is Blade. The hubbub about the current Avengers movies is a sight to behold, and something I only imagined I might get to see, but as much fun as they are, these movies fall short of the world realized by David Goyer in the three Blade movies.

When Blade first appeared in Tomb of Dracula #10 he was a heady blend of blaxploitation and horror, a rough and tumble hero who was not remotely afraid of the thing he pursued. Making him a vampire of sorts added a real panache to what could've been a throwaway character. Marv Wolfman and Gene Colan get high marks for this one.

One thing about Blade is that his ethnicity is only a minor part of what makes him tick. At a time when every black character in comics called attention to that fact by putting black in the name (Black Panther, Black Goliath, Black Lightning), Blade was a refreshing departure. Blade wedged his way onto the Dracula team and showed up with some regularity, even getting his own one-shots and eventually his own series.

The first Blade movie is a rock'em sock'em adventure giving the screen one of its best superheroes. That the movie doesn't call attention to that, but rather portrays itself as a vampire flick, part of that long horror tradition frees it from some of the audience expectation. It is able rise above its roots. Blade starring Wesley Snipes is a fun movie to watch and watch again. The fact that like most vampire movies, it makes little sense, is masked by the brisk pacing.

Blade II gives us the "Bloodpack". This might be my favorite Blade movie, with a great villain who is a match for Blade. There are some neat twists and turns and the Sgt. Rock and Easy Company feel of the middle section of the film really is an unexpected treat. Some really good actors make this work.

Blade Trinity is the weakest Blade outing, but still an entertaining flick. The failure is to create a compelling villain, though the movie tries mightily. It's realization of "Dracula" is less than convincing, and far from compelling. He has some moments, but they are too few and too far between. The finale is muddled, and despite some clever character pieces this one fall short of delivering like its predecessors.

One cool thing is that a vintage issue of Tomb of Dracula (issue #55 to be exact) does show up in the movie, and I always love it when that happens.

Blade is a great character, a fabulous hero trapped between two world and two natures.

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