Set in a small town in Mexico, this quiet, haunting ghost
story displays the remarkable skills of a director in his
subtlety and passion. Wait, this is the other Del Toro
movie in theaters. This is his gleefully bloodthirsty, brutally
fast-paced, ďOy, itís kicking my assĒ action movie. The difference
could not be starker.
From the opening scenes, you can tell this wonít be Citizen
Kane. When that first bucket of blood slaps against the
wall, that first vampire explodes in a glorious hail of sparks,
and Wesley Snipes deadpan blows a kiss at himself in a rear-view
mirror, you canít help but smile. The movie is intoxicatingly
fun. Filled with the sort of ebullience for violence and destruction
that stems from its comic book origins, Blade II holds
nothing back.† It shamelessly entertains by providing the
sort of completely unrealistic violence that worries parents.
More than that, the action is incredibly well crafted. Every
punch and throw is clear and distinct. There are no cheap
cut-aways. The camera soars to follow a character punched
across the room and never flinches when the baddies open their
Of course, no comic book story is complete without badass
characters. Blade II has a seemingly inexhaustible
supply. Blade teams up with the Bloodpack, a crack team of
vampires trained to kill him, in order to combat a new threat
to both vampires and humans: Reapers. The Bloodpack is the
coolest bunch of bloodsuckers to ever grace the screen including
the sadly underused Donnie Yen (he is also the martial
arts choreographer) and the cult icon Ron Perlman.
Also returning is Whistler (yeah, I know he should be dead)
played by Kris Kristofferson who snarls the best insults
ever. His banter with Perlman and Bladeís younger weapon expert
Scud (Reedus) is a riot. And the Reapers are the cherry
on top. Part vampire, part horrendous monster, they tear apart
vamps like theyíre Swiss cheese. Wait till you see one open
its mouth. The shock is worth the admission alone. And of
course, youíve got Blade who still has more gadgets than Bond,
but now features more dry wit and less simpering compassion
than he had in the first movie. In fact, the only uninteresting
characters are the love interest (gag) Nyssa (Varela)
and her Nosferatu father.
The plot is full of the typical double crosses but theyíre
almost inconsequential next to the action of the movie. In
fact, the ending has conventions the size of buses, but it
matters so little that you might as well relax and focus on
the complete awesomeness of the film. In particular, the graphics
make impressive images. The sparks and burning flesh look
authentic, and many times the CG stand-ins during action scenes
are so smooth you have to be watching for them to notice.
For me to say that feels weird. I find CG characters to be
obviously fakeó*cough*Jar-Jar Binks*cough*. Also amazing is
the art design and cinematography. The crisp beautiful ambers
and sleek black costumes complement each other. And the gadgets!
The guns and devices should get first billing, too.
Reportedly, Del Toro made Blade II in hopes of convincing
a studio to fund his childhood dream: a live-action Hellboy
movie. I hope that Blade II enjoys overwhelming success
at the box office, because while Iíve never heard of Hellboy,
I am desperate to see another comic book adaptation by this
director. This is the best American action movie since The
Matrix (Crouching Tiger and Fellowship Of The
Rings donít count as action), and I will gladly fork over
many to enjoy this movie with friends. Popcorn filmmaking
at itís finest! Fun without an ounce of pretension.
ó Zack Schenkkan