Written by David Holland
Ah, 1998. It was such a simpler time. A time when vampires could just be good, old-fashioned, garlic-allergic vampires. Those were the days when only two people in the world stood a chance against a vampire. One of those people was a super-powered high school cheerleader in the Whedonverse. The other, of course, was Blade.
I was not expecting this movie to hold up so well. Just to put things in perspective, this film is old enough to drink. Considering what it endeavored to accomplish, “Blade” had my full attention from the jump. Wesley Snipes had expressed interest in a “Black Panther” project and wasn’t super familiar with the “Blade” lore, but you can tell how passionate he is about this film. The tone through the first ninety minutes is really dark. It quickly establishes the sense that, as Blade consistently reminds us, there is a war going on. Not only that, but the humans seem to be losing.
Blade’s relationship with Whistler has real emotional depth and Karen’s development as a character is slow but believable. The movie constantly raises the stakes until Blade is nearly beaten. Considering the time in which the movie was made, the action was well done. The CGI holds up okay, but you can really see “Blade” laying the foundation for future films like “The Matrix”. Not only that, but “Blade” features a black man and woman as leads in a successful blockbuster back in the 90’s, building the foundation for future projects such as “Black Panther”.
The last half hour of the movie was my least favorite. Up until that point, the film had embraced the grim horror tone to great effect. When they reach the scary vampire temple, it sort of changes to an Indiana Jones tone that doesn’t hold up as well. The CGI blood effects are overused to the point that they become a little bit ridiculous. And the final fight with Deacon Frost is a bit of a disappointment. The buildup of the first hour and a half is really cool, so it was annoying to get to the final fight and feel a bit of letdown. A little bit of research showed that the original plan was for the vampires to actually win, for their God to be released and turn the whole city into vampires in order to set up the sequel. I wish that had been the film that we had gotten, but the powers that be got cold feet because they weren’t sure they would get a sequel. Hmmmm, let’s see what movie we will be watching next week.
“Blade” is a really cool film with a very different tone for a comic book movie. It had a bit more potential than it lived up to, but it is still entertaining.