Written by David Holland
The sequel that the studio feared wouldn’t materialize is here! Instead of the Blood God, the villain that would have been set up by the original ending of “Blade”, our hero is fighting the Reapers. This new villain is a strain of vampires that feeds on… vampires. Fighting these new vampires will force Blade to team up with… vampires.
Forcing the protagonist to work with their antagonists against a new enemy is a classic sequel technique. The Reapers are a step up from ordinary vampires, and the film goes out of its way to show us why they are scarier. Nomak, the carrier of the Reaper strain, takes on several vampires on his own without breaking much of a sweat. Most of the action scenes in this film are stronger than in the original, especially the fight in the nightclub. Watching the strongest vampires get picked apart by the Reapers set the stakes for why this new strain of vampirism is to be feared.
The hand-waving of Kris Kristofferson’s return (“Yeah, he shot himself, but then he got better!”) is worth it because of how much depth Whistler’s character draws out of Blade. And the circumstantial evidence that Whistler is working for the vampires helps throw viewers off of the traitor Scud’s scent. Although “Blade II” definitely gave Norman Reedus important practice fighting the undead.
Where the first movie focused mostly on Blade’s lonely journey as the Daywalker, the sequel forces him into an action ensemble. Wesley Snipes continues to make Blade an incredibly cool action hero, the black-coated, sunglasses wearing, sword slinger keeping the hopes of comic book movie fans alive in the post “Batman & Robin” world.
The best part of “Die Hard” is putting the character John McClane in a tightly confined space with a few terrorists. The problem is that the studio apparently thought that the best part of “Die Hard” was that the villain pretends to be one thing while actually just being a thief, so that became the pattern of the franchise, which is why no sequel lives up to the original.
Here’s my point: The best part of “Blade” was the heavy horror themes that pervaded the movie. But Blade 2 is overwhelmingly an action movie. Horror requires mystery and uncertainty, the sense that the villain is around every corner and there is no help to be found. This film removes the mystery. It is cool to watch, but it is lacking the horror feel that made the original stand out.
There’s plot issues too. Scud creates UV grenades that can be used to devastate huge swaths of vampires. Then we find out he is a vampire’s familiar. This would be like if Cypher, while working for the machines in “The Matrix”, created an agent-seeking missile and handed it over to Neo in order to keep up his cover. Then we learn that not only did Blade know Scud was a familiar, he also secretly fixed the dud bomb on the back of Reinhardt’s head. But instead of using that fixed bomb to kill Reinhardt, an assassin vampire trained to kill him, he uses it to kill Scud, a human nobody, all so he can get a satisfying line?
My last frustration is that, true to the original “Blade”, the CGI used in the final fight is so frustrating that it takes you out of the fight. It is the early 2000s, so obviously we have to be forgiving, but this is around the time of the first “X-Men” movie. CGI wasn’t up to today’s standards, but there were still better ways to blend it with real action.
Doesn’t live up to the horror standards of the original, but the action is fun as long as you are willing to avoid asking questions.