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IN SHORT: More accessible and gory than Number One. [Rated R for strong pervasive violence, language, some drug use and sexual content . 110 minutes]
We'll remind those of you who don't want to go back into the archives to find the review of Blade that we liked the beginning and the end and hated everything in between. Our site rules, about not having to know the Source Material, apply to sequels as well as books or teevee shows. We're not as anal about sequels since the odds are that a couple of years of word of mouth will have tipped you to enough of the background material. In this case, the half-human, half-vampire Blade (Wesley Snipes) has all the powers of a vampire but is able to walk in daylight. He has the need to feed on blood. His mentor slash weapons builder slash right hand human named Whistler (Kris Kristofferson) committed suicide after being infected by the vampire virus in episode one.
You know what they say. You can't keep a good man down. . .
Blade II doesn't need to carry all the origin baggage that Blade did. All you need to know is covered by a voiceover that plays during the title credits. Like Blade, every time you think the thing is coming to an end, no, there's even more to come. Unlike Blade, writer David Goyer kept his story simple this time. While we no longer possess the lack-of-attention span that we did at seventeen, we had no trouble sitting for Blade II. Translation: we weren't bored out of our skulls. More important: if we had been able to rev up the old comic book reading teen brain enthusiasm -- and all 70 issues of Tomb of Dracula sleep soundly in a longbox on the other side of our living room -- we have no doubt that we would've been fanboy drooling happy. From gore to effects to attitude, Blade II is superior to Blade. The four letter words in the language is about the same. The look, which runs from gleaming metal hi tech SF to dark and dank vampire lairs, is terrific. Under del Toro's direction and Carol Spier's design, Blade II looks remarkably like the best of the Gene Colan/Tom Palmer art from the original TOD. Looking like the comic is what the filmmakers wanted. It's what they achieved. That being said, none of the fans at our local comic book store bought for a minute the idea that hunter and hunted could team up.
Picking up two years after Whistler blew his brains out, Blade II begins with the battle to save the man, who has proved to be better at slaughter than at suicide. Blade injects the old man with some kind of high tech serum to clean the vampiric infection out his system. If the serum doesn't work, Blade will pull up the blinds and let the sunlight ensure that Whistler will whistle no more. If the serum works, well, no one ever said Blade was smart enough to use it on himself or on the members of the Vampire Nation who don't wish to rule the world. Onwards...
Whistler's place on the sidekick walk of fame now belongs to a guy named Josh, but "you can call me Scud" (Norman Reedus). All three of 'em go into action when their secret warehouse base of operations in Prague is infiltrated by a horde of vamps clad in black from head to toe, with infrared visors clamped over their eye sockets. We'll ignore the fact that vampires can see in the dark (later confirmed in the dialog) 'cuz these men in black, so to speak, are on a Mission of Peace. The lovely Nyssa (Leonor Varela) and strong armed Asad (Danny John Jules) lead our heroes to the lair of the Vampire Overlord, Eli Damaskinos (Thomas Kretschmann), Nyssa's dad, who lays out the problem.
As much as they fear the Blade, the Vampire Nation fear Jared Nomak (Luke Goss), the very first in the line of the next step up the ladder of the vampire evolutionary scale, even more. Not only does this new, superpowered vampire reaper hunt and kill all the ordinary suckheads, once dead they turn into the same kind of supervamp. The appeal to Blade is based on the logical assumption that, once all the vampires have been reaped, Humans will be next in line.
Blade is teamed with "the Bloodpack," the Nation's own team of Hunters. Taking command provokes the leader of the pack, Reinhardt (Ron Perlman), which will provide story fireworks down the line. The hunt for the growing legion of Reapers, whose feeding method resembles the activities of some fondly remembered aliens, forces this pack to do the unthinkable. Hunt by day. The pack isn't thrilled with the idea as, somewhere along the line, they've misplaced those nifty head to toe black sheaths sported at the top of the show. We'll ignore that glitch, too, <g> and leave the rest for you to discover.
The tone of Blade II is a shade lighter than numero uno -- Blade actually cracks a couple of smiles in this one. A full range of action and emotion, from betrayal to love to torture, fills what is left. Yeah, love. Then, and only then, is the true story revealed. And ended. Again and again and again. This time out, no problems for us.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Nine Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Blade 2, he would have paid . . .
If you liked Blade, you'll have no problems here. Would we tell you to rush out and see it if you didn't like #1? Not unless your in the midst of a testosterone rush.
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