Blade II -- **1/2 (out of 5) (2002)
Cast: Wesley Snipes, Kris Kristofferson, Ron Perlman, Luke Goss, Leonor Varela
Directed By Guillermo Del Toro
Although I am a fan of comic books, and enjoy Wesley Snipes work even when he is playing an expressionless monosyllabic badass, I was disappointed in the first film in what is now a series, BLADE. The main detraction came from a wimpy villain in Stephen Dorff and characters so flimsily written that they lacked the depth to truly care whenever they are in danger. While BLADE II is clearly a step up in many directions from the first film, including much more substantial and scarier villains, it hasn't really done enough in injecting a little more humanity into the main characters. BLADE II will probably please fans of the first film because it's arguably better, but if you require more in your entertainment than ass-kicking and explosions for two hours, BLADE II proves that better doesn't always equate to good.
Wesley Snipes returns as the title character, this time he must side with vampires to try to destroy Reapers, a much deadlier strain of vampires which are immune to silver and garlic, which are destroying vampires around the Prague area, and which are multiplying at an alarming rate. Along with Whistler (Kristofferson, apparently not dead from the first film), and a crew of well-trained combat vampires collectively known as the Bloodpack, the teams sets out to flush out all of the Reapers and save humanity (and vampires too) from certain extinction.
Derivativism is a main staple of comic books, and since BLADE's origins stem from them it shouldn't raise too many eyebrows that we have quite a bit of recycling. Director Guillermo Del Toro creates almost the same atmosphere and menacing bug-like villains he did with his previous work, MIMIC. David S. Goyer returns to pen the screenplay, but it should come as no surprise as to how the Reapers look, as they are bald and creepy, much like the creatures from DARK CITY, also a Goyer-written production. In all cases, they are a disgusting bunch of baddies that never fail to gross out the audience.
While Goyer does a better job in serving us with a more intelligent plot (holes notwithstanding) and Del Toro is clearly more skilled a director of horror than Stephen Norrington was for the first BLADE, the film still comes up far too short in the characterization department to be engaging. Snipes is not only a terrific actor, but shows his skills as perhaps the best American-born martial arts star working in films today, and the supporting cast does a fine job in being adequate enough not to embarrass themselves. Yet, whether Blade or Whistler (or anyone else) lives, dies, or is resurrected, we just never really care since we have no attachment to them. Subsequently, we can but sit and admire how cool the fighting scenes are, even if they are laden with CGI, and cringe at some of the films more gruesome gory moments, but this is not edge-of-your-seat stuff by any means.
I can only recommend BLADE II for fans of the original, as it is a step up in production all-around. However, if you didn't like BLADE, don't bother wasting time with this sequel. No matter how much they inject it with "coolness", this style-over-substance fright-flick is still more hollow than it is Halloween.
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