Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Guillermo del Toro Retrospective: BLADE II

Blade II
Starring: Wesley Snipes, Kris Kristofferson, Ron Perlman, Leonor Varela, Luke Goss, Norman Reedus, Matt Schulze
Rated: R

Guillermo del Toro was brought back into Hollywood thanks to having a big fan in David Goyer.  When it came sequel time for Blade and Stephen Norrington bowed out, Goyer went with a director he was a big fan of.  And this time, for Guillermo, these guys were going to sit back and let him do his thing.  This was going to be a bit more free reign than his first foray.  He accepted the script provided and didn't really make any major changes.

The film reunited him with Norman Reedus, Ron Perlman and is his first with Luke Goss.  Not only does he bring some of his cast, but del Toro makes this movie his.  This a lot more detailed film than the previous entry.  The first movie was trying hard to be "hip", "real" and "cool".  This film has no problem being a monster movie.  There are actual monsters here and the settings are well crafted.  The banter and such is much more playful.  The fight scenes are very much from the pages of a comic book or play out like a live action anime film.
The story is more smaller, behind closed doors, but the repercussions of what is going on could be very huge.  The plot pits Blade joining sides with the vampires.  But his mission isn't all it seems to be as a big double cross is in play.  While somewhat surprising its all a little bit expected by the time you get to the endgame.

While I liked this film more on this viewing than I did my previous (theatrically in 2002), I'm still not a very big fan of it.  Visually its very cool and a lot of the fights are very fun.  But a bunch of said fight scenes are Matrix-inspired too.  And while the movie wants us to think so, there's not a whole lot going on in it that warrants the 2 hour runtime.  Its basically...go here, fight vampires, a couple die or are wounded.  Go to the next place, repeat.  I don't mind the simplicity but the film kind of wants to think otherwise.
I have little pet peeves as well.  Does Norman Reedus have to smoke a joint every two seconds?  I get he's supposed to be the "cool" guy for all the geeks to want to be but damn.  Its hard to picture that guy in anything and not imagine him smoking a cigarette or something haha.  Also, Leonor Varela gives a pretty terrible performance and she's around for the WHOLE movie.  The whole UV thing is kinda dumb to me and a cheat.  When we saw the movie in the theater my friends and I joked about the "Blademobile" and would flash the brights on James Brindel's Expedition and scream like we were killing vampires the whole way home from the theater.  Again, nit picky things, but this is the stuff that has sat with my about this movie for 10+ years.
Blade II is a nice and happy return to Hollywood for Guilermo.  There's lots of seeds planted for the cool things we'll see in the Hellboy movies here, too.  I'm not high on Blade II but many consider it the best of the franchise.  I would need to revisit the first one before I could make that assumption, but I'm pretty confident its a better made film than the first.

So, next time, we're doing HELLBOY!

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