All right, look. Nobody is arguing that Blade Trinity is some sort of secret masterpiece or even what the “Norms” might call a “good movie” or “well made” or “not terrible.” I do, however, think the Internet Hate Machine is a bit overzealous in its dismissal of it. Yes, it’s incoherent and stupid, but Blade says things like “I was born ready, motherfucker” so, dear hater, I posit that you aren’t ready for this movie, motherfucker.
Let’s start with the usual complaints.
Your tired notions of “good” and “bad” do not apply. Stop letting such silly notions as “storytelling” and “writing” and “editing” and “performance” and “direction” and “scoring” and “production design” get in the way. Yes, the blocking and general stagecraft are nonsense and sometimes the movie forgets to finish its thoughts. More than once, The edit interrupts lines of dialog mid-syllable. The ADR is crap. This is a broken movie. But again, we’re behaving as though such metrics mean a goddamn thing. Put a stop to this, plebes. Blade Trinity cares not.
A fair number of folks argue that this isn’t really a Blade film, that it abandons the heart of the character in favor of a bunch of random white dorks who sap the film’s focus, that it more or less squanders the goodwill that the first two films built. Here we had a strong, smart as hell, legitimately badass black vampire superhero taking a sword to the throat of rich assholes until Blade Trinity came along and made him a mute dipshit. At times he’s pouty and barely present and these shiny new white kids saunter in and steal the show from him. But all told, stories of his absence from the final film were exaggerated. Yes, he’s made to share the stage with a large cast of heroes, but he’s absolutely and thoroughly present and powerful and charismatic as ever; there’s no film without him.
Behind the scenes, things reportedly got a bit ugly. Rumor tells us that Snipes sniped and sulked in his trailer complaining about the general shittiness of the role, drinking or snorting or whatever and bailing altogether on whole scenes, frustrated with the third-wheeling of an iconic character to make room for a couple of Poochies. But, look. I don’t know Wesley Snipes. He seems like a confident man who knows when shit’s gone wrong and David Goyer isn’t exactly Guillermo Del Toro. Blade Trinity was never going to carry on the previous films’ formal accomplishment. I’d probably have given Goyer the finger and pouted in my trailer too. Those trailers are sweet. And I wouldn’t want to have to babysit these precious new children who have seized my fucking movie.
That said, the great accidental magic of bad ideas paired with unholy amounts of money created beauty from the void. I’m going to learn you some things.
It Has a Thing to Say About Race
Goyer didn’t completely forget the relevance of the enterprise in his eagerness to play with new toys.
There is a surprisingly loaded scene, early in the film, when an evil white psychiatrist tries to humansplain to Blade, who’s cuffed in a police interrogation room, that his nature is all wrapped up in sexual confusion. Blade, of course, has no interest in this conversation – why is this white human creep trying to tell Blade how his dick works? The fetishization of black male sexuality is a cornerstone of Western pornographic canon; it impresses me that Goyer chose to put such a strong point on this in the middle of his very stupid vampire movie. This reduction of Blade to a penis, it’s a mechanism for the insecure white nerd to assert control over a scary / sexy black body. To assert ownership. When Blade doesn’t play along, the doctor nerd immediately brands him psychotic. Goddammit, If I can’t control the man whose sexuality thrills / perplexes me, if I can’t fuck him, I’ll call him a psycho and throw him in the clink.
With all the visual nuance of a poo emoji his next move is to try and drug Blade – giving him a sizable dose for a “big strapping hybrid such as yourself.” His wants to penetrate Blade with his tiny needle while masking his attraction with contempt.
White supremacy laid bare, ladies and gentlemen. In the middle of Goyer’s very stupid vampire movie.
It Has Jessica Biel Who is Jessica Biel
Jessica Biel plays Abigail Whistler as portrayed by Jessica Biel and that’s a fairly inarguable point. In her first scene, Abigail sets herself up as bait in order to trap and dust a bunch of dumbass vamps. I like to imagine Goyer pitching her character as a new Buffy. While brushing his teeth on a Tuesday he said to himself, “David Goyer, I want to do that, but with television’s Jessica Biel.” And he sort of did? Biel is dope in this with her stiletto-toed boots and garlic sneezing dolls and iPod playlists full of sweet acid dance tracks. AND SHE HAS A LIGHTSABER! Sort of! It’s a magical laser bow that slices faces off and she wields it like it’s a breakfast burrito or a tape measure.
Biel gives this all sorts of seriousness and focus. Her fight choreography is excellent, she hits her lines with energy and force, and she looks as intense as a person can look when being Jessica Biel practicing archery.
In a just world, Jessica Biel would have become a bonafide action star. But his world is unjust and cruel. I think Blade put it best in the film Blade Trinity, when he says “the world is not a nice place.” No it is not, Blade. It is not a nice place.
It has a Dracula Called Drake
Let’s talk about the film’s Dracula, played by Dominic Purcell, aka the straight guy with muscles in place of a neck from Prison Break. In this film Dracula is known as Drake. DRAKE. Drake. Drake the vampire.
I shall call him Prison Drake.
He is, we are told, the patriarch of Hominus Nocturnus.
There’s this unassailably magnificent sequence of Drake strutting in slow-motion through the streets, day and night, his chest heaving chestily from his open-chested blouse.
When he pops into a goth hot topic or whatever the fuck it is he loses his shit over the commodification of his mythology because Dracula has no time for your late-stage capitalist cynicism. Even so, it isn’t the Dracula-shaped dildos at the goth shop that send Prison Drake over the edge and murdering walls of Ankhs. No, It’s the audacity of the boy who works there who says “you want to kiss me?” I don’t think Dracula would particularly give a shit about 2004 sex hang-ups but what do I know. Jokes about men kissing or fucking other men trigger a lot of violence in the film, and our neckless Dracula is no exception.
The final fight between Blade and Prison Drake is wildly stupid wire-porn until Prison Drake monsters up.
Vampires in this series have that nasty side-mouth thing that they learned from studying the predator, and it’s cool and gross.
It has HHH and his Puppers
It has Parker Posey as a Goddamn Supervillain
Parkey Posey is a goddamn supervillain and there is never a bad time for Parker Posey as a goddamn supervillain. Or a goddamn anything.
It Has Jokes
I even sort of like Ryan Reynolds as Hannibal King in this thing. He’s early in his decade-long, pre-Deadpool, serial failure of an action career, demonstrating his comedic chops with material that only he has the foul-mouthed dudiness to deliver, including the insult that woke Shakespeare:
“YOU COCK-JUGGLING THUNDERCUNT”
This gets daily use in this household.
Reynolds is pretty unformed and obnoxious here but still does fine work deploying most of the R-rating’s allotted fucks and shits and such and god bless him for that. Also, these abs:
Goyer didn’t just want his own Buffy; he wanted his own Scooby gang. For this, in addition to Biel and Reynolds, he cast Patton Oswalt and Natasha Lyonne. I love that Blade walks into a room full of now well-known comedic powerhouses and demands to know whether they all think the whole thing is a joke, a sitcom. No, I’m serious, he literally asks them this with these words:
“Do you think this is a joke? Do you think this is a sitcom?”
BLADE KNEW. He always knew. Fucksake. If I was Blade I’d go pout in a trailer too. Snipes sells his frustration with these dorks and we love them slightly less as a result.
Above All Things, It’s a Blade Movie
I’ve made my case. Snipes’ Blade is a landmark character, he ushered in the modern comic-book superhero era with an ambitious trilogy of films that respect their source material and their audience. The Marvel Cinematic Universe exists because Blade showed us that these films can work. At worst, Blade Trinity is a slapdash capper to an otherwise successful experiment. At best, it’s funny, entertaining, and more thoughtful than it needs to be.