Saturday, December 10, 2011

Marvel Media Mania: Blade

Blade, released in 1998, starred Wesley Snipes as the title character. It had been a long time since I watched it so I wasn't sure what to expect. I was very pleasantly surprised. Blade remains a highly enjoyable film. As always - spoiler alert!
Blade, in many ways, was the launch of the Marvel Media Revolution. Quickly following Blade we were given X-Men and Spider-Man films and the rest is history! Although Blade is certainly not a Superhero film, it was one of Avi Arad's very early successes that game him the steam needed to launch more ambitious projects.

This film is surprisingly low budget at $45M. There are very few CGI effects (primarily because CGI was just beginning to be used in 1998) and, yes, they do show their age a little bit but because they're used so sparingly it doesn't detract from the film.

Perhaps the best aspect of this film is the style. For whatever reason, it just comes across as being very cool. The opening vampire nightclub sequence is cinema gold. When Blade draws a semi-circle on the ground with the tip of his blade before kicking vampire tail it's awesome. The fact that Blade always gets his sunglasses back is reminiscent of Indiana Jones and his hat. Even though he fights in blood-soaked environments, Blade never seems to get dirty. I liked how they explained how Blade financed his anti-vampire crusade: by robbing his victims! The tone of the film is excellent - a dark pulse of action and emotion.

This film does things with vampires that I had never seen before. One such instance was the ultra-fat vampire, Pearl. Another was when Frost (the main bad guy) rips out another Vampire's eye teeth as evidence of his death. Awesome! The teen girl who Blade mistakenly takes for an innocent but turns out to be a ninja vampire is another.

Another positive for this film is the emotional bonds for the characters. Just watching Wesley Snipes fight vampires with karate for two hours is okay but it doesn't mean anything without emotion behind it. It was a brilliant move to bring back Blade's mother. As a first time viewer, you never see it coming! The fact that she now aligns herself with the vampires against her own son and Blade has to kill her gives the film emotional weight. Another surprising return is when Karen's ex-lover returns from a short scene in the beginning of the film.

I can definitely see this film's influence on the 1999 film, Matrix. From the all-black dress code (except for one girl who wears all white) to the lobby shootout with cops/security guards Blade obviously blazed a stylistic path for the Matrix.

While not very quotable, this film does manage to have some good one liners. Blade snarls, "The world you live in is just a sugar coated topping." At another time, Frost brilliantly says to Blade, "Spare me the Uncle Tom routine," which, of course, has multiple meanings since Blade is not only African American but also a vampire living like a normal human.

I always get a little confused when films try to explain vampirism in scientific terms. Vampires are affected by garlic, silver, and sunlight but not crosses and holy water. But the entire plot of the movie revolves around a mystical ceremony so why discount religious symbols? Also, the vampires make a distinction between those born human who are turned into a vampire and "pure bloods" who are born a vampire. How can one be born a vampire? Are vampires actually capable of sexual reproduction?

All in all, this is an excellent movie. If you've never seen it, you've got to check it out.

1LR Review - 18 out of 20 - It's a Solid Hit!

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