It’s difficult to remember a time when a movie based on a Marvel comic wasn’t a guaranteed success but that was the prospect facing vampire action movie Blade. Comic book movies were not the sure thing they have become today and there is something about Blade as a movie which demonstrates this really well. For starters, it is not a film aiming for a demographic under the age of 15.
This is made very clear from the outset, in a cool sequence involving a young man finding himself led unknowingly into a club for vampires. After a blood soaked dance party, our hero enters and in a fantastically choreographed and effortlessly cool action scene, dispatches the room and sets-up the movie. Helping this come across is the perfect casting of Wesley Snipes. Before Keanu Reeves made shades and leather look cool, Snipes was using it to hide epic swords and massive guns and fight hordes of bloodsuckers.
These action sequences continue throughout and some are staged perfectly. From a battle in a mirrored room, a takedown in a hospital through to the epic finale, you can’t fault the mix of 90s beats, leather and martial arts that Snipes combines without breaking a sweat.
The film isn’t just about the action sequences though and there is a very good story that these sequences revolve around. The film makes some effort to build a believable world around Blade, from old world vampires, the under-class new blood, ancient gods and Blade’s history itself, it manages to weave together a plot with layers while keeping focus on the villain’s motivations.
That villain is played by Stephen Dorff and while he would never feel like a convincing match for Snipes, he does manage to create a decent enough threat and the final battle between the two works well-enough. That is until some dodgy CGI lets it down. In fact, that becomes a slight issue throughout the movie.
Its tough to blame a movie made in 1998 for the poor CGI, compared to today’s standards, but there are moments that completely take you out of the experience. It can’t be helped but it does become a hinderance. As does the very wild shifts in tone at points. Again, you can forgive director Stephen Norrington for not understanding how to translate aspects of the comic to the screen but some points are too silly and too weird and just don’t fit the movie. There is a very serious, cool action movie in Blade but some of the stranger moments over-shadow this slightly.
Overall, Blade is a great comic book movie made in a time before comic book movies were the norm. Snipes is excellent as Blade and delivers a cool action hero in some well-staged action sequences. The story is good too, not playing it too simple but instead trying to be ambitious with its plot. However, the movie has dated, the CGI struggles in places and the tone can vary too wildly.
Rating – 3.5
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