Hello and Hallo-welcome to another edition of Sequel Sundays, where we give second (and third) films second chances. You join your reviewers, Andy and Lilly, as they get their sunglasses and suit up in leather for an adventure with a certain hunter.
Today’s film offering: Blade II
Lilly: For those of you who only know Wesley Snipes from his brilliant role of Noxeema Jackson in To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar (which was the case for me), the Blade films are based off comics starring vampire hunting Blade, a human with vampire traits (or a “daywalker”) that hunts vampires. The first film features Blade storming about the place, making life difficult for any vampires that think they can get one by him.
Andy: It helps that the vampires in the Blade universe are ridiculously vulnerable to just about everything.
Lilly: Some mother effers are always trying to ice skate uphill, or so the ever-wise vampire hating Blade quoted in the first film, and the second film carries on in the same vein. After getting rid of a vampire that had been pesky to the vampire higher ups, Blade is asked to step in by the monarchy (of the vampire world) to help with a pest control problem.
Andy: Of course, in the first film, it appeared like the vampires were ruled by a council of Elders, which raises interesting questions about who is actually in charge of vampires. Also, can you have a nation without any land? Genuine question.
Lilly: Anyway, we end up with Blade hunting a super vampire with a super vampire disease that infects those bitten and turns them into Reapers, or vampires wrapped around a parasite that needs blood (and will feed off the host if it can’t get it from an outside source). Why not! He joins a team of vampires who have been training for This Day by training to hunt him–fun!
Andy: The scene where they break into his base to get him to join them has some of the most hilariously bad CGI I have ever seen (seriously guys, just green screen or something. Never, ever do this) but it’s made up for by Blade’s introduction to the team. He’s not much of an inspirational leader, but the way he gets a bunch of bloodthirsty psychos who hate his guts to follow his orders is really, really funny.
Lilly: Blade II was directed by Guillermo del Toro, and boy does it ever show. Whimsically gross death scenes and vampire biology that comes to be the focus of his Strain series, you see touches of del Toro from the creature design to the fact that Ron Perlmen is in it. And let’s talk about those creatures! Unique Reapers with a design more like a parasitic organism than any vampires going today, and the actual vampires are like 90s rave wet dreams in leather with fierce gold eyes. The characters of Blade II are creative right down to the fact that the vampire Lord has blue blood. Ha! Get it?
Andy: AND he looks like the vampire from Cronos, which is kinda cool.
Lilly: As vampire films go, this is a lot in line with the Underworld series, wherein they are action films that feature vampires. Blade II has vampire politics (purebloods and half breeds, etc.), a sub-plot of power struggles within the rank of a unit, and then you suddenly find yourself in a conspiracy plot to boot. Then there is all the stuff with Whistler, an old ally Blade was hunting at the beginning of the film who needs to have one eye on him at all times in case the torture he underwent left him a bit undependable. It’s engaging, and treated like a serious thriller, not just a CGI fest with vampires that has a bit of plot.
Andy: Oh yes. It’s almost like this is a dry run for the other big del Toro superhero Hellboy. There’s a real style to the whole thing that makes it cool, bt a very different kind of cool from the first film.
There are, however, some problems.
Andy: The bad CGI I’ve already mentioned – this is not a problem that really goes away at any point, as many fight scenes feature this ‘enhancement’.
Lilly: An ‘enhancement’ which has CGI Blade moving a bit like the guests at your park in Roller Coaster Tycoon when you pick them up, all weird movement and limbs not quite swaying right.
Andy: Another is that while the fight scenes are fun, there are a few moments where you just think to yourself “Wait a minute – did he just suplex that guy?” Wrestling moves are purposely designed to be big, flashy and not actually crippling. When you’re supposedly fighting for your life, a different approach may be in order.
Lilly: I smelt what Blade was cookin’, is all I’m saying.
Andy: However, it is fun, and a worthy companion to the first film and an interesting alleyway of Guillermo del Toro’s career.
Lilly: Absolutely. I’d give it a chance if you are into horror action films, though watching Blade first is definitely needed. Unlike some sequels, there are a good few tie-ins in this one that could stand the background information. So, watch both! Heck, throw in Blade: Trinity and have yourself an evening in with Wesley. Why not. Enjoy!