I groaned when Guillermo del Toro’s Blade II (2002) was programmed for the Thursday Horror Picture Show. I hadn’t much liked it on its original release, though I admit circumstances had some bearing on my response. (My viewing companion was — well, not quite sober and unhappy to be there. A disagreement ensued that ended up with me having to return to see the rest of the movie the next day. Far from ideal.) So a second look was probably called for. And I admit I liked it better this time, though I don’t really think my original review is that far off-base. All the wire-work fighting does tend to bore me. I don’t like the music. And once you see 40 or 50 vampires killed in a blaze of crumbling glory, the effect wears thin. I’ll throw in a new observation — Blade (Wesley Snipes) is basically one boring character. (I suspect this is why he is surrounded by more interesting supporting players.)
All that aside, Blade II is a gorgeous looking film (well, it’s del Toro, so it would be), and does effectively expand on the Blade character. Blade as a vampire and part human (he can walk in the daylight), who keeps his vampiric tendencies at bay through injections has dramatic limitations. The business of him going around hunting down vampires is only good for so much amusement. Combining it with a plot in which the vampires call on him to help eradicate a threat to both them and humankind offers a little more to work from. Add to this a plot that not only works on the inherent tension in such a relationship, but contains deeper, more complex aspects of duplicity, and there is more to the film than might be casually assumed. It remains little more than a footnote in del Toro’s career, but it’s a footnote that almost seems more significant than the staggering behemoth of his more personal Pacific Rim from earlier this year.
The Thursday Horror Picture Show will screen Blade II Thursday, Sept. 26, at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina Asheville and will be hosted by Xpress movie critics Ken Hanke and Justin Souther.