Monday, May 16, 2005

Blade: Trinity – A Case of DISC/ontent

Okay, so as I hinted the other day in my “Rant,” I purchased the Blade: Trinity DVD over at Amoeba Music in Hollywood. Let it be said here and now that I am a bargain hunter when it comes to DVDs and Amoeba is my second home for finding great DVDs (and some not so great) at bargain prices. They have Kmart sized stores in Hollywood, Berkeley and San Francisco. You can find stuff there you can’t find anywhere else as people sell back their used DVDs, and when you factor in all the people in “the industry” who get free DVDs from everyone else in the industry you begin to understand the smorgasbord that is Amoeba Hollywood. On occasion you can see Mike Meyers, Elijah Wood, Glenn Danzig, Henry Rollins, Bill Lustig, Lindsay Lohan and I’m sure a whole host of “young Hollywood” I just didn’t recognize as I always have my head buried in the bargain bin.

So I’m flipping through the bins (the same bins where I found Jungle Jim, The Hills Have Eyes SE, Texas Chainsaw Massacre SE – all at bargain prices) and I come across this Blade DVD for $14.99. I reason it’s a good deal since I still have about $8.99 in store credit from the last time I was there. Six bucks and some tax money and I’m good to go. I think this is a really good deal since the package was pristine, still in the plastic wrap with the bar coded security wraps. It was also a good deal since it was a two-disc set. Sold!

I want my money back…

Before I get into the review itself, I’m going to set up the parameters of my review process so that you guys and gals don’t think I’m bitching and moaning and throwing sour grapes everywhere. When I give a review of a DVD, I do so with the idea of reviewing both the film itself and the DVD content. Both are extremely important in my industry as they feed one another.

In addition, my reviews will contain my thoughts and opinions as to how it could have been a better movie (and a better DVD). I want to be constructive here and not just spout off at the mouth (though there will probably be some of that too). I’m also going to relate some of this stuff back to my own work, thoughts and philosophy of moviemaking, writing and design – There is a reason this blog is called DISC/ontent.

The Movie:

I didn’t see this one at the theater, perhaps it was a sixth sense or whatever, but I knew it was going to stink enough for me not to waste my money at the Arclight Cinemas ($14 reserve seating, popcorn with real butter, great picture and sound especially in their digital theater – and ironically a stone’s throw away from Amoeba).
I guess what tipped me off to the potential borefest that is B:T, is the fact that Blade isn’t really center stage in this movie – he shares the limelight with Jessica Biel (hottie) and Ryan Reynolds (an even bigger hottie and more of a girl than Jessica). In the first movie, Blade found out his true origins. In the second, he overcame prejudice to deal with an even greater threat. In this installment…what?

Another major gripe I have with this movie is the fact that, oh yeah, Blade goes up against Dracula (played with some sexual ferocity by Dominic Purcell) the “Father of all Vampires”. And you know what? Nothing much happens there either except for the fact that he turns into a big horny demonoid and trashes a Vancouver penthouse office.

B:T is a movie about missed opportunities. Just when you think that the movie is going to come on strong and be really cool – it misses the mark. We don’t understand why exactly the vampires have resurrected Drac, excuse me, Drake. We expect some blood curdling scenes and instead get one-liners. In his final battle with Drake, Blade doesn’t have a hair out of place or a scratch on him. Not a mark on his scarlet turtleneck and leather vest anywhere. At the end, Blade should have bloody wounds across his naked, scarred chest. His clothes should be in tatters. Though he’s nearly dying he calmly gets to his feet and sheathes his bloody samurai sword and stands tall. And then he should say, “Next?” as the other vampires scramble for cover. After all, Blade just took out the “Father of all Vamps” right? He is the Father of all that they know – their myth, their legend, their God.

Oh wait, sorry. That’s the movie I was hoping to see. This wasn’t that movie. Instead we get a bunch of stuff we really don’t want to see:

1. Lots of Ryan Reynolds spouting off at the mouth.

2. We get Dracula as a demon, waaay too early in the show. That should be held for last. We also see Drac running away from Blade in the sunlight. Nope. We never want to see Drac in the sun. It takes away from the sexual predatory image that the character projects. I know Stoker said he could do it, but understand there’s always more mystery surrounding something that’s in the darkness.

3. They use Drac as an errand-boy? The other vamps should worship Dracula.

4. That stupid looking laser bow device.

5. Parker Posey as a vampire.

6. In the extended version of the movie we see the Nightstalkers hunting werewolves. Silly, silly werewolves in a Vegas casino.

The DVD:

This is where New Line cinema excels and almost makes up for the movie. Great behind-the-scenes features, audio commentaries and a DVD Rom feature that really expands on the movie (not that you’d really want that). You even get a comic book inside, the only problem is that it features lackluster art that looks cartoony. It’s a bad comic in that it looks like my niece drew it. It’s poorly colored and just shoddy. Marvel should be ashamed.

(Note: My niece is really talented - for an eight year old. My comment above is actually a slight on her for which I should apologize. She can draw better than the Marvel Blade DVD comic)

The interesting thing about the DVD is that in seeing all the features and whatnot you begin to see where this movie went so, so wrong. It boils down to the approach derived from the script. Yes folks, the writer’s to blame.

Goyer being in the director’s chair on such a big movie (his first was a smaller, intimate drama) is a mistake. Him directing his own material was a mistake. He was too close to it and didn’t give it that left brain critical view that a director gives a script. It was also not marketed from the ground up, meaning we didn’t know (or they didn’t tell us) the story. I really didn’t know why they resurrected Drac – was it to get rid of Blade? Was it to lead the vamps against the humans for good? Was it so that we could have a scene where Drac fucks Parker Posey? This story is so far off the tracks that it didn’t even get out of the station.

And that’s the great thing about DVD – you get to see these interviews and material after the movie and put the pieces together for yourself. Great fight segments, great special effects segments, casting, costuming – all leading into a bad story.

It seems everyone interviewed was touting the company line, “we wanted to do something different.” Well, guys, you did. You made a shitty movie out of what could have been a tremendous cap to the franchise. You went and did something different at the expense being good.


RogerRmjet said...

Haven't seen the movie, but I did read an interview with Goyer where he said he was really hamstrung by Wesley Snipes. Apparently, there were quite a number of things Goyer wanted that Snipes refused to do. Just hoping Goyer did a better job on Batman Begins. Working with Chris Nolan certainly put him in a better position.

Anonymous said...

I still blame Goyer, but...

Snipes' Taxing Life Spurs Lawsuit
Drugs, Stand-Ins, Mood Swings and Legal Action: The Real Wesley Snipes

Anonymous said...

Bill --

I still haven't unwrapped my B:T disc -- perhaps it's not too late to trade it in for Napolean Dynamite or something.

One question: you wrote something interesting in review/rant -- "Marketed from the ground up." Care to explain that. It seems intriguing and potentially useful.


Bill Cunningham said...

Marketing from the ground up would be the subject of a post and I'll work on that. Thanks.

Vampos Vulgar said...

I saw this at the Arclight with the spiffy picture and the fancy-dancy sound system. AND with Goyer himself to answer questions afterward.

The Q&A was...awkward.

Audience member: Gosh, Ryan Reynolds was sure funny (cough) in this action-horror film.

Goyer: Yeah, I tried to infuse more humor into this one. Has everyone seen my tattoos?

Audience member 2: So, do you have people that, uhm, READ your scripts before you send them out?

Goyer: I have a group of trusted readers. Hey, check out this snake tattoo, it's boss.

Aric Blue said...

Some things I loved about this movie, and when I say loved, I mean laughed at very hard--not in a good way.

Drac's been buried in the desert in the middle east for, what do they say, like 2000 years? He comes out and he's speaking English like no problem. Uh...huh?

Then they tout Drac as the uber-vampire, more powerful and dangerous than blah blah blah. And what does he do the first time he encounters Blade? He turns and runs away for like 5 minutes.

God, what a bad movie. I thought Reynolds character was the only good thing about it.