Fri, Feb 18, 2005 - Page 16 News List

'Blade: Trinity' comes out with campy humor and no chills

Wesley Snipes gives a tired performance in the latest and possibly the last of the `Blade' movies

By Stephen Holden  /  NY TIMES NEWS SERVICE

Wesley Snipes goes through the motions in Blade: Trinity.


Wesley Snipes may have achieved the Hollywood dream of starring in a comic book franchise that doesn't require real acting, but he doesn't seem to appreciate his good fortune in the disjointed, overlong Blade: Trinity, which bills itself as the series finale. (Don't be so sure; at the end the door is left ajar.)

The Blade movies, which have allowed the star to coast for several years on box office insurance, demand only that the 42-year-old actor stay pumped up and ready for kung-fu action.

But the only emotion that his character, a glowering half-human half-vampire hunter of the undead, is able to muster in the third installment is a sense of mild irritation at having to go through the hassle.

Directed by David Goyer, who wrote the screenplays for the first two chapters, Blade: Trinity is a choppy, forgetful, suspense-free romp that substitutes campy humor for chills. You long for a moment as terrifying as the opening sequence in the first Blade when a vampire invasion turns a rave into a horrifying bloodbath.

Some of the silliest moments belong to a fanged Parker Posey as Danica Talos, a strutting, sneering bloodsucker dressed in black leather who radiates the sadistic glee of a psychotic dominatrix tweaked on crystal meth. The role suits the actress who typically conveys the hysteria of a needy exhibitionist who will trample anyone in her way to grab the spotlight.

Her scenes are matched in tongue-in-cheek drollery by John Michael Higgins' brief turn as Dr Vance, a nerdy psychiatrist assigned to interrogate Blade after he mistakenly kills a human and is captured by the FBI. A vampire ally who poses as a mealy-mouthed shrink, the good doctor pelts Blade with the kind of inane psychobabble that a 1950s psychologist might pose to an 11-year-old bully after a schoolyard fracas.

Film Notes

Directed by: David S Goyer

Starring: Wesley Snipes (Blade), Kris Kristofferson (Whistler), Jessica Biel (Abigail Whistler), Ryan Reynolds (Hannibal King), Parker Posey (Danica Talos), Dominic Purcell (Drake), John Michael Higgins (Dr Edgar Vance) and Natasha Lyonne (Sommerfield)

Running time: 114 minutes

Taiwan Release: Today

Blade: Trinity begins in the Syrian desert where Danika and a vampiric cadre tunnel beneath the sand to stir the world's first vampire, who goes by the name of Drake (Dominic Purcell), into action.

Drake's lethal potency far exceeds that of his descendants, whose powers have been diluted by centuries of cross-breeding with humans, and his resuscitation augurs a possible vampire global conquest.

At the same time, Blade is destroying a vampire lair and is caught by the FBI after an extended -- and dull -- car and motorcycle chase. He is rescued from captivity by a "sleeper cell" of so-called Nightstalkers, led by Abigail (Jessica Biel), the cool, resourceful daughter of Blade's mentor, Abraham (an aimless, mumbling Kris Kristofferson).

Abigail's wisecracking sidekick, Hannibal (Ryan Reynolds), is as fearless as he is rash and never at a loss for a cheeky barb, even when menaced. The Nightstalkers are aligned with Sommerfield (Natasha Lyonne), a blind scientist who has figured out how to rid the world of vampires with a biological weapon made from a sample of Drake's blood.

The movie's disjointed action sequences lurch toward an anticlimactic rooftop showdown between Blade and Drake, who in a final demonic flourish shape-shifts from thug to monster. The ultimate dispatching of the bloodsuckers into little sizzles of smoke and melted bone recalls the demise of the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz.

Blade: Trinity has one genuinely creepy moment. In a trip to an out-of-the-way warehouse, the Nightstalkers discover a sinister blood farm where the vampires hold human captives in suspended animation, simultaneously nourishing and draining these unconscious blood donors who are strung up in clear plastic cells. Think The Matrix recycled and done on the cheap, minus the metaphorical gobbledygook.

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