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Review: Blade (1998)

Blade (1998)

Directed by: Stephen Norrington

Premise: An adaptation of the Marvel comic book. Blade, a half-human, half-vampire becomes a protector of the human race against an organized underground syndicate of vampires. A branch of these vampires led by Deacon Frost (Stephen Dorff) breaks off and prepares to incite a revolution.

What Works: Blade is an impressive film. It was initially released amid a resurgence in comic book adaptations, but Blade is a different kind of film. Unlike some other adaptations of hard-edged comic book fare that pare down the adult elements, the film version retains the mature themes and goes for a hard R-rating. The action sequences are violent and well staged, on par with and surpassing similar scenes in other action films. At the same time, Blade created an intelligent universe with interesting characters and organizations. The world of Blade includes a very real cityscape that has more in common with films like Batman Begins than it does with the over-the-top style of Dick Tracy. The vampires that inhabit this environment represent an organized crime element that was new to vampire films at the time of Blade’s release and has often been imitated since. The relations between the vampire characters are rather interesting and give a sense of complexity to this universe. Wesley Snipes is well cast as Blade and he gives a strong and fun performance that makes him a memorable character. The villains play into the hard edged style and they dress and behave more like real characters while maintaining the flamboyance of  the comic book style. 

What Doesn’t: The ending is a bit underwhelming. The DVD includes an unfinished alternate ending that actually might have been better if it had been finished. In parts the dialogue does get a bit silly.

DVD extras: Featurettes, production design sketches, the original ending, and information on the vampire houses in the Blade universe.

Bottom Line: Blade came out nearly ten years ago and in the years since it has proven to be a very influential film. Echoes of it can be seen in films like Underworld and Blood and Chocolate and television programs like The Kindred and Buffy: the Vampire Slayer.

Episode: #135 (April 1, 2007)