The Marvel Movies: Blade II (2002)
The “Aliens” of the “Blade” series, the sequel, directed by fantasy meister Guillermo del Toro (“Pan’s Labyrinth,” the “Hellboy” films), “Blade II” amps up the action, the horror, the blood and gore … everything, really, and more.
The sequel sees hybrid vampire Blade (Wesley Snipes) teaming up with the very vampires he hunts in order to defeat a mutant strain of vampires called Reapers, who feed on human and vampire alike.
Carrier X is Jared Nomak (Luke Goss), introduced in a wonderful turning on the head of the setup from the first film, where a vampire lures its victim in; here, the predator goes right into the lair of its prey, letting the vampires think they’re about to victimize some poor schmuck, only to be torn to shreds themselves.
Nomak draws the attention of the vampire overlord Damaskinos (Thomas Kretschmann), whose daughter, Nyssa (Leonor Varella), heads a team of elite vampire warriors.
Meanwhile, while it was more than hinted at that Whistler (Kris Kristofferson) offed himself in the first film, he’s back here with the rationale that the vampires kept him in stasis, halfway between vampire and human, and tortured him. Blade, along with his new weapons man,. Scud (Norman Reedus), rescues him and gives him a shot of some sort that supposedly cures him, but his allegiance is in question for much of the film.
The vampires approach Blade for a truce in order to hunt down and destroy Nomak and the Reapers he’s already created. But the ceasefire is an uneasy one, full of distrust and betrayal at every turn. And their task isn’t going to be easy either, considering garlic and silver don’t work on them and their hearts are completely encased by bone. Even if they’re decapitated, their bodies don’t die completely.
As mentioned, the amped-up stakes mean excess in every area. The gore is trumped up to the degree that we are brought into a vampire “safehouse,” which is basically a sort of S&M rave where vampires put razor blades in their mouths instead of pills and other vamps have their bodies cut open and their insides messed with. Later, we get a Reaper dissection scene.
With the ramped-up tension comes some great opportunities for horror, which is where the “Aliens” part comes in. Blade and the vampires infiltrate the Reapers’ nest, and we see the villains racing along walls, dropping in and swarming on their victims.
If there’s a negative aspect to the action, it’s the use of bad CG at times. During some of the fight scenes, the switch from real actors to CG is obvious because they suddenly look like rubber band men (and women). It’s distracting in a few sequences, but there’s a lot of really good actor-on-actor fight scenes to make up for it.
Snipes is again effective, but there’s also more of one drawback from the first film: his insistence on silly poses and the occasional dialogue meant to be comedic that goes against character. In the first film, we got an exaggerated fist pump after he dispatched a baddie; this time he blows a kiss … to his car. That’s not acting; that’s ego, which, we’ll learn, mars the franchise’s second sequel, “Blade Trinity.”
del Toro, though, crafts a thrilling picture, again making not so much a movie as letting us inside a fully realized fantasy world. It’s the best film of the series and one of the stronger Marvel pictures all around.
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