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Blade 2 (DVD)
Member Name: wampyrii
Blade 2 (DVD)
Date: 24/02/03, updated on 24/02/03 (190 review reads)
Advantages: Oh yes, lots, go buy it.
Disadvantages: It's Monday and I'd rather be in bed
When I first saw Blade at the cinema I wasn't impressed. I'm not too keen on the idea of modernising the old vampire myths and you don't get much more modernising than a half-human/half-vampire 'daywalker' kicking Vampire butt in modern day America with martial arts skills and a variety of high-tech weaponry! Subsequent watches drew me in to what is basically a comic book action movie with loads of action, some supremely camp moments and of course Wesley Snipes on top form which you just have to like.
Of course when I heard they were making a sequel I was first in the queue to see it - especially when I heard horror maestro Guillermo Del Toro was going to be the man behind the camera this time. I wasn't too keen on the idea of Whistler(who died supposedly) making a return, nor with the idea of Luke Goss(from 80's pop icons BROS) starring as Blade's most evil enemy yet, but none of that was going to put me off. I suppose I'm the wrong person to be reading a review from - fans aren't often the most reliable sources of information!
Well, a number of years after the original came out the 'Daywalker' is back and this time faced with a new menace, one which threatens vampire and humans alike, indeed one which threatens to upset the whole world order! Something new is stalking the night, something which feeds on vampires as its main source of food, something tougher, faster, stronger and more relentlessly evil than a vampire could ever be and they're worried. Worried enough to approach their sworn enemy and vampire killer extraordinaire Blade and offer a bizarre union anyway. The vampires have a deal, join with a specially trained team of vampires known as the Bloodpack to kill these creatures before its is too late, or watch the world be overrun by them. Tough choice, made tougher by the fact that the Bloodpack have been in training for two years with for one purpose alone - t
o kill Blade and they aren't too happy about working with him either! Still, together they are and the chase is on to find the ring-leader, the one who carries the new strain of vampirism which creates 'Reapers' before things really get out of hand...
Well that's about as much of the plot as you are going to get from me, part of the fun was watching it all pan out so I'm not about to spoil it. One of the really impressive things about this movie was that it has been so overwritten, most unlike your usual slice of chop-socky action flick anyway. Under the direction of Del Toro Blade has returned more action-packed, bloodier, more violent and with a darker more horrific element to it. Whilst the original may have been action packed and a little campy, this one has a darker much more horrific edge to it and for me that adds more flavour to the proceedings. Blade 2 takes the horror aspect of the original and quite literally turns up the gas to an eye-bubbling level which makes up for the lack of it in the original. The Reapers are severely nasty creatures, Novak's look reminding me(undoubtedly on purpose) of the clothing worn by lepers and plague carriers of bygone years - his being the worst plague a being could ever carry. Reapers have the look of Max Shrek's Nosferatu, but a hideously diseased Nosferatu, with scuttling spiderlike movements to strike true horror into the hearts of the viewer. It'll probably be the first time you'll feel sorry for a vampire anyway when one of these beasties gets hold of them...the first time you see a reaper 'put the bite on' is a real feast for the eyes!
In terms of acting you already know what to expect. If you've seen the original Blade then you'll know its Wesley Snipes show, this one being no different in some respects although its also very much Del Toro's too. As the ultra cool Blade he doesn't get to say much, but every word is measured to purvey too
things - he the coolest dude on the block, and if you mess with him, you're going to end up regretting it. Aside from Snipes, ultra cool, ultra kinetic performance is the surprise inclusion of Luke Goss as Novak, the carrier of the Reaper virus. Surprisingly he does a good job as well, I wouldn't be the first to admit to being a little worried about seeing him here, but yes, he does do a good job. I wouldn't say it was Oscar winning but it is a good performance where his could easily have gone way over the top like others who have tried and failed to make the transition into action - especially in this genre.
The Bloodpack themselves are mostly macho charicatures, highly under-developed other than those you know are going to survive a little longer than the others which is the only area where the movie falls down, but then its a common failing in action movies and I suppose the movie was long enough at 2 hours without spending more time developing the characters of vampires who were only there to look nasty and become Reaper fodder very quickly. Biggest disappointment was Kris Kristofferson returning from the dead as Whistler, because other than delivering a few cheesy one liners so that Snipes had even less to say and getting beaten up a lot his inclusion is more than a little pointless! He just seemed superfluous to the whole thing, but then perhaps he has a more important role to play in Blade 3 which is apparently already being written.
There's good and bad in most movies and this one has more good than bad although of course its not going to be to everybody's taste. The action is not stop, fast kinetic and well choreographed and with Del Torro behind the camera not only is the horror aspect ramped up but so too the action and suspense. It does get a little cheesy at times and at one point near the end one of the battle sequences looked like something which the WWF would have been proud of! Apparently, they wanted to make
each fight sequence different and I guess this one was to show Blade doing a little showboating so erm I guess it's forgivable. You're meant to be having fun anyway, not taking it seriously! If you forgive its shortcomings there is a damn good movie in here. In some ways you could liken it to Alien and Aliens in terms of ramping up the action and adding the 'bigger, better, faster, more' which all good sequels should have, in others you might find yourself put off by the step up in horror movie stylistics. If you liked the original, or want to see a movie which is certainly unique in its handling of subject matter then check this one out - Blade vs Blade 2...no contest!
Entertainment in Video have given us a stonkingly good DVD, or rather two DVDs, which are both superbly produced and jam packed full of excellent extras. Visuals are excellent, a superb 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer with crisp, clear, grainless images throughout and thankfully, considering the whole thing is filmed at night or in shady night-clubs, sewers etc., huge attention to detail has been paid to graduating the black palette to give the shadows a real depth. Sound too is excellent as we are given the choice of Dolby Digital EX 5.1 Surround Sound and DTS ES 6.1 Surround Sound which makes full use of your speakers...of course you'll need the right hardware to fully appreciate it but if you have, then this is an excellent disc. Everyone else will appreciate the crispness and clarity of the sound if nothing else.
What else? Well, the menu system is uncluttered and easily navigable. It gets straight into the menu rather than playing through a selection of cut scenes, or almost video game footage, as some others opt for which I personally find annoying. Subtitles are available as you'd expect, although they seem to be English only...not that that is going to matter to most reading this but it's worth noting...I guess. Umm, wel
l that's about as informative as I get with the techie kinda stuff...lol.
As I said, Entertainment in Video have really excelled themselves in terms of extras...and they're not just junk thrown in to pad things out but they are really excellent and entertaining extras too!
Disc One carries the movie itself and two commentaries, one from director and producer, the other from the writer and the star himself Wesley Snipes. Both are incredibly informative and hugely entertaining as well. One of the things I particularly liked about both commentaries is that those involved with the movie are 100% enthusiastic about their creation but at the same time recognise the limitations and aren't afraid to share them, and explain what they meant to show but to have a giggle about it when it didn't really work out. One section looks very much like a video game and on the DVD, with it's enhanced picture, it actually looks worse than at the cinema when I first saw this and they fully admit this part really didn't work and explain why. A little later they laugh about some of the cheesy lines in the script...it's refreshing to see those involved in the creation of a movie not being so umm, tight-arsed about their creation! You'll also find an awful lot of things revealed which you'll have not have considered when watching the movie and it's amusing to hear how Del Toro et. al. basically lied through their butt half the time to the studio so they could inject the horror elements they wanted to and got away with it because most of it was shot unchecked in Czechoslovakia...
Also on the first disc you'll find you can watch the entire movie with just the score running through it. Umm, why you'd want this is anyone's guess of course and they've cut out all the pumping techno during the fight sequences so even less reason to c
are. Still, someone might and it's nice to have it on here for that one person...lol.
Deleted/Alternate Scenes + Commentary
Onto the second disc now. Introduced by Del Toro as being "mostly crap", but actually very entertaining, you'll find the deleted/alternate scenes and as they've included even the most minor of cuts in here you'll find it all pretty comprehensive stuff once more. You can choose to watch them with commentary or without commentary, by selection or all played through at once...the only thing you can't do is add them into the movie and watch it with them added. Umm, not really a problem because they're often quite dire - some very cheesy scripting, an incredibly lame flashback to Blade as a weedy teenager, a vampire lord baring a terrifying resemblance to Michael Bolton...and a cum splattered peepshow window which, umm 'surprisingly' was picked up upon by viewers at a test screening and replaced by a plain window in the movie...all of that and much more here. I love this kind of thing and there's around 20-something minutes of it here.
A whole heap of documentary footage, interviews with cast and crew, loads of special effects and animatronics info.(very cool indeed!), behind the scenes footage, outtakes, B-footage and so on split up between several documentaries and sub-documentaries("The Blood Pact", "Sequence Breakdowns", "Visual Effects"). Far too much to talk about without boring your butt off(even more than already) just consider that if there is anything at all you wanted to know about this movie or how it was made then you'll probably find it in here! There's at least 3 hours of supplementary footage here, probably more...
Video Game Survival Guide
Erm, a trailer for the console game...which incidentally, isn't very good.
ypress Hill/Roni Size music video "Child Of The Wild West" - basically the usual rap video kinda thing cut with scenes from the movie. Was this on the movie soundtrack? I didn't notice... lol.
Theatrical Press Kit
The usual kind of thing, reasonably comprehensive actor and crew bios alongside some production notes. Great if you like reading through them, which I generally do...but only on rainy days when I've nothing else to do. I've had a skim through and they're relatively informative, if not exactly earth shatteringly exciting...are they ever?
The theatrical trailer and a teaser trailer. As I've said before, I don't really see the point of these on DVDs but they're here for completeness.
Art Galleries & Notebooks
Two separate features but I've lumped them together because I've not really taken the time to look through them closely yet...they're what I call ''rainy day'' extras, but if you're interested in filmmaking and set design then you'll probably find them enormously informative. Umm, basically there are comic book style storyboards, set designs, character designs, weaponry designs and all that kind of thing in the galleries and then the Notebooks extra gives you a step-through gallery of pages from the notebooks of Del Toro and the script supervisor which are full of doodles and ideas which were never used...sort of interesting, mainly unreadable...although if you can zoom and scroll around then you can pick up bits and pieces. Like I said, a rainy day feature for me. There are also three unfilmed script sections here as well to read through.
An absolutely stonkingly good DVD, a hugely entertaining movie from Del Toro with an excellent transfer to DVD in all respects and with masses of additional information and bits and pieces on the extras side of things and all pr
esented in a very professional and entertaining way. I think I gave the film a 5 star rating at the time of its cinematic relea
se (for sheer comic book entertainment value) and the DVD release easily achieves more of the same. Loved it, if only all DVD releases were this good...
(and just a quick note to 'Easter egg' lovers who own the Disc already...if you navigate through to "Visual Effects", scroll down to "Progress Reports" and then select Left and Up on your remote(revealing a vampire glyph) followed by Enter then you'll find a little extra footage...all be it bizarre lol)