An extremely popular type of film has always been the vampire flick. From the silent days of film up to today, audiences seem to be enthralled by these tales of the undead that stalk the living, feeding upon their blood. This fascination moved into the graphic novel with books like Blade and eventually back to film. Blade (Wesley Snipes) follows a man that is half mortal, half vampire. This unique combination provides Blade with all the super human strengths of the vampire with out their weakness for things like silver, garlic and sunlight. Blade seeks out vampires, bent upon their destruction. Added by his mentor and long time friend Whistler (Kris Kristofferson) Blade uses his abilities to go up against a renegade vampire Decon Frost (Stephen Dorff). Frost is not only being hunted by Blade he is hated by the pure breed vampire council. Yes, there is even a social hierarchy among the undead. Blade meets up with a young hematologist Karen (N'Bushe Wright), bitten by one of Frosts henchmen, and he takes her into his lair to see if he can cure her of the virus responsible for vampirism. Yes, the plot here is a bit more than most action/adventure flicks posses but it does work here. The multifaceted storyline permits the actors in this film to explore their characters in greater depth than we usually see in this type of film. This is what projects Blade above its peers in this genre. There is the dark infrastructure directly from the graphic novel that sets the foreboding surroundings these characters inhabit. Blade is a reluctant hero, fighting his own personal demons. He has to embrace the vampire side of his persona in order to fight his enemies yet he is desperate to hold on to the human side all too often buried deep within. As the Daywalker Blade is feared by the vampires and must remain unknown to the humans he protects. He sees in Whistler the father he never had, another connection to the human within himself. The film juxtaposes this with the character of Frost. He is a rebel, unwilling to accept the fragile truce the vampire leaders have with humanity. Frost is as committed to furthering his kind as Blade is to their destruction. The battles between the two display more than a physical struggle, the fight is also fought between two extremely strong willed individuals.
Snipes was born for roles like this. He brings his trademark dark sense of humor to the role. He knows he is the baddest guy in town and he truly enjoys being able to overcome impossible odds during his battles. Blade is presented as just plain cool. Snipes commands the screen in every scene. He has an undisputed presence that will captivate the viewer. He is more than an action hero, he can actually act and present a multidimensional character tha will hold your interest even during the usually mundane expository scenes. Kristofferson is perfectly cast as the crusty old mentor. He projects a sadness to the character that tells more about Whistler than any amount of dialogue could provide. This is after all an intelligent actor. He has had a great career in music ad now is taking on character roles and making them into realistic presentations. Dorff is perfectly evil as Frost. Yet, there is an almost honorable side to his character. He wants his kind to reign supreme over beings he views as little more than a food supply. He is willing to go against the leaders of the vampire nation to further this goal.
Director Stephen Norrington may not have a lot of films to his name but with Blade on his resume he is certain to get many more chances to show his talents. In an action film containing more complex plot lines the pace of the film is all-important. Here Norrington shoves us into the fray within the first ten minutes of the film. The first action sequence sets the tome for the rest of the film. He does not rely upon CGI effects to tell the story; he leaves that properly to the actors. The film is a roller coaster; we go to the peak, rush down and move on to the next thrill. Its reassuring to see a director that does not treat his audience as mindless wallets filling the box office take. He gives us a film that excites the eyes while giving the mind a little tidbit as well. The lighting in this film is moody and surrounds the viewer in an atmosphere of dread. He does use some of the standard tricks of the trade such as time-lapse photography, but he limits their use. Norrington incorporates the audio masterfully into the film. The heart-pounding soundtrack is sure to keep you on the edge of your seat.
The disc is part of New Lines Platinum series. It is reference quality for both audio and video. The Dolby 5.1 sound field will pull you into the film. Check out the scene in the beginning where Blade tosses a weapon and you can hear it literally zoom around the room. The video is exceptional, holding up free of defect even in those scenes that transition between light and dark. There is a wealth of extras included on the DVD. I particularly enjoyed the commentary track featuring Snipes. His comments helped a lot in understanding the production of the film as well as the actors take on this participation. There is also an isolated score, featurettes of many aspects of the world created in the film and one describing the set design from pencil to post. DVD ROM features include access to the script and original screenplay. If you want to make your neighbors envious of your home theater put this disc in the player when you have them over. DVD player sales will increase as their run to stores to buy a system. This is a disc that is a must for your collection. Once again New Line Cinema scores big time with a quality disc and entertaining film.