After the success of Blade and its sequel, Blade II, it was inevitable that another film would follow. Blade: Trinity was released two years after the second film in the series. This time, David S. Goyer, script writer for the first two films, was also given the director’s chair. So how did the franchise fare with Goyer at the helm for the first time?
We open with some voice-over narration, reminding us that Blade hunts vampires. Cut over to an ancient temple in Iran, and a group of vampire archaeologists. Something erupts from the ground, killing one of the team.
Blade meanwhile is doing what he does best – killing vampires.
Some escape in vehicles and he pursues them, killing off until the last one crawls from a crashed car. Blade stands over him and shoots him with the usual silver stake BUT…this isn’t a vampire, just one of their human familiars.
The vampires have just caught Blade on film, killing an unarmed human.
This brings the FBI into the hunt for Blade, and soon they mount an attack on his base – Blade is captured and Whistler killed (again).
The vampire archaeologists have returned to the US, bringing with them the progenitor of the species, Dracula, although for the remainder of the film he is referred to as Drake. The vampires are hoping he can renew the species. He has many abilities they have lost, including the ability to walk in daylight and change his appearance to impersonate other people.
Drake is unimpressed with the state of his descendants, hiding from the humans and living in fear of Blade.
Both the police chief and Vance, the psychiatrist sent to evaluate Blade, turn out to be familiars, conspiring against the FBI to deliver a heavily sedated Blade to the vampires, who arrive (posing as medics) to collect him. They’re about to move him when the window bursts in and a man arrives, beating up the vampires and providing Blade with a dose of serum to rouse him from his drugged state. They escape into the corridors, meeting up with a heavily armed woman. The three manage to break out of the building and get back to their base.
The pair introduces themselves as Hannibal King, a cured vampire, and Abigail, Whistler’s previously unmentioned daughter from after his first family was killed by vampires. They are part of a team of hunters called the Nightstalkers, who also include a blind computer whiz, a weapons designer, and a couple of others who make little impression and are disposed of in short order.
Blade, Hannibal and Abigail go on the hunt for familiars, killing many before visiting Vance, only to find he has been killed by Drake, who wounds Hannibal before leaping from the window.
They return to the Nightstalkers’ base and Blade is shown the possible final solution to the vampire problem – an engineered virus that attacks vampires. It is currently experimental and only partially effective, but if it was exposed to Drake’s DNA, the pure vampire strain, it could be made 100% lethal.
Blade and Abigail leave to hunt, finding a blood farm filled with comatose humans, which they promptly shut down. While they’re away vampires attack attack the base, killing most of the Nightstalkers and taking Hannibal, who was still recovering from his wounds.
Blade and Abigail attack the vampires’ headquarters, rescuing Hannibal and cutting a swathe through the undead. Blade stabs Drake with the virus, which acquires Drake’s genetic template and then spreads through the building, killing all the remaining vampires.
In the aftermath, the FBI arrive, finding Blade’s body…
At this point there are a few different possibilities, depending on which version you watch. In one version, Blade wakes up during his autopsy, possibly attacking a nurse, indicating that he may be losing the fight against his vampire nature. The other version shows the body reverting to Drake’s appearance.
Either way, Blade rides off into the sunset.
There is a third ending where, having destroyed the vampires once and for all, Blade turns his attention to another menace – werewolves!
So, how does it measure up overall?
This is a film with problems.
Blade: Trinity has too many plots going on, and doesn’t seem to know what to do with most of them.
- Vampires have brought Dracula back from the dead.
- The FBI is chasing Blade.
- There’s a new team of vampire hunters.
- The vampires are farming the homeless.
- There’s a virus that can totally wipe out vampires.
Two of these plots go nowhere, and the others get shuffled together rather haphazardly and resolved at the end in a rush. Concentrating on a couple of the threads would have helped to focus the film.
Whistler dies – again.
This just emphasises how stupid it was bringing him back for the second film. In his place, we get the Nightstalkers, who instantly fall into the same pattern as the Blood Pack in the previous movie – two characters you remember, and a bunch of others who get a single distinguishing characteristic (if they’re lucky), then die to make the situation feel more threatening.
Even Jessica Biel, as Abigail, doesn’t get much to do.
She’s Whistler’s daughter, she fights vampires, she makes playlists that she listens to while hunting (possibly the stupidest thing in the whole trilogy, seemingly only included as product placement) and that’s it. Nothing is made of the loss of her father.
On the other side, there is the team of vampires who dug up Drake. They’re led by Danica, played by Parker Posey, who seems to be channeling Fairuza Balk from the most deranged part of ‘The Craft’. She has almost no character, though her shrieking ‘Hannibal Kiiiiiiing!’ when he first bursts into the interrogation room is the funniest thing in any of the films.
Then there’s the one played by wrestler Triple H, and the one played by a Cylon from the Battlestar Galactica reboot. The only thing I can remember about them is that one of them has a vampire Pomeranian.
The only two characters worth discussing are Drake and King. Drake is simply not the dominating presence that Dracula, creator of the vampire race, should be. He only appears in half a dozen scenes and is almost forgotten between, rather than casting a pall over every other moment of the film (one reason why the numerous plot should have been culled). But in any case, the actor playing him does not project any kind of menace. Drake’s disillusionment with the state in which he finds his progeny has no impact on the plot, and ultimately he only exists to be used as an activator for the vampire virus.
Hannibal King, though… A lot of your opinion of the film will be coloured by what you think of King. I believe this is the first of Ryan Reynolds’ many comic book characters – although this is rather an ‘in name only’ appearance. In the comics, Hannibal was a vampire detective; here he’s a cured vampire out to take down the remaining undead, for some ill-defined reason – possibly just revenge. His character can be almost entirely defined as ‘wise-cracking’. Personally I found him reasonably entertaining, especially compared to the rest of the cast.
I mentioned in my review of the first film that one of its strengths was that Blade was a secondary character. Here he barely seems to rise that high, lost in the constant rotation of plots and characters. Nothing he does is driven by his own needs or desires. He is tricked into killing a human in plain sight, although the nonchalance with which he does it makes it hard to believe that this is the first time. That leads to his capture by the FBI and his rescue by the Nightstalkers and he then just falls in with their schemes.
There are reports that Wesley Snipes was angry about Blade being sidelined and so did not put much effort into the movie. There are other stories that Snipes’ lack of interest was the reason the filmmakers had to bring in other people to carry so much of the film. In either case, Blade doesn’t leave much of an impression here. In some ways, Trinity feels like a trial run for a spinoff series based on the Nightstalkers.
So, is there anything good about the film? Well, yes.
The direction by Goyer is competent enough. The fight scenes in particular are very well done, if somewhat ridiculous, with Abigail firing arrows around corners and an awesome (but impractical) fold-up laser blade. Whether that’s because Goyer has a talent for action, or just a really good fight choreographer, I don’t know, but it looks good. CGI enhamncement is used to much better effect than in Blade II, and there is weight to the impacts as people crash through walls.
The general design of the film is better than the previous film. del Toro went for a more baroque, if not Gothic, theme to some of his sets, with the urban and industrial aesthetic established in the first film relegated to a few locations at the beginning and the end. Here, we return fully to the former style and Blade feels more at home. The vampire headquarters is pretty impractical, seemingly a fairly narrow space of steel and glass staircases, but the final fight scenes make great use of it.
So that’s Blade: Trinity. The characters are paper thin and the plot lacks cohesion, depends too much on coincidence, and falls apart if you give it the slightest thought – and yet, I actually enjoy this a bit more than Blade II. Blade is an action franchise at its root, and I think the action here works better, if you don’t engage your brain. I’m in a minority on this. The box office takings dropped significantly from its predecessor and it was the end of Blade (so far) on the big screen.
But, his live action days were yet to come…
Steve works full-time for the NHS and tries not to spend too much of his day plotting out his series of vampire novels. Away from the office, he divides his time between playing games where he is a vampire, playing games where he hunts vampires, and playing with Lego (he has numerous Lego vampires).