Combustible Celluloid
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With: Wesley Snipes, Stephen Dorff, Kris Kristofferson
Written by: David S. Goyer
Directed by: Stephen Norrington
MPAA Rating: R for strong, pervasive vampire violence and gore, language, and brief sexuality
Running Time: 120
Date: 08/19/1998

Blade (1998)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Daywalking Tall

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

I remember enjoying Stephen Norrington's Blade a great deal on a first viewing. But twenty years later, it hasn't aged well. Based on the Marvel comic, Blade (Wesley Snipes) is a "dhampir," born with certain vampire powers after his pregnant mother was bitten. Teamed with Whistler (Kris Kristofferson), who makes weapons and otherwise assists Blade, he uses his powers to take out actual vampires. It starts well, with none other than Traci Lords leading Blade to an underground vampire rave. He rescues Dr. Karen Jenson (N'Bushe Wright), a hematologist who is bitten and vows to find a cure before it's too late. Meanwhile, the vampire Deacon Frost (Stephen Dorff) is launching a plan to conquer humanity. There are plenty of jerky fights and some attempts at cool dialogue, and some rather sad-looking CG visual effects (who knew that computer effects could age as badly as practical effects, perhaps even worse?). It also tries the patience at a full 120 minutes. Yet it's also possible to categorize this as a "B" movie with nothing at stake, especially given the brief presence of Lords as well as hammy Udo Kier, and find some enjoyment in its silliness. Guillermo Del Toro stepped things up for his more personal, more visual sequel Blade II (2002).

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