Film Fridays is a project initiated by Sarah and I. After doing a daily music challenge for a month last year we talked about doing something similar for movies. The current global lockdowns give us the perfect excuse to start. Many of us are confined to home with only the TV for company so we thought we would start ‘Film Fridays’ so that we can talk about our favourite movies and hopefully give our readers some ideas for things to watch. If you join us please tag filmfriday and link back to one or both of us so we can read your own contributions!
We would be delighted if you would join us! We don’t necessarily want to talk about the nerdy technical details but more about why these films speak to us as individuals, why they have a place in out hearts, and any personal memories they evoke.
Sarah and I have shared our lists and decided to tackle them as written – in my case in alphabetical order because I am sad like that….
The trailer is on Youtube at:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kaU2A7KyOu4&t=6s
Blade is a human whose mother was bitten by a vampire whilst pregnant. He inherited all the vampire’s strengths but not their weaknesses, except the thirst for blood which is kept in check with an artificial serum. With the aid of his mentor, Whistler, he lives to hunt vampires and protect people from them. In this first movie he tackles vampire baddie Deacon Frost, who seeks to remove the restraints imposed by ruling vampires, and that have prevented wholesale slaughter.
You might argue that this movie has a lot to answer for. Blade was a Marvel comic book character created in 1973 and this movie was the first really successful Marvel adaptation – paving the way for what became the Marvel Cinematic Universe which has dominated the box office for the last decade.
The MCU has, until recently with ‘Deadpool’ and ‘Logan’ , made sure that its movies are rated around PG13 in order to put as many bums on seats as possible. Their surprise at the popularity of ‘Deadpool’ despite its adult rating seems odd when you realise that ‘Blade’ was similarly adult in tone and was a big success.
Blade makes no pretence of being high-art, but as an action/horror mashup it is hard to beat for entertainment. Wesley Snipes is made for the lead role and it is hard to imagine anyone else playing the character, even though a short-lived TV series recast the role, and a new actor has been cast for Blade rejoining the MCU in the near future. His physicality suits the character perfectly, though he handles the more nuanced parts of the script well too.
My favourite character is his mentor Abraham Whistler, played magnificently by Kris Kristofferson. His own backstory is tragic and his hatred for vampires understandable. He is also grey-haired and grumpy so I identify with him 😉
For me, it is the baddie, Deacon Frost, who disappoints. He simply does not seem especially threatening!
‘Blade II’ (2002)
The trailer is on Youtube at:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vAUB7dcUn8o
This sequel follows blade as he teams up in a reluctant truce with a group of highly-trained vampires (originally trained to hunt Blade himself) to track down vampires infected by the ‘Reaper’ virus that turns them into animalistic creatures driven only to feed as often as possible on both humans and vampires, infecting them in turn. Apologies for the coincidental topicality of this story!
The primary reason this movie is preferred over the first one is the presence of Guillermo Del Toro as director. He brings his signature visual flair to the project and it is a treat to look at as a result. This movie led to his own ‘Hellboy’ and ‘Hellboy II’. These days of course, with ‘The Shape of Water’ he has reached Academy-award levels of success, whist still doing his “dark fantasy” thing.
The casting in this movie is intriguing too. The ever-great Ron Perlman is the hulking member of the vampire team with a nasty surprise up his sleeve. Chief baddy Nomak is played by former boy-band singer Luke Goss of Bros fame. He is superb and genuinely threatening in a way that the antagonist of the first movie was not. (Perlman, of course, was later cast in Del Toro’s ‘Hellboy’ in the title role, with Goss following as the chief villain in ‘Hellboy II’).
For those of us who are fans of the BBC comedy show ‘Red Dwarf’, the appearance of Danny John Jules in Blade II seems really weird. Especially given he plays a vampire in the movie and wore fake canine teeth playing a humanoid cat in Red Dwarf!
The practical make-up effects for the ‘reapers’ are very well done, making some close-up sequences actually quite uneasy to watch. Some of the CGI elsewhere, whilst good for the time, is not perfect. Choreography of the fight scenes is excellent.
The last scene was so effective that it was nicked by ’30 Days of Night’ a few years later 😉
Both movies are, it has to be said, very violent. But for me they are the perfect thing to watch late at night with a drink (wine, not blood). I am very much not a fan of the dangerous-but-romantic vampires that have come along in movies in recent decades (basically Mr Darcy without a pulse) and the Blade movies act as a sort of counter to that.
They were, admittedly, borderline for inclusion here. But I like them so they are going in 😉
The third movie in the trilogy (Blade-Trinity) is poor and makes the same early mistake that Alien 3 made, thus souring the rest of the movie for me! I would not bother unless you are a completist. It does mark the Marvel debut of Ryan Reynolds (who eventually became Deadpool), but as I am not a fan this does not endear me to Blade-Trinity!