Classic Film Review: Blade (1998)

Marvel vs. DC:

Blade, 1998

Directed by: Stephen Norrington

Starring: Wesley Snipes, Stephen Dorff, Kris Kristofferson, N’Bushe Wright, Donal Logue


Still following in DC’s footsteps, Marvel have brought their own black superhero film (and no, I’m not taking about Black Panther, despite the praise that film is receiving for its use of a black superhero) to the big screen with Blade, a vampire-filled film where Deacon Frost (Stephen Dorff), a non-born vampire, wants to release a vampire blood god against the advices of all the elder vampires, but is stopped at every avenue by Blade/Eric Brooks (Wesley Snipes), a human-vampire who was born after his mother was bitten during childbirth. Blade and his team, Abraham Whistler (Kris Kristofferson), a weaponsmith who found Eric as a child, and Dr. Karen Jenson (N’Bushe Wright), who was bitten during an attack but is still in human form, track down vampires throughout, ultimately with the mission of finding both the vampire who bit his mother and Frost.

Marvel’s first four films (Howard the Duck, The Punisher, Captain America and The Fantastic Four) were all failures, with the latter three receiving only minimal cinematic releases (if any) and Howard the Duck was a critical and commercial failure. Blade marks the turning point in their fortunes, as, while it’s not an amazing film and receives the same grade as the The Punisher, it’s a solid film with a solid storyline and nice action. The main problem with Blade, though, is that everything is over the top (except for the writing, which I’ll get to soon). The choreography in the fight scenes is bizarre at times, with spinning kicks and flips back-and-forth while fighting does look a bit silly; one scene in particular sees Blade spin in a circle, then the villain spun in a circle, then Blade did, then the villain did, then Blade didn’t but the villain still did so Blade went low with a kick. It’s so bizarre watching it and while some of the fight scenes choreography are really well done, there’s just too many that are over the top.

There are also a few scenes which are stretched out, such as the opening night club scene which seems to pan the camera through every inch of the night club, scanning through every table through streams of random people that won’t factor in the film again before Blade turns up and attacks a lot of vampires. There are just too many scenes that are stretched out. And the last negative is reserved especially for the writing: there is so much exposition. Between introducing Karen into their world she needs everything explaining and having Frost discover the possibility of a blood god and have to explain that and having the past explained and newly-introduced characters explained, there are a lot of exposition scenes.

Although, while there are a lot of things to pick out as not being great in terms of a film, it is still quite an entertaining action-adventure, with a nicely created back-story to Blade and having enough secrets and surprise reveals throughout to keep us intrigued (even if a few of them are predictable). And while the action scenes are bonkers at best, it’s still entertaining at times. And, unlike with Black Panther, the colour of his skin plays absolutely no factor what-so-ever in the film. While I can criticise a lot more than I can praise, it still shouldn’t take away from the fact that this film is very entertaining with a solid plotline running through it and a nicely created hero and villain dynamic. It’s just unfortunately filled with over-the-top scenes (both in camera work and in choreography) and terrible exposition scenes.


Plot: * *     Acting: * *     Writing: * *     Presentation: * *

Overall Rating: * *

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