Blade II is a great movie and one of the better comic book films to be released in the past decade. Having Guillermo del Toro helm this entry was one reason for its success especially in the visual realm. The action is well shot and the suspense is maintained throughout. It also features a good performance from Wesley Snipes as well as Ron Perlman who make for a cool baddie.
Genre(s): Horror, Action, Fantasy
Warner Bros. | R – 117 min. – $19.98 | July 10, 2012
Directed by: Guillermo Del Toro
Writer(s): Marv Wolfman & Gene Colan (comic book); David S. Goyer (written by)
Cast: Wesley Snipes, Kris Kristofferson, Ron Perlman, Leonor Varela, Thomas Kretschman, Luke Goss
Theatrical Release Date: March 22, 2002
Features: Feature Commentaries, Featurettes, Deleted Scenes, Music Video, Gallery, Trailer
Number of Discs: 1
Audio: English (DTS-HD MA 5.1), English (DTS-HD MA 7.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 1.78
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Disc Size: 42.7 GB
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Region(s): A, B, C
THE MOVIE – 4.25/5
Plot Synopsis: Taking place two years after the events of the first movie, Blade II opens with a prologue introducing us to the film’s main bad guy named Jared Nomak (LUKE GOSS), who is what is known as a Reaper vampire, a hybrid who feasts on the blood of other vampires.
Then we get to present day (2002 at least) when we meet our title hero, Blade (WESLEY SNIPES) who had discovered that his old friend and mentor, Whistler (KRIS KRISTOFFERSON) was still alive despite having shot himself at the end of Blade after he was bitten by a vampire. Well, apparently the vampires were keeping him alive and now Blade is making it his mission to find Whistler and put him out of his misery. When Blade finally finds the whereabouts, he couldn’t make the kill and instead rescues and brings him back to headquarters. Blade gives an accelerated retrovirus detox curing Whistler. It’s a quick sequence that smelled more of trying to dial back what happened at the end of the first film in order to bring back a likeable character.
Whistler is brought back to a newish world where Blade has a new gadgets and Mr. Fix It guy in Scud (NORMAN REEDUS). Despite what’s supposed to be state of the art security, the headquarters is breached and after a short gun and fist fight with a few people dressed in quality ninja outfits (including nifty goggles), it’s revealed they are a convoy of vampires seeking help from Blade to hunt down the Reaper vamps before it’s too late as the population of them are growing and soon could move onto the human race once the vampire colony is finished. This convoy includes various vampires who were once trained to hunt Blade but who now must take orders from the man himself. Parts of the convoy include: Badass Reinhardt (RON PERLMAN), Chupa (MATT SCHULZE) and a few others not meant for this or the vampire world if you catch my drift. Also included is the leader, and daughter of the vampire clan, Nyssa (LEONOR VARELA). Despite their differences, it’s in their best interests to worth together but things aren’t as they seem…
Quick Hit Review: I haven’t seen Blade II in quite a while (probably nearly 8 years) and back then I always had the film in my top 5 comic book movies of all time and a big step up from the original Blade and a Citizen Kane-like masterpiece compared with Blade: Trinity. Not only is the story fairly strong, albeit not entirely original, but the action is intense, the production design fantastic and the writing by David S. Goyer (the Nolan Batman movies) pretty strong. It’s also the last movie I felt that Wesley Snipes gave a rat’s ass and tried hard in both the stunt work and just his overall performance because he sure as hell didn’t give a rat’s ass in that third installment.
The movie’s strength primarily relies on the incredible direction from Director Guillermo del Toro whose mainstream resume included Mimic, for which he had a terrible experience and landed in “Hollywood jail” as put by Goyer, and The Devil’s Backbone which I never saw but heard and read good things about. What I enjoyed about this entry is it balances the action with a bit of dark humor intermix with slick direction and some amazing stunts that makes Blade II stand apart from others in the genre.
Overall, if you enjoyed the first movie, this second entry is, to me at least, just as strong and perhaps even better. Wesley Snipes for probably the last time seemed to give a damn about his performance rather than just going through the motions (although he wasn’t bad in Brooklyn’s Finest). Still, Blade II is a fun action flick that is well worth watching if not just for the visual elements.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 4.5/5
Commentary by Director Guillermo del Toro – This new track recorded for this Blu-ray release allows del Toro to provide perspective to the film 10 years later. If you’ve ever listened to a track by del Toro, you know you’re going to get a lot of good information. Even going solo, it’s absolutely worthwhile to check out. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **
Commentary by Director Guillermo del Toro and Producer Peter Frankfurt – This track is a bit looser compared with del Toro’s solo venture, but still informative as the two men bounce stories off one another.
Commentary by Writer David S. Goyer and Actor/Producer Wesley Snipes – The third and final track (whew) is another loose commentary this time giving the writer’s and actor’s perspective rather than on the filmmaking and production side.
Director’s Notebook (HD) – With this interactive feature, you can watch video pods (which usually run around 2-minutes) of del Toro talking about various topics and also look at sketches and drawings done for the project. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **
Blade II: Blood Brothers (10:22; HD) is a featurette/interview by David S. Goyer talking about working with Guillermo del Toro and how he got the gig after the perceived failure of Mimic. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **
The Blood Pact (TRT – 1:21:58; SD) is a collection of documentaries/featurettes: Genesis Redux – Beginnings (6:07), Man & Myth – The Blade Character (2:35), Leader of the Pact – On Directing (9:44), The Devil’s Architect – Production Design (12:23), Fear the Reapers – Creature Effects (9:40), Suck-Head Chic – Costuming (9:19), Kicking & Screaming – Stunts and Choreography (12:35), Vampire Nocturnes – Music Score (19:35). Combined, these are fascinating and comprehensive behind-the-scenes featurettes which explores just about every aspect of the production. Everything and anything you want to know about Blade II is probably found here; what isn’t will be on the commentaries.
Comic Book Origins (5:19; SD) explores how similar Blade II is to its comic book counterpart and what they can get away with compared with other comic book based movies.
The Vampire Mystique (5:19; SD) takes a look at, with Guillermo del Tor and others in the cast and crew, the allure of vampires in society and why there’s such a fascination with the subject.
Damaskinos Blood Bath (4:22; SD) is a featurette specifically looking at the blood pool created for one of the scenes during the climax (and one earlier for the head vampire). It’s nothing special and probably could’ve been integrated into the individual featurettes.
Alternate Sunrise Music (1:13) – Kind of self-explanatory feature exploring an alternate music cue for one of the scenes when Blade and the gang are in the sewers hunting Reapers.
Deleted and Alternate Scenes (24:29; SD) – A whopping 16 scenes that were either cut down or cut complete out are presented here. While none of them were necessary for the final cut, nor would’ve made it any better, it’s nice to have here. You can view these with or without a commentary by del Toro.
The disc has a few odds and ends including: Alternate Sunrise Music (1:13; SD); Percussion Instruments – Stills; Sequence Breakdown on six scenes looking at “Original Script”, “Shooting Script”, “Scene in Film” and “On the Set” (and various other comparisons); Visual Effects breakdown on three production elements such as prosthetics; Script Supervisor’s Notebook; Unfilmed Script Pages; an Art Gallery with concept artwork, props & weapons, costume design, set design and character design; Storyboards; a Music Video (3:40; SD) by Cyprus Hill and Roni Size for “Child of the Wild West”; and some Trailers.
VIDEO – 4.0/5
Blade II slashes its debut on Blu-ray with a good looking 1080p high-definition transfer. The film is presented with a 1.78 widescreen aspect ratio though theatrically it was a 1.85 AR (Warner typically opens the matting). While this transfer does show some artifacts especially during the dark, dark scenes as well as a few shots here and there, I was fairly impressed with the level of detail. The color array is also decent though given most of the film takes place at night or underground, any form of color does pop off the screen. Although I can’t say it’s a pristine transfer, it does look free of dust marks and scratches so it seems Warner put some work into making look good for HD.
AUDIO – 4.5/5
Even if the picture doesn’t wow you, the lossless audio certainly will. In an unusual move, albeit not unheard of, the disc comes with both a 5.1 and 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio tracks. The 7 channel mix obviously is the best showcasing so much from punches, kicks and blood-curdling screaming, but the 5 channel track is no slouch and for those with only a 5-speaker set-up will not be disappointed. The tracks especially come to life during the action scenes, for which there are plenty, but instead of merely sounding loud, it’s very dynamic where the soundtrack and score never overshadows what’s happening on-screen and vice versa. So those who own the DVD version (which has a Dolby Digital EX 6.1 track), you’ll be impressed with both the 5.1 and 7.1 tracks.
OVERALL – 4.25/5
Overall, Blade II is a great movie and one of the better comic book films to be released in the past decade. Having Guillermo del Toro helm this entry was one reason for its success especially in the visual realm. The action is well shot and the suspense is maintained throughout. It also features a good performance from Wesley Snipes as well as Ron Perlman who make for a cool baddie. When it comes to this Blu-ray release, thankfully Warner didn’t pull any punches with bombastic 5.1 and 7.1 lossless tracks and every feature from the 2-disc DVD release plus a couple new items to peruse highlighted by a new commentary from del Toro.
Brian Oliver, The Movieman
Check out some more screen caps by going to page 2. Please note, these do contain spoilers.