(In theaters, March 2002) Once in a while, the mid-twenties male movie geek that I am finds a reason to fall in love with cinema all over again. Strangely enough, truly great films don’t do this as often as flawed B-movies that I happen to really enjoy. Sure, okay, Traffic is a good film, but it doesn’t inspire me to the same level of devotion as the wonderfully quirky Dude, Where’s My Car?. Blade II is one of those films about which I can rave for hours, simply on the basis that it’s one of those all-too rare horror/action film that really push the gore/action quotient to insane levels. It’s furiously paced, it stars a highly charismatic hero (Wesley Snipes, better than ever), it doesn’t skimp on the special effects and gives you a geek-worthy movie experience. Blade II improves on most of the strengths of the original; more action, more vampires and more coolness. (One notable exception is the scant development of the vampire-world mythology, which revert from the original’s “council of vampires” to a more hum-drum “vampire monarchy”) The action sequences are directed with impressive skill and fluidity, though some blurry shots betray an imperfect integration of CGI and live-action elements. For director Guillermo del Toro, this is a triumphant return to mid-budget American films after the tepid Mimic. Perhaps the best things about Blade II is how much it pushes the limits of its MPAA-approved rating, ending up as one of the hardest-R movies in recent memory. Hence my unconditional love for the film, vampire-slayings and tense action sequences aside; if middle-aged ladies can have their sensitive Bridges Of Madison County and pre-schoolers can have their safe Thomas The Magic Train, then why can’t I get my Blade II? Thank you, Snipes and del Toro; once again, cinema has something to offer me.
(Second viewing, On DVD, January 2003) Adrenaline junkies should take note that there aren’t many better choices than this one as far as sheer action coolness is concerned. This film doesn’t try to do any anything but bring a kickin’ action comic book to life, and boy does it succeeds like few others. Blade II is packed with cool scenes, loud music and plenty of macho posturing. It’s almost perfect for what it wants to be. The DVD is enough to make any geek fall in love with the film again, as the 2-disc edition is dominated by the imposing presence of director Guillermo del Toro. His candid co-commentary (along with producer Peter Frankfurt) is reason enough to buy the DVD; profane, honest (he regularly points out flaws in the finished film, and is even less merciful with the original script he had to shape up for the screen), quick with an amazing array of classic comic/anime/film references and devastatingly funny, del Toro proves to be the best man for the job and a talent to watch. In comparison, the second commentary (featuring writer David S. Goyer and Wesley Snipes) is a bit too smug and scattered. If you like action movies, this is it; the slam-bang jewel of 2002.