Everybody's second favorite vampire slayer is back for another round, and this time the vampires are on his side. Sort of.
If you missed Blade, you can definitely still see Blade II and get it. You may miss a surprise character resurrection here and there, but other than that the story is so obvious it could almost be cliché--and if it weren't for the gorgeous backdrop of its very eerie Prague setting, it probably would be. Blade (Wesley Snipes) is a part-human, part-vampire vampire slayer, and he's very dedicated to protecting human kind from his toothsome nemeses. But in Blade II, there's a new evil in town--the Reapers--and Blade will have to join forces with a vampire ''Blood Pack'' to defeat the new bad guys and keep the underworld safe for vampires and humans alike. Thing is, the creepy pack members are less than thrilled to be working with Blade; their pack was formed to kill him, after all, which creates not a little conflict among the group. Still, that doesn't stop one of them, Nyssa, from eventually becomes Blade's not-so-creepy love interest.
It's probably not really correct to judge acting in a film like Blade; its comic-book sensibilities require caricatures rather than characters, and all the main players deliver. Snipes is a tough guy extraordinaire--a real, live action hero--and he's packing all the heat and hardware necessary to slay evil wherever it may lurk. Generally, evil hangs out in an exquisitely concocted underworld replete with pasty-faced vampire wannabes (they're called familiars, but they're vampire food, basically) and the shadow-loving bloodsuckers themselves. Even the ''Blood Pack'' looks more like the club-hopping types you can find on South Beach any day of the week: they're a little spooky but basically inoffensive. Ron Perlman is adequately threatening as the Judas vampire Rienhardt, but even the worst fanged fiend isn't as terrifying as the main Reaper (Rey-Phillip Santos), whose powerful bloodsucking is about as close to the original Blade's ickiness as you'll get in this incarnation. (Never fear: this one's icky enough in its own way.) Leonor Varela's Nyssa deserves a mention for showing us the softer side of Blade, and she certainly looks the part of a gentle vampire who's made her peace with what she is.
We've mentioned it before, but here it is again: the settings in this film are truly some of the best choices we've ever seen in a horror film. Every place works. Despite the amazing backdrops, however, there is something subtly lacking and yet something obviously too much in Guillermo del Toro's Blade II. It's missing passion; this Blade is too collected and there's little simmering beneath that cool leather-clad surface. At the same time, the film also relies too heavily on Matrix-style effects that make the fight scenes a little too swift and clean for such abject subject matter. Pair all this with a nostalgic nod to the first Blade--the cheesy dissolving vampires could have used a special effects face lift--and you get some pretty disconcerting results that seem better suited to a music video than a movie. Nonetheless, the non-stop action is guaranteed to keep you glued to the screen, except when you're cringing behind your hands.
Blade II is a totally gross-out film that has about as much depth as its comic-book inspiration, which is probably why it's so entertaining.