Blade, by Albert W. Vogt III

Among the uncountable things that Marvel Studios is up to these days, backed by the seemingly limitless money of Disney, is to bring their vampire hunting superhero Blade into the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).  Or at least that is the rumor.  You can see the day-walking bloodsucker’s hero amongst the titles in whatever future phase is next for the MCU.  Yet, like what we have heard about the future plans for the Star Wars franchise, films and/or series can be cut before they are made whenever whatever ridiculous vagaries of Hollywood behind the scenes prevents them.  There is an International Movie Database (IMDb) page for the reboot of the character, complete with a speculated director and Mahershala Ali taking on the title role.  Does that count for anything?  Who knows?  In the meantime, we can (if this is something you want, for some reason) tide ourselves over with the original attempt to make a movie based on this relatively little-known Marvel personage with Wesley Snipes as Blade (1998).

Many first-time superhero movies are origin stories, though Blade’s is brief.  Apparently, his mother, Vanessa Brooks (Sanaa Lathan), is bitten by a vampire while going into labor with her son Eric (Wesley Snipes).  This is assumption at this point, particularly since the next scene features a young couple headed to a secret nightclub in an urban area . . . somewhere.  She is quite determined, while he simply believes that he is headed for a good time.  Things go from strange as she leads him through a meat packing plant, to worse when the dance floor is covered in blood from the overhead sprinklers, and all the other revelers turn out to be vampires.  Luckily for him, this is when Eric, now known simply as Blade, appears.  He then commences to killing every fanged individual in the place, which seems quite easy, actually.  A few silver bullets here, a stake to the heart there, and they go up in a short-lived fire to end to end up as an ashen heap.  Blade’s target is a vampire named Deacon Frost (Stephen Dorff), but though there is a glimpse of the antagonist, he is not on hand when the killing commences.  His right-hand bloodsucker is, Quinn (Donal Logue), whose overconfidence becomes tiresome fast.  Blade’s torturing, which includes a torching, of Quinn to discover Deacon’s whereabouts is interrupted by the police.  Quinn’s scorched body is taken to a nearby hospital morgue, where hematologist Dr. Karen Jenson (N’Bushe Wright) analyzes the victim’s blood and finds irregularities.  Her colleague, Dr. Curtis Webb (Tim Guinee), who is performing the autopsy, convinces her to witness his dissections because of other strange aspects of the body.  This is when Quinn revives, bites Dr. Webb, and then sets upon Dr. Jenson.  Once again, it is Blade to the rescue!  When he sees the marks on her neck, his initial thought is to kill her before she can become like Quinn, sans the burns.  Instead, having flashbacks of his mother (which is remarkable considering the last time he had been in her presence is when he was born), he decides to take her back to his secret base.  This is a rough abode in an industrial sector of town that he shares with his mentor and weapons supplier, Abraham Whistler (Kris Kristofferson).  He gives Dr. Jenson an injection to slow the progression of the transformation into a vampire, and explains a little about our black clothed hero.  The two of them are waging a war against vampires, and Blade is uniquely suited for this mission because while a vampire, he does not suffer from their aversion to sunlight, for example.  In order to keep his bloodlust in check, he takes a serum, though we are told is beginning to prove less effective.  With that, they turn Dr. Jenson loose with the advice to flee, and to carry a gun in case she finds that she is turning into a vampire otherwise she will one day have to face Blade.  Meanwhile, we see that Deacon is considered to be a bit of an upstart among the vampire ruling class.  He is someone who had been turned into a vampire, while their ruling council (whatever) is composed entirely of bloodsuckers that were born this way.  Deacon’s goal is to translate the supposedly unreadable vampire bible, which he believes contains a prophecy about a vampire god called La Magra that will enslave all the humans.  The council leader, Gitano Dragonetti (Udo Kier), is against this plan, seeking instead to remain in the shadows and maintain the delicate balance they have with humans.  In response, once his translation is complete, Deacon murders Gitano and kidnaps the rest.  He also lures Blade into a trap by capturing Dr. Jenson, who had been working with Whistler on a cure for vampirism that she used on herself.  Blade is needed alive by Deacon because, of course, his blood is key to the ceremony to unleash La Magra.  With everything in place, Deacon takes the requisite people to a special chamber and performs the ritual to become La Magra.  Blade is freed by Dr. Jenson, who allows him to feed on her in order to regain his strength.  Rejuvenated, he goes on to defeat the remaining Deacon minions and La Magra himself, so hooray, I suppose.  From there, Blade and Dr. Jenson go their separate ways.  That way brings Blade to Moscow, Russia, which is where the film mercifully ends.

One of the remarks I made while watching Blade is that vampires are gross.  It must be doubly so for those misguided individuals who believe that these mythical creatures are real.  What this film laughably tries to do in its more sober moments is attempt to apply science to these fictional beasts.  Regardless, I will hand it to Dr. Jenson for trying to discover a non-violent cure for the scourge that is monsters that must kill people in order to survive.  Then again, she is also the one who comes up with the darts that kill Deacon in the end.  This all makes the film a slightly tricky one to analyze from a Catholic perspective.  Supposing for a second that vampires do exist, they would have to fit in some way to God’s creation.  This is disappointing in terms of the movie because it says that Crosses and Holy Water have no adverse effects on vampires.  To this Catholic, this would suggest that the film is telling you that God is imaginary.  A world where there is no God, but vampires?  No, thank you.  Blade speaks to this issue in a left-handed way by saying that the Holy relics that books and movies claim to have power over these creatures is nonsense.  This adds to the illogic of the movie, philosophically speaking.  Blade is supposed to be the good guy, and all the vampires, save for himself, are the bad guys.  As such, is it too much to ask for some of the symbols of ultimate good to be useful in fighting what it says is evil?

I do not wish to belabor the discussion of Blade, although there are two more films after this one.  Sigh.  At any rate, it is rated R, a rarity for Marvel movies, and thus should not be seen by anyone.  I am only slightly kidding.  There is little redeeming value in it.  It is violent, and when it is not violent, it is silly.  It had been many years since I had seen it, and when I watch these things after so many years, I wonder what the heck was wrong with me at that time.  I guess it really is true: we all do dumb things when we are young.

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