Blade II, by Albert W. Vogt III

Since they decided to make a trilogy out of the rather obscure Marvel vampire character known as Blade (Wesley Snipes), why not review all of them?  I mean, what else does one have to do on a week night?  Sometimes, I think, well, I have a privileged position that allows me to scrape the cinematic depths.  Occasionally, it reveals a hidden gem.  Most of the time, they should probably stay in the dark recesses of whatever streaming service is currently hosting them.  Blade II (2002), like the others in the franchise, fit firmly into the latter of those two categories.  So, why review them?  Memory. It is all about memory.  If you are like me, hopefully you have done a lot of growing up in the last twenty years.  Still, there is the possibility that you find yourself with a free evening, maybe the kids are all away on sleep overs or you are cooped up in a hotel room on a business trip, and you start skimming Netflix searching for something to watch.  Perhaps you spot Blade II and think, man, I remember that movie!  The next thought in this impending train wreck of an evening is some vague recollection of having enjoyed the action.  In reality, there was, and is, nothing enjoyable about this movie.

When last we left off with our title character, he had avenged what we thought was the death of his father figure and mentor, Abraham Whistler (Kris Kristofferson), in Blade (1998).  Instead, Blade II tells us that he is looking for Whistler, who had been turned into a vampire.  With his usual ease (it is actually so easy as to be boring), he mows down bloodsuckers as he eventually finds Whistler, who is being held in a catatonic state.  This is not the only action going on in the benighted world of these mythical creatures.  Elsewhere, there appears to be a new breed of fanged individuals with a deadly sun allergy.  This is revealed in the form of Jared Nomak (Luke Goss).  In Prague, he has come to a vampire run blood bank.  He is being taken into a collection room, but he ends up murdering humans and vampires alike, taking their blood with jaws that split open and a kind of sucker tongue appendage that comes out from the middle of this horror.  It is gross.  It is also apparently worrisome for vampires, and their ancient head-honcho muckety muck Eli Damaskinos (Thomas Kretschmann) decides to do something about it.  While Blade and his new partner Scud (Norman Reedus) reacquaint Whistler to humanity, two ninja-esque vampires infiltrate their compound.  After a brief and pointless struggle, they reveal they are there under a banner of truce.  The main one, Nyssa Damaskinos (Leonor Varela), Eli’s daughter, brings Blade and company to Eli’s lair and explains the situation.  These new vampires, referred to as “Reapers,” have an accelerated thirst for blood, and their need to feed is a threat to bloodsuckers and humans alike.  In order to deal with this threat, which seems to be conveniently centered on Prague, Eli offers a crack team of vampire assassins known as the Bloodpack (of course), who had been training to kill Blade.  Now working together, they travel to a nearby nightclub where they believe the Reapers will be hunting.  It turns out to be a fiasco, as the Reapers appear to not only be stronger than regular vampires (which does not seem to be saying much, but there you are), but also immune to many of Blade’s vampire killing tricks like silver.  The Reapers only weakness, which still does not affect Blade because he is a special vampire, is sunlight and/or ultraviolet light.  Counting their losses, if not their wounds (one of the Bloodpack had been bitten by a Reaper and inexplicably chooses to say nothing), they decide to try again the next day while loading up on weapons that will expose the Reapers to ultraviolet illumination.  They also use pheromones to attract them because that is a thing they want to do.  And it is down into the sewers where the Reapers nest, which also turns out to be a planned double cross on the part of the vampires as soon as their trap is triggered and all the Reapers are burned up.  The one that gets away, though, is Jared, and he has a message for Whistler.  Who does not get away is Blade, who is captured by the vampires and brough back to their base.  As all good mustache twirling villains do, if he could grow a mustache, Eli reveals to the captive blade that the Reapers were the result of genetic experimentation done in order to make a race of vampires without any weaknesses, like Blade, and that Jared is his son.  This is all confirmed by Whistler, along with the revelation that Scud had been working with them the entire time.  With their nemesis now in their possession, they plan to harvest Blade’s blood in order to study it.  What saves the day is the incursion of Jared, who draws attention away from Blade, and allows Whistler to free him.  As happens with all these movies, there is a big final battle where Blade triumphs over Jared, who had just finished killing Eli and biting Nyssa.  Since a bond had been forming between Blade and Nyssa, which you can totally tell from the furtive glances they give each other throughout, they share a final scene as they watch the sunrise and she dies in his arms.

My documented annoyance with vampires has been well covered in reviews of other movies that feature them, and Blade II continues this trend.  This trilogy makes it worse by throwing in half-baked racial theories, blah, blah, blah.  I will not leave this review at my disgusted mutterings.  There is one scene in particular that is disturbing from a Catholic point of view.  While Eli is pontificating about his plan to create a superior vampire, he is standing near a bank of little, developing, presumably vampire embryos.  He even picks one off the rack to examine the plastic pouch more closely. There are few easier ways to speak to the heart of a true blue Catholic than by showing a tiny human at that stage of growth.  It is a powerful symbol, and one that the pro-life movement rightly uses to win hearts and minds.  Now, I get that these are supposed to be mini-vampires, and that is problematic.  What I cannot for the life of me understand is why this is necessary to see?  Yes, it is always better in film to show rather than tell.  I would think, nonetheless, that there are other ways of showing this to audiences.  The worst is to come, though.  In their escape, Whistler shoots and apparently kills all the embryos in their gestation pouches.  Again, this is all fictional, but it was still difficult for this pro-lifer to witness.  Life deserves a chance!

From a Catholic perspective, the destruction of the embryos is the worst part of Blade II.  The rest is boring action schlock to the max.  While watching it, whenever Blade and the Bloodpack is going into a situation where they are going to encounter Reapers, I kept derisively saying out loud, “Yep, this is going to go well.”  I suppose there would not be a movie if everything went according to plan.  What a nice world that would be?  Either way, do not see this movie.

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