Blade II (2002): An Amazing Film of Family and Vampire Politics

Amazon.com: Blade II (24x34 inch, 60x86 cm) Silk Poster PJ1A-187D: Posters  & Prints

“Blade II” is an amazing action film and is a film I consider a favorite after today. In this action film we get vampire politics, complex family drama, great character arcs and beyond the great action a rocking soundtrack and beautiful cinematography. The only con I can really say against it some of the CGI didn’t always work, so this is one I highly recommend.

The film was directed by Guillermo del Toro and written by David Goyer.

The story involves Blade (Wesley Snipes) rescuing Whistler (Kris Kristofferson) from the vampires who have turned him as a new threat arrives in the form of Reapers, vampires who can infect other vampires.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros:

The Soundtrack – The soundtrack is fantastic. For starters the songs they chose outside of music that involve Mos Def fit the scenes perfectly and the rest of the score enhances the experience. Marco Beltrami did a fantastic job.

The Cinematography – Visually this is a beautiful film as the colors bring the world to light. You have Blade’s black against silvers and use of yellow, blue, orange and red in different scenes to visually pull you in. Gabriel Beristain did a good job with this.

The Opening – There are two scenes that get the film off on the right start. The first is meeting Jared Nomak who is going to a blood bank for help, but he is targeted by Vampires it is here we see that he is the original Reaper as he easily kills the vampires when they turn on him. The second involves Blade hunting for Whistler and we get a variety of action until he finally discovers and saves Whistler. It does a great job showing why Blade is feared which provides a nice contrast to Nomak.

The Bloodpack – The Bloodpack is awesome. This was a group created 2 years prior to hunt and kill Blade. Nyssa, the daughter of Lord Damaskimos is unofficially in charge and her partner leader is Asad. They are both able to match Blade in combat ability. The others the muscle types being Chupa, Lighthammer (a silent type with a giant hammer), Reinhardt (Ron Perlman) and the more assassin types being Snowman (Donnie Yen) Priest and Verlaine. Each of them has a moment of awesome fighting the Reapers so you can see just how dangerous they are.

The Reaper Threat – The Reaper threat is huge as anyone Nomak infects becomes strong and feral. His pack is only based in spreading the virus and feeding and they are dangerous too as they turn or kill all the members of the Bloodpack except Reinhardt and Nyssa. This is a testament to their strength as the Bloodpack are shown to be highly lethal.

Abraham Whistler – Whistler is far more compelling than he is in the first film as here his father relationship with Blade is developed and his chemistry with Blade’s new weapons expert Scud (Norman Reedus) is a lot of fun. In this film he is no longer distant and can relate a lot more to Blade as he was nearly turned himself. If you want to bring back a character you killed off in the prior film, how they brought back Whistler is the way to do it.

Eric Brooks / Blade – Blade is also the most human he’s ever been this time around. We see it in the empathy he has towards Nyssa and the conflict they face within themselves being vampires. He’s still just as driven as in the first film but he has to depend on others (Whistler, Nyssa, etc.) and that makes him a great protagonist this time. He isn’t unstoppable.

The Damaskinos Family Drama – The Damaskinos family drama is the core of the story and I can see where del Toro probably took inspiration from this in “Hellboy 2” as that also has a family drama at the core. Eli the Lord and Patriarch wants to make the “perfect” vampires who have no vulnerabilities. He is willing to risk his daughter Nyssa and all vampires to get there. Out of that was born Nomak and the hunger that comes with his artificial state. This leads to Nomak’s revenge after Nyssa turns against her father as she sees Nomak’s revenge quest as just.

The Tragedy of Jared Nomak – Jared Nomak was created by Lord Damaskinos who then sends Blade an the Bloodpack after him. This doesn’t stop Eli from gaslighting him though as we come to understand why Nomak is so driven. He has a hunger he can’t control and is alone. Vampires only want to use him and even Blade refuses to listen to him. In this way his end was given but I appreciate the tragic villain he is. Luke Goss does a great job and I can see why del Toro brought him back to play the Elven Prince in “Hellboy 2.”

Nyssa’s Redemption – Leonor Varela is great at giving us the complex vampire. She has some level of not liking what she is and the hunger but she also cares for her people. We see open racism from the Bloodpack against people who weren’t born vampires but never from her. Her and her best friend Asad are the “good” in the Bloodpack. This continues as Blade saves her twice and that changes her perspective. In the end she turns against her father and chooses death for her family’s wrongs. It is sad but her ending is powerful as she dies seeing the sunrise. This is a great example of how to do a “Redemption = death” arc right.

The Cons:

Some Special Effects – What makes most of the special effects work in this film is the fact that they are practical. A Reaper gets dissected at one point and you see how they have transformed and only have the hunger. The problem is when action scenes slow down or action is focused on. When the action is quick the CGI is fine but any scene that lingers for too long with CGI present stands out as bad. This is the only real con to the film though.

I did not expect to have a sequel to “Blade” be a favorite film of mine, but here we are. Goyer’s script is juggling a lot of characters and plot threads and betrayals but still pulls them all together. This is all while giving us a sympathetic villain and the threats to Blade feel like actual threats. This is everything a horror action film should be. I’m not looking forward to “Blade 3” but I’m glad that del Toro got to create this amazing film.

Final Score: 9.6 / 10

Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008) – A Fun Adventure That Gives Justice to the Characters and Plot

Hellboy 2 Poster

        The blog is finally back! I’ve been on a bit of haitus since I’ve been moving to a new apartment, my sister got married this week and I had car trouble in Seattle and had to replace a flat, which took a few days. There are reviews upcoming, the first of which is this one that I’ve been working on. Enjoy.

       “Hellboy 2” is a lot of fun. This is a film that takes everything that worked about the first film and focuses it (with some of the same problems still around as well) and creating a few new problems. It is the better film though, as the characters in this are more memorable and Hellboy isn’t the only character driving the plot this time. Non-spoiler thoughts, check this film out if you like the Hellboy comics and enjoyed the first film.

    The film was directed and written by Guillermo del Toro and produced Lawrence Gordon, Mike Richardson and Lloyd Levin.

    The story involves Hellboy (Ron Perlman) and the team working top the evil elf Prince Nuada from summoning the immortal Golden Army from ancient that nearly wiped out humanity before.

The Pros: The World – Guillermo loves the dark world of fairy mythology (see “Pan’s Labrynth”) and here he gets to show and express that love in the mythos on display. His world is fascinating and all characters look so real and alien. This is really him in his element as this film had some of my favorite character designs.

The Soundtrack – Danny Elfman once again creates a powerful score! This is a guy who specializes in dark fairy tales and that is what this Hellboy film is. he does a masterful job capturing the tragedy and loss in scenes and the soundtrack is worth checking out just for what it is.

The Cinematography – The cinematography is stunning. While the last film was too dark at times this one embraces the dark but also the light to create beautiful contrasts in locations and characters, giving the film and otherworldly feel. Guillermo Navarro did a fantastic job.

The Introduction – A little Hellboy is being red a story by his adoptive father Trevor (yay, John Hurt is back!). It is a touching scene as we learn that fairys and humans lived in harmony until humans started destroying the land leading King Balor to create a Golden Army of magic. He regrets it all after the death toll rises and makes a peace treaty with humanity. His son leaves in exile as he wanted humanity wiped out and he and his daughter hide the pieces so the army may never rise again.

The Characters – The characters are what drew me into the world of Hellboy (though Hellboy isn’t as interesting as Abe of Krauss in my opinion) and they are the reason I will continue to see these films.

King Balor – The King is awesome and shuts down his son when his son tries to call for war again. It takes his son killing him for him to be stopped. I wanted more of this guy as he was a fascinating and powerful character.

The Goblin Smith – This guy makes a deal to save the life of Hellboy and we learn he was the smith who made the Golden Army and fears his creations. He brings Liz to the Angel and she makes the deal to bring Hellboy back even knowing it could lead to the end.

The Angel – The Angel sees Hellboy’s future and in it only destruction. She is a dark and haunting figure with eyes of a large cranium and great black wings. She has my favorite design in the film and if they make more I hope we see her again. She saves Hellboy’s life.

 Hellboy – Hellboy’s arc is learning to communicate with Liz and work on a team. He is by the end and has rubbed off on Krauss who rebels against the agency. His arc is cool as we see even though he is stupid, his heart is in the right place and he is a talented fighter.

Liz – Liz makes the choice Hellboy made last movie where he risks all to save her, she does the same this film. She is the one who has gotten control of her powers (I would have liked to see more of how that happened) and is the one helping Hellboy become responsible.

Abe Sapien – Abe has a character arc as we see him love and lose as he brings the crown to Nuada that awakens the army (and rightfully calls out Liz and Hellboy for doing the same thing). Sadly not all love works out as Nuala dies to save them all. It is a touching scene and we see how perceptive Abe is. I really liked his character after this film.

Prince Nuada – The Prince is in it for revenge and has a great design as a dark warrior. He trained for centuries and his plan nearly works because he is the only one who doesn’t love and only wants to control. Luckily he is stopped in the end by his sister, who it turns out was the only one who could unless the heroes were willing to kill her by killing Nuada.

Princess Nuala – Nuala should have got more screentime. We see she is compassion and a healer, while her brother is the warrior and she is shown to be wise as she knows that the war will only end in the destruction of all as the Golden Army is only built to destroy. She also falls in love with Abe and is lovely until she kills herself to stop her brother keeping up the theme of tragedy that pervaded the film.

Johann Krauss

 Johann Krauss – Krauss is awesome! He is pretty much immortal because he is living ectoplasm in a suit. This leads to him being both smarter and stronger than Hellboy and a better leader on all counts as he doesn’t depend on brute forcing his way through situations. He does see the value in it though and resigns from the agency with the rest of them as they are tired of being tools, given that Hellboy’s existence is shown to be just a tool for his father to cause the end of the world. All of them, including Krauss, reject that control.

Okay: The Ending – It is cool that Liz and Hellboy are going to be parents, the freeze frame for the final shot was a bit annoying though.

The Cons: Disposable Agents – So many agents die, they are basically red shirts and I feel the stakes would have been hire if they’d felt more like characters rather than disposable bodies.

The Prince’s Long Term Plan – What was his plan after humanity was wiped out? He never talks about it and it seems that the Fairy Realm is largely afraid of him. He lived only for revenge when he could have been so much more since he wanted to rule and killed his father to do so.

  I enjoyed this film much more than the first one largely because the side characters got a lot more exploration while still keeping the Hellboy mythos key with him being son of a Demon Lord. The price and cost of choices was explored really well too and using the Fairy World to do so was masterful since in mythology they are all about dealmaking. Krauss was my favorite character and his character growth was a big part of what made the film so fascinating outside of the great world and character designs that we’ve all come to expect from Guillermo del Toro.

Final Score: 8.6 / 10