Monday, May 28, 2012

Blade and Nostalgia

Just as a note: While Blade is somewhat based on a comic book character, from what I understand the Blade from the comic is very different from the Blade in the movie (I have read a grand total of one Blade comic, I have no clue what year it's from) and so I am treating them as largely different continuities. If there's any similarities you'd like to point out, let me know in the comments! I'm always interested to hear this kind of stuff.

Let's be clear: I love Blade. I mean, I fuckin' loved that movie from the blood rave scene at the beginning.

I also love the music in this scene.
I first saw it when it hit VHS/DVD back when movies still came out on both regularly, although I don't recall which we used at the time, probably VHS. We rented it around the time we moved to Norman during a particularly rough time in my life, and it was one of the few things my brother and I agreed about at the time. We both loved the movie, and I can't recall how many times we watched it when we first rented it.

One of my favorite things about it is that the movie explores vampire culture. It was the first time I had ever seen anything like it, although I'm sure it's probably been addressed in other media before Blade. When I had seen vampires in movies before Blade (and after, often) they were generally depicted as alone, or parts of small groups. There's no real sense of a vampire society in most vampire films- they live on the edges of human society, apart but leeching from.

Some of them were also a bit foppish.
This movie reveals hints of the culture behind a race of beings who live for centuries. We see their body of government (at least for this region of vampires) and we see that they have advanced technology. We see that they are part of the system, above and beyond it, and they exist among us while having their own distinct segment of society. Udo Kier is, apparently, in charge.

Gotta admire this guy's dedication to being a vampire as often as humanly possible.
The world creates a universe where someone like Blade makes sense and, furthermore, seems necessary. Blade has a lot of atmosphere. It feels right, which is a claim the sequels can't make.

Blade's part of the world is dirty, industrial, low-rent. His lifestyle is nomadic and his digs are slapped together. The vampires have large and well-appointed rooms. Expensive suits and advanced technology. Pure bloods talking about offshore accounts. When Whistler is explaining things to Karen, you can see how grim their world is. The vampires own the police. The human politicians are in league with the vampires. There's no higher recourse.

Occasionally cops barge into your house and try to shoot you. Even more occasionally, Blade stops it.
It's my favorite Wesley Snipes movie (with Demolition Man running a close second). I like watching him kick people and I love him as Blade. He has great chemistry with Kris Kristofferson, who plays Blade's friend Whistler. Whistler is a bad ass, he knows how to make an entrance and is pretty spry for an old fella. Whistler has one of the best lines in the movie, btw.
Catch you fuckers at a bad time?
I think part of it is that Wesley Snipes does a lot of his own fighting (he also did some of the fighting choreography, mostly Blade's). Wesley is very aware of how he looks when he's moving/fighting, and that shows.

Steven Dorff plays one of my favorite Big Bads. His motives are clear and understandable. Deacon Frost resents the vampiric 'old guard', the pure blood vampires who were born that way (Lady Gaga reference in a Blade post, I get points) and who run things. Frost thinks that vampires should just be able to eat when they want, where they want, and not worry about secrecy or any of that. His motivations aren't necessarily complicated, but they are more than just I'M EEEVIL and Deacon Frost was possibly the first bad guy character I saw who I could say that about.

Also, he's kinda hot.
While Blade is out for revenge, the fight with the big bad is about more than just that. The stakes are high, and the boss fight is a difficult one. Which is good, because I get the feeling that the only reason Deacon Frost hadn't been killed already was that he was really good at getting out of Blade's way and had been educated in the Proper Use of Minions (and hostages). Without Deacon turning into the Blood God, Blade would probably have wiped the floor with him.
I also love this movie for Karen. Karen is practical and smart. She's a scientist, she's tough, and she's willing to do what needs done even if that's scary, gross, or life-threatening.

She volunteers to give Blade her blood even though she's scared and knows it could end badly. (The actress, N'Bushe Wright, does a fantastic job with that scene, by the way.) Then, woozy from missing quite a bit of blood, she racks up a couple of vampire kills while Blade is busy fighting a Blood God. She finds a cure for one type of vampirism and saves herself from turning into one with Science. If it hadn't been for her work with Blade and Whistler, Blade would not have defeated the Blood God.

There are places where the movie feels a bit too cinematic- where someone says something and it's clear that they're saying it just to be a bad ass or for the movie audience, as opposed to the people in the film. There are rough spots. But I still love this movie.

Next, I'm going to take on Blade 2. It only goes downhill from here, folks.