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March 25, 2002 - Image 10

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The Michigan Daily, 2002-03-25

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10A -The Michigan Daily - Monday, March 25, 2002

ARTS

a

THE VAMPIRE MONOLOGUES

'Blade II' clings
to comedy and
gre of ornal

'Blade' banter over bloodletting
Goss, Snpes hype up new action/horrorflik

I

By Luke Smith
Daily Arts Editor
There are far worse things than
Blade running through the night.
It is under this guise and premise
that "Blade II" builds itself into a
warped conflict of kind-of evil ver-
sus very evil versus extremely evil,
all wound in an air-tight web of fast-
cut, quick-camera, Hong Kong-style
action sequences and one-liners,
making a film that doesn't take itself
too seriously or for any more than
what it is.
"Blade II" is a blood-gushing fra-
cas in a similar vein (get it?) as the
first film. Action comic-horror buffs
will flock to see this sequel to the
1998 Stephen Norrington-directed
flick. Besides the obvious questions
involving the elements of the sequel,
the real question is whether it will
generate enough of a cross-market
appeal so that more than comic-
book aficionados will buy tickets.
The film begins with Blade's
(Wesley Snipes) search for Whistler
(Kris Kristofferson reprising his role
from the first). Blade soon finds that
Whistler has been living as a Vam-
pire in captivity for a couple of
years. This is remedied all-too easily
by Blade, who concocts a serum and
reverses the previously-vampiric

state of the men-
to r / father / gear
head Whistler.
It is here where
viewers meet the
new gear head in
Blade's life -
Scud (Norman
Reedus). The

Lucky for Wesley, these white men can't Jump.

greasy, oily Scud
has erected quite a security system
at the Daywalker's compound and
comes across brash, young and
arrogant A casting error somehow
cheated the aging Corey Feldman
out of the perfect role for his gasp-
ing career.
Unlike its predecessor, "Blade II"
moves through a variety of sub-
plots, all gearing toward a central
showdown with a new breed of vam-
pires, posed as a genetic mutation.
Nomack (Luke Goss) is the leader of
this new breed of flesh-eaters, called
Reapers. The Reapers and their rap-
idly expanding population feed on
the blood of Vampires, and the film
likens their bloodlust to that of crack
addicts. So, the Shadow Council
(yes, a council headed by a Vampire
Overlord) summons Blade and asks
for a truce between Blade and the
general vampire population, so that
Blade and the Bloodpack can hunt
Nomack. The Bloodpack is a group
of elite vampire
soldiers (a blood-
sucking special
ops) led by the
LADE II vampire overlord's
daughter Nyssa
iowcase and (Leonor Varela).
uality 16 Blade and the
Bloodpack must
temporarily put
aside their mutual
hate in order to combat
the Reapers.
Guillermo del Toro (most
notably "Mimic") directed
"Blade II," and the film vividly
recalls some of the dark visuals of
"'Mimic" while staying consistent
with the visuals of the first. If any-
thing, the visuals have been
improved with technology. Del Toro
frames each shot carefully, making it
appear as it could be frozen and
printed in a comic book. Del Toro's

use of shadow, light and color are
consistent with the comic book
motif, as the film looks like a
McFarlane drawn book.
While the plot is thick and convo-
luted, at times it doesn't seem to
exist. But, the film can get away "
with it because of its self-deprecat-
ing mockery of the action/horror
genre and its constant jokes directed
at itself. Wesley Snipes played more
of a straight-up badass in the first-
flick, reminding villains to bet on
black. In "Blade II," Snipes' jokes
get more frequent, and the jokes
play out even further in the film's
action sequences - one of which
features Snipes delivering a suplex.
Snipes also gets caught on the
receiving end of an elbow-drop off
the top pillar. It is the tongue-in-
cheek fighting scenes which serve
to suck some of the attention away
from the violence and gore, instead
placing the focus momentarily on
Blade and the Bloodpack's one-lin-
ers.
The holes in the plot aren't the
only thing porous in the film.
Leonor Varela's performance as
Nyssa is completely uninspiring and
at times downright awful. Voiceover
specialist Ron Perlman plays Blood-
packer Reinhardt (he did the vocals
for Clayface in the Batman animat-
ed series,) one of the Bloodpack,
sports the worst hair-cut of all-time
amd serves as an interesting adver-
sarial foil to Snipes' Blade.
Wit the appropriately sporadic
plot, "Blade II" makes no preten-
tious claims about being anything
other than a camp-filled
action/horror flick. It is both the
humility of "Blade II" and its con-
stant ribbing of itself that makes
"Blade II" a successful continua-
tion on the comic book stylings of
the original flick.

By Lyle Henretty
Daily Arts Editor
"My personality is very eclectic, very international,
very very open," Wesley Snipes intones in his quick,
deep drawl as he contemplates his role as a black role-
model in Hollywood. "I've studied not only different
martial arts styles from all over the world, but acting
styles from all over the world .... I think my work kind
of reflects that, and I think I gravitate towards that. I
want [black actors] to be respected on the world stage
for being quality craftsman."
The actor, along with his "Blade II" co-star Luke
Goss, spoke with The Daily while foregoing the usual
press junket for a more informal "club tour" stop in
Detroit. Snipes returns as the title half-human/half-
vampire in the surprise 1998 comic-book inspired CGI
blood-fest. "This movie is scarier," Snipes promises.
"This film is more loose, and we brought back some of
the same pop culture references: The look, the style,
some of the same actors and characters. Blade is a lit-
tle bit more relaxed in this one."
"In keeping with the comic book tradition, which is
episodic, we though, wow, we should do some things in
the movie that would lend themselves to a second,"
said Snipes, though he assures that the film is more
than just chance to cash in on the success of the first
film. "I think this film is fantastic and I hope that not
only it does better this time than the first one, but also
keeps the audience anticipating a third." At the men-
tion of anchoring a franchise, Snipes smiles. "I've seen
it work for Mel (Gibson) and Danny (Glover). It did
very good, so I don't mind learning from some
guys that are wiser than me."
Goss, a British stage vet and former member
of the pop duo Bros, adjusted his intense style p
to incorporate the thick latex make-up that
turned him into virulent bloodsucker Nomak.
"The one thing I asked the director was to
make sure that [there weren't] any
frowns or anything sculpted into it,"
Goss said. "I wanted it in complete
repose so that anything that the
character needed I could bring to
it." After assimilating with the cos-
tume, Goss used the hideous '
fagade to the advantage of his
characterization. "It became an
asset, it became the biggest
friend that I had."
While his careful work in/
"Mo' Better Blues" and "Jungle
Fever" brought Snipes critical
acclaim early in his career, it is
his role as an action star that has.
brought him international fame.
His affinity for mass-consumed
blockbusters stems from the many
cinematic uses of a big-money pay-
check. "The difficulty is finding the
writers and also the funds to do that.
So this is why we do the 'Blades.'
We take the revenue from the
'Blades' and fund all of the disap- With karate he'll kick;

pearing acts."
The actor hopes to parlay some of his current suc-
cess into the production of a film about the notorious
Black Panthers and a respite from his extreme physical
exertion. "We hope to revisit it next year. Comic book
action heroes, man, you know what I'm saying, a
brother gets tired, man, by the time it's over with."
Goss attempted to undercut the comic-book aura of
the film by playing Nomak at a slightly lower pitch
than the average graphic novel baddie. "The thing
about villainy,- I think, is that it kind of applies, real
back to as it should do, to the reality of life. And vil-
lainy is always like, if you have someone who is very
powerful and very dangerous, they don't have to be
waving their arms. Like in real life, the guy that's giv-
ing it the arms and giving it the mouth, he doesn't want
to fight. The guy that comes up to you, toe to toe and
says 'So what's going to happen?' Hes the guy you
shake his hand and say 'Hey, let's just move on."'
The two men concur that the sequel's graphic com-
plexity and increased gore quotient were due mostly to
the trained (if slightly bizarre) hand of director
Guillermo del Toro. Known mostly for his stylish hor-
ror films, del Toro brought his sensibilities as a former
make-up artist to breath undead life into his character.
"[Guillermo] knows where he's going to put his stuff,
but he wants every angle, and you don't question the
guy."
Snipes admits that he would question del Toro, but
only for the good of the film. "[He] doesn't come from
an action film background, and in many ways he had
some apprehensions about doing this kind of film. So
we made an agreement, 'I'll defer to you in the
areas you know best, you'll defer to me in the
areas I know best."' Goss sums up the director in
a simplistic way that would make his fans proud.
"He's one of the biggest men you'll ever meet.
He has a big big big hear, and one of the sickest
minds you'll ever meet."
While Snipes is known for his tough-guy, mar-
tial arts roles Goss had to prepare for
nearly half a year for the films intri-
cate physicality. "The whole thing
about this movie, from start to fin-
ish, was about preparation.... The
martial arts training was tough
because I hadn't done this
y┬░before, and I wanted to bring a
dynamic to the role. I wanted to
be a valid nemesis and also a valid
contribution to the film because I was a big fan
of the previous [one]."
Snipes' own physical problems had less to do
wth the work than with the conditions filming
on location. "The Czech Republic is as cold as
I've ever been" the tough-guy laughed. "It's
extremely cold. It doesn't do much for
your male ego."
Despite his humble admission, the
press was still anxious to hear
Snipes reaction to his status as a
universal sex symbol. "My voice
Courtesy of New Line gets deeper, and say 'Right on.' Is
your ass. that what they say? Well, right on."

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