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Wesley Snipes hopes to be counted out in 'Blade: Trinity'

By Richard von Busack

Perhaps immortality gives you a wider perspective. You'd need perspective if you had had as bad a year as Dracula. The libelous Van Helsing was bad enough; Blade: Trinity is even more down for the Count. Following up Guillermo del Toro's gripping sequel, Blade 2, new director David S. Goyer (a perennial B-movie screenwriter) is so soaked in video-game aesthetics that you wonder where the joystick went. Shot in Seattle (Vancouver, of course), where life is cheap, the film mostly takes place in a badly computer-generated office building leased by the shape-shifting immortal Dracula, called "Drake" (Dominic Purcell). Having had enough of humans--maybe he saw a preview of this sucker?--Drake rises and tries to take over the world.

Goyer soaks the film in spurious geek chic, even unto including "Trinity" in the title to lure in the Matrixies. In critic R. Meltzer's words, Goyer is one of that vast army of people who made the word "cool" useless forever. The solitary Blade himself--Wesley Snipes' finely muscled half-breed vampire slayer--is held hostage by the police. The trouble begins when he is rescued by an annoying team of commandos called the Nightstalkers. The story is that their leader is an ex-vamp who rehabbed. The real story, of course, is that the cast here is ready to take over the franchise. In further direct-to-video sequels, Snipes can drift in for five-minute cameos in Blade 4-6, giving a good three minutes, just as Kris Kristofferson (from Blade) does here.

The vampire hunters include team leader Hannibal King, a wisecracking jerk played by Ryan Reynolds of Van Wilder. Reynolds is the easy winner of the 2004 "Most Annoying Sidekick" trophy with oak-leaf clusters and special-circumstances citation. Maddened by his supposed quips, even Dracula sets aside his centuries-old dignity and calls Hannibal "smart ass." Other team members include the compound-bow-carrying Abigail (Jessica Biel), whose role is a long product placement for the iPod. Parker Posey, as the villainess Danica, struts out some peculiar high-fashion outfits. "She keeps her fangs in her vagina," quips Hannibal, as many of us die-hard Buffy fans look for projectiles to throw at the screen.

One sequence has members of the team watching the 1960 movie Incubus, the made-in-Big Sur all-Esperanto horror movie starring William Shatner and a live billy goat playing Satan. While I'm glad to see this obscurer-than-obscure movie get a little plug, here's a criminal example of the law that you should never cut to a movie that's better than the one you've made.

The only macabre sequence in Blade: Trinity is a blood-farming facility, with brain-dead humans kept in giant sandwich bags. It's also a moment that Snipes has for himself, with time to react and be thoughtful. Blade: Trinity is offensive to the extreme, but the worst of it is how it takes Snipes' solitude and gravity and overrides it for a yapping pack of assistants.

Blade: Trinity (R; 105 min.), written and directed by David S. Goyer, photographed by Gabriel Beristain and starring Wesley Snipes, Jessica Biel and Ryan Reynolds, plays countywide.

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From the December 8-15, 2004 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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