It’s easy to marvel — no pun intended — at all the comic-book imagination that ends up getting squandered by pop-goes-the-action moviemakers. In Blade: Trinity, our stoic, pinwheeling, half-vamp/half-human hero, after having defeated just about every vampire around in the first two Blade films, now faces off against the ultimate bloodsucker: That’s right, Dracula himself. When you consider how super-dapper Wesley Snipes looks with his flattop, swirly neck tattoos, and gleaming incisors, you’d think that a 21st-century ninja update of Dracula would at least match him in visual flamboyance. As embodied, however, by Australian hunk Dominic Purcell, with close-cropped hair and the imperial strut of a Eurotrash runway model, Dracula, or Drake as he is called here, just comes off as some guy who looks like he’s about to fight Steven Seagal. There’s an amusing scene in which he saunters into a punk vampire boutique that sells Dracula vibrators alongside boxes of Count Chocula, and he makes his displeasure known. But really, as a bloodlust icon, he would scarcely qualify for Van Helsing II.
Blade: Trinity is blunt-witted, visually pedestrian, and overly long, with too many scenes of Blade and his cohorts standing around in darkened corridors, waiting for their enemies to show up. The action, however, is as throat-grabbing as you want it to be. As one of Blade’s two fellow vampire hunters, Ryan Reynolds, the title prepster from National Lampoon’s Van Wilder, has pumped up his body, but he retains the light sarcastic delivery of a college scam artist, and he enlivens the film considerably. The apple-cheeked Jessica Biel is even better: She plays Abigail, daughter of Kris Kristofferson’s wizened Whistler, with a hip-swinging, devil-in-disguise sex appeal that recalls the ’70s porn goddess Annette Haven.
You’ve got to hand it to Wesley Snipes: The Blade films may be the pulpy, coruscating essence of glorified videogames, but he lends them their teensy bit of gravitas. For Blade, fighting vampires isn’t fun, it’s stoic duty, and Snipes’ gravely noble scowl never lets you forget that. It’s about time, though, for this character to get sheathed.