Blade DVD Review

Simple creatures as they are, vampires have been around for what seems like eternity. They have also filled our movie screens for seemingly just as long. No will likely ever forget Universal's original treatment back in 1931, but much like the legend itself, the movies have tweaked their origins to suit themselves. "Blade" is a fantastic, brutal, and wild ride with a great new look at how these creatures live. And die.

Vampires live among normal humans, feeding on us when they need to. Paying off politicians and the police, they have succeeded in their lifestyle for hundreds of years. Now, rebel Deacon Frost (Stephen Dorff) has an alternate lifestyle idea for the bloodsuckers. The only thing in his way is Blade (Wesley Snipes), a half-human, half-vampire intent on ridding the world from the underground society even since he learned they killed his mother.

Within minutes, "Blade" earns an R-rating from the MPAA. Gushing blood, coarse language, and on incredible fight scene sets the tone the rest of the movie will rely on. In other words, if you can't take the opening moments, don't even try the rest of the film.

For what basically boils down to a creature feature, there is a surprising amount of character development. Obviously Blade himself is the focus as the script moves along, showcasing how he came to be and what he needs to do in order to survive. His sidekick in the action, Abraham Whistler (Kris Kristofferson), also has a nice storied past that fleshes out a basic vampire-on-the-loose flick. Both performances only make everything seem more realistic (why Snipes doesn't get more work is baffling).

Of course, that's not why everyone is here. Based off a dark comic of the same name, "Blade" has some spectacular action sequences, climaxing with an exhilarating sword fight between Frost and his nemesis. Everything is done is stylish fashion (before "The Matrix" would make it so commonplace) and the choreography never misses a beat.

Only the special effects keep this from being a flawless comic book adaptation. Though you can certainly find worse, CG shots are blatantly obvious every time they are used and hardly get any better as the movie moves along. All of the blood and gore effects work just fine and it's a real shame everything else fails so miserably.

Taken as a whole however, "Blade" succeeds in creating a great movie for the older crowd, a great change from the other comic translations like "X-Men." Not to say that "X-Men" wasn't enjoyable, it's just nice to see that no compromises were made and the brutality made it intact. It makes the entire movie stronger. (**** out of *****)

An early DVD release from New Line, this was one of the first discs to get their "Platinum Series" treatment. For such an early release, this film looks fantastic. While most studios struggled to keep compression problems under control, New Line made sure it wasn't problem. Filled with stunning contrast, the bright whites feature no noise while the muted color tones are kept as the filmmakers obviously intended. Very brief moments do show some compression artifacts, but these are minor and in no way detract from what is an almost flawless picture. (*****)

Continuing its dominance from the early generation of DVD, "Blade" sounds stunning as well. This is a brutal, unrelenting 5.1 track that hammers home both the bass and immersion factor these silver discs are known for. The mostly techno soundtrack is enough to work over any subwoofer and each blow Blade connects with is felt. Both the surround speakers showcase subtlety in the form of papers rustling and all-out action during the fights. This remains a fantastic mix almost six years later. (*****)

An array of supplements keeps this disc near perfection. Six people, from the actors to the crew, get in on a great commentary track. There's hardly a dull moment, though you do have to wonder where director Stephen Norrington is. A second commentary is quite unique, letting the composer Mark Isham talk over an isolated score. There's obviously not as much information here, but fans of the soundtrack will be pleased.

Starting off the featurettes is "La Magra," a 14-minute overview of the how the film came together (via interviews) along with some deleted scenes and an absolutely awful alternate ending. "Designing Blade" is pretty much self-explanatory for 22- minutes, featuring concept art and a look at the special effects. "Origins of Blade" has an interview with Stan Lee (and others) as they look at how comics evolved to suit the growing tastes of an older audience for 12-minutes.

"Blood Tide" is a look at vampire mythology with interviews with priests and those who are "experts" on the topic. If vamps are your thing, this 20-minute documentary should be found interesting. "House of Erebus" is a text look at the various tribes of the vampire council featured in the film. "Pencil to Post" finishes off the unique features with pictures of how a comic is drawn from the initial sketches of a panel to the final inking. The rest of the disc is the usual array of trailers and crew information. (*****)

Director Stephen Norrington would not take on this films sequel. Instead, he decided to torture us all with the Sean Connery vehicle, "League of Extraordinary Gentleman." Thanks. Thankfully, action director Guillermo del Toro would step behind the camera to take on the slightly lesser sequel and keep the series going.

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