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Blade 2 (2002) Review

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Blade 2

Time: 117 minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1]
Cast:
Wesley Snipes as Eric Brooks/Blade
Kris Kristofferson as Abraham Whistler
Ron Perlman as Dieter Reinhardt
Leonor Varela as Nyssa Damaskinos
Norman Reedus as Scud
Thomas Kretschmann as Eli Damaskino
Luke Goss as Jared Nomak
Director: Guillermo del Toro

A rare mutation gives birth to a new vampire community called the Reapers, who attack both humans and vampires. Blade (Wesley Snipes), along with an elite vampire force, is asked to wipe out the Reaper’s population.

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The first Blade turned out to be quite a success, and nowadays would be considered an underrated comic book movie. There were definitely some noticeable issues, but it seemed like it would be hard to top that with a sequel. Well Blade 2 did that with Guillermo del Toro, which takes the first movie and improves on it in many ways.

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Blade 2 definitely benefits from the fact that it doesn’t need to establish much of its universe like the first one did, even though that movie did handle the worldbuilding pretty well. The plot and overall movie is very fast paced, not leaving us with a moment to feel bored. Strangely enough one of the opening scenes started with a recap of the first movie by Wesley Snipes as Blade. It did take me a while to get used to the style, especially in Blade’s first action scene. After that point though, I got used to it. Now the movie is definitely less about the characters, and there’s nothing about Blade’s backstory here. Not that it’s bad but it definitely has a different focus compared to the first movie. It’s a much darker movie too, the first Blade had a dark atmosphere but it was quite cheesy at the same time. There are for sure some entertaining moments and some notable one liners but it’s definitely a different tone. A big part of that is the emphasis on horror, stronger than in the first movie, while remaining very much an action movie. The plot is a lot more focussed, there aren’t many subplots going on, and it’s very straightforward. I wouldn’t say the plot is great or anything, but it’s good enough for this movie.

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Wesley Snipes is as usual fantastic as Blade, he’s great at playing him both with the character with the charisma, the fight scenes and in delivering the lines perfectly. It’s hard seeing anyone else play the character. Kris Kristofferson is back as Whistler after he was assumed dead in the last movie. In the first Blade, Whistler got to do a couple things but here he manages to do a lot more, and he’s great. The supporting cast are good too, with the likes of Ron Perlman, Norman Reedus, and Leonor Varela. The villain played by Luke Goss was certainly more scary and threatening than Deacon Frost from the first Blade, but as the character and performance was less memorable. Still, he was different enough as a character to make him a decent antagonist for Blade to go up against.

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The key reason this movie works so well is director Guillermo del Toro. He added a lot of his own style into the movie, and it really makes it stand apart to the first movie. One of the things that you notice early on is that the lighting and colour really stands out, it’s a stunning movie to watch. The action scenes are also filmed differently, the editing is a lot more fast paced, and I think that’s what took me a while to get used to. After that first action scene though, I really liked them. The CGI is great sometimes, and pretty fake at other times, even looking a bit dated. The CGI especially stands out as being awkward when it’s meant to be representing people fighting. There’s particularly one action scene in front of lights which has moments where Wesley Snipes gets replaced with an animated version of Wesley Snipes, and he just looks really fake and cartoonish. Though this doesn’t take away from the action too much. As I said earlier, Blade 2 leans into the horror aspect a lot more than the first movie. In the first Blade it had some horror aspects, mainly to do with the vampire stuff. Here the vampires are a lot scarier, especially with the additions of the reapers. The monster designs are creative and very well detailed, and pretty much what you can expect from a del Toro movie.

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Blade 2 is a really entertaining and faced paced action and horror movie, which really works greatly with the addition of Guillermo del Toro as director. The 2 Blade movies are roughly on the same level, stronger in some aspects, weaker in others. All in all, I slighter prefer the second movie, but I highly recommend checking out both movies if you haven’t already.

Blade (1998) Review

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Blade

Time: 120 minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1]
Cast:
Wesley Snipes as Eric Brooks/Blade
N’Bushe Wright as Dr. Karen Jenson
Stephen Dorff as Deacon Frost
Kris Kristofferson as Abraham Whistler
Donal Logue as Quinn
Director: Stephen Norrington

Blade (Wesley Snipes), who is part-vampire and part-mortal, becomes a vampire hunter to protect human beings. He prevents vampires from taking control over the human race.

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Blade was a hit back in 1998 but it’s been somewhat forgotten in recent years among all the numerous amounts of comic book movies released the past decade. It was the first R rated comic book movie, the first comic book movie to have an African American lead, and also led the way for some of the other comic book movies to follow like Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man. It also helped make audiences to take comic book movies more seriously after some other comic book movies like Batman and Robin did make them out to be a bit of a joke. Rewatching Blade now, it surprisingly mostly holds up and is a lot of fun.

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Blade is 2 hours long and from beginning to end I was entertained immensely. The opening in an underground vampire nightclub was the perfect beginning for this movie as it really set the tone for the rest of the movie. Blade does somewhat take things seriously, and there is a dark atmosphere, and at the same time it’s also got a very cheesy tone, with silly dialogue and multiple dumb moments which were also fun in their own rights. It blends the two elements effectively. It is also an action horror hybrid and delivers on both sides of that. The worldbuilding was very strong, establishing many concepts, groups and characters without giving annoying info dumps. The story is decent enough but does get a little convoluted with a number of subplots happening at the same time. Blade’s story also doesn’t have many surprises, and in the second half it does have a typical world ending plot. There are some cliches for sure, especially when it comes to both fantasy and comic book stories. As it approaches the third act it’s particularly a very typical climax, but I was still entertained watching it.

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Most of the cast are good in their parts. Wesley Snipes is pitch perfect in the role of Blade. He’s got a great screen presence and vibe around him, really selling the lines (including the really cheesy one liners), and even the way he moves and poses is great. He definitely knows what kind of movie he’s in, and he owns it from start to finish. Kris Kristofferson and N’Bushe Wright both work playing allies to Blade. The weakest link is Stephen Doriff, who is rather weak as the villain Deacon Frost. He’s not bad by any means and he definitely plays up the role, but it’s just hard to take him seriously as a threat.

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Blade is directed by Stephen Norrington, who did quite a good job. The movie is full of style, which really helped the movie work as well as it did. The visuals are slick for a late 90s flick. A big standout part of the movie are the martial arts fight scenes which still hold up today. The choreography is great, and almost Hong Kong inspired. Much of the action are captured in wide shots, so we can see all the fighting on screen, without any annoying zoom ins or close ups. We get to see how great the stunts are. As previously mentioned, this movie is R rated, and there’s a lot of blood (as there should be in a Blade movie). The movie really benefited from this rating, and it allowed the filmmakers a lot more freedom without any restrictions. There may be a Blade movie in development by the MCU, but I don’t see how it’s possible to do a non R rated version of it as a movie. A lot of the effects are a little dated to say the least (especially in the climax), but you can look past it. The music accompanying the movie is well fitting, with a lot of breakbeats and techno riffs that goes well with the face paced vibe of the action scenes. It is definitely a very 90s movie, with the lead character in all black leather and sunglasses, the exaggerated fighting sound effects, the visual effects and soundtrack, but I guess that’s part of its charm.

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Blade is a really fun action and horror hybrid comic book movie that mostly holds up. Stephen Norrington’s direction makes the movie really entertaining, the script is gloriously cheesy and entertaining, and Wesley Snipes is outstanding as Blade. About that new Blade movie in the MCU, I love the idea of Mahershala Ali as Blade. However I’m not sure if a Blade movie in the MCU would reach its fullest potential. Nonetheless, I’m still excited for it. If you haven’t seen the 1998 Blade yet, I highly recommend checking it out, it really was ahead of its time.

Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (1974) Review

Time: 112 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1]
Cast:
Ellen Burstyn as Alice Hyatt
Alfred Lutter as Tommy Hyatt
Kris Kristofferson as David
Diane Ladd as Florence Jean Castleberry
Jodie Foster as Audrey
Harvey Keitel as Ben
Director: Martin Scorsese

When Alice Hyatt (Ellen Burstyn) is suddenly widowed after years of domesticity, she decides to travel to Monterey, California with her 11-year-old son Tommy (Alfred Lutter) to resume a singing career. In Phoenix, Arizona she gets a job singing at a piano bar and begins a relationship with Ben (Harvey Keitel), who turns out to be married and a spouse abuser. In Tucson, she puts her dream of singing on hold and becomes a waitress. She meets a farmer, David (Kris Kristofferson), and begins to think about a new life of domesticity.

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Fresh off the success with Mean Streets, Martin Scorsese would take on a different kind of movie that he’s not typically known for with Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore. It’s a genuine family drama that’s well written and directed, with the excellent lead performance from Ellen Burstyn that ties it all together and makes it all work.

The script by Robert Getchell was really great. The plot follows Alice and her son as they go from place to place. The plot meanders for sure, and occasionally it may have the odd section not being that interesting but otherwise I was generally invested throughout. There is plenty of emotion packed into this movie, but it’s delivered in a way that feels gritty and genuinely real. The more humorous moments bar a number of gags surrounding one character also fit in well with the movie. It is a movie where you just watch the main characters live their lives, and most of it held my attention.

Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore is really Ellen Burstyn’s movie as the titular character. She is great and although I haven’t seen a ton from her, I think it would have to be one of her best performances. The film gives Alice a ton of depth throughout the plot, and she’s very easy to like and understand over the course of the whole movie, especially given everything she has to handle and deal with. This remains the only female led Scorsese film to date, and given how well this turned out, I’d like to see him do another. Alfred Lutter is Alice’s son Tommy, and I’ll just go ahead and say that he’s one of the most annoying child characters I’ve seen, but I guess he was intentionally annoying. They are convincing as mother and son and share great chemistry together. The rest of the cast play much smaller roles but their strong and memorable and work well in the movie. Diane Ladd plays a waitress who provided a lot of effective comic relief whenever she was on screen. Harvey Keitel also has a small role as a man who Alice becomes interested in at an early point, he’s good as always and especially great and very intense in his last scene. Kris Kristofferson also added a lot to the movie when he came on screen in the latter half of the movie. You even get Jodie Foster in a minor role here before she starred in Scorsese’s Taxi Driver. There are only couple of weak links when it comes to the characters. One is the husband character at the start of the movie, you don’t really like anything about him and then he just dies. I know that Scorsese originally had a longer cut where it fleshed him out more beforehand, but given that the movie is about the mother and son dynamic really, I guess maybe it’s just better how it is. There’s also another waitress character used for comedy in Valerie Curtin’s character, but she’s just used as the butt of so many jokes and it just really didn’t work. She didn’t even really feel like a character and they could’ve done without creating so many unfunny jokes scenarios surrounding her, it distracted more than anything and belonged in a way worse movie than this.

With this movie being a family drama, Martin Scorsese’s direction doesn’t really provide many opportunities to be showy, but it’s still great and fittingly restrained. There were even some shots, camera movements and editing choices at times that you really noticed and helped make the scenes even better. He really captured the story very well.

Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore is a solid family drama, with the performances being the highlights, especially from Ellen Burstyn. Now if you were starting off with the aim of watching a bunch of Martin Scorsese movies, I wouldn’t necessarily say to start with this one. However in any circumstance, I do think it’s worth watching, even just on its own. It’s one of his overlooked movies that definitely should be getting a lot more attention.