Tag Archives: Leonor Varela

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.

Captive (2015) Review

Time: 97 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1]
Cast:
David Oyelowo as Brian Nichols
Kate Mara as Ashley Smith
Michael K. Williams as Detective John Chestnut
Leonor Varela as Detective Carmen Sanchez
Jessica Oyelowo as Meredith MacKenzie
Mimi Rogers as Kim Rogers
Director: Jerry Jameson

Brian Nichols (David Oyelowo) becomes the subject of a citywide manhunt after breaking out of a courthouse jail and killing four people. His frantic escape brings him to the apartment of Ashley Smith (Kate Mara), a single mother and recovering methamphetamine addict. Held hostage by Nichols in her own home, the scared woman looks for guidance from “The Purpose Driven Life,” Rick Warren’s best-selling, inspirational book. As she reads aloud, Ashley and her would-be killer come to a crossroad.

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Honestly, I didn’t really think Captive was going to be that good of a movie, the trailer honestly looked terrible. The main reason I decided to see it were the leads with Kate Mara and David Oyelowo. Watching Captive, I have to say that it was better than I thought it would be but its still only decent at best. The performances are impressive enough but aside from that, there isn’t many good aspects about this movie. The story isn’t very ‘captivating’, the direction for the most part just feels basic, and the film doesn’t have the emotional impact that its trying to deliver. The lead actors really made this movie at least somewhat interesting to watch.

I think I should mention first of all that this movie is based on a true story, so any clichéd moment in the film I can’t really criticise because it (likely) happened. However, they could’ve done a better job at making it feel more real. Overall the story is passable enough but the only reason that some of the scenes had me interested are because of Mara and Oyelowo, take away their performances and those scenes just really aren’t interesting at all. Those two really made this movie kind of work on some level (I’ll get to that later). One of the things that I dreaded with this movie was something in the trailer for Captive, it seems to have this incredibly ham fisted religious message. Fortunately in the actual film it doesn’t beat you over the head as much as it seems from the trailer. It’s a small aspect of the film, it doesn’t really work within the film but its distracting at worst. Honestly there’s not much to say about the story itself except that its not that interesting but Mara and Oyelowo made it somewhat work.

Kate Mara and David Oyelowo are both great and their performances were the best parts of the movie. They share great chemistry and the interactions with them were the highlights of the film. Kate’s character Ashley is recovering from a drug addiction and while that is often a cliché in a lot of movies, Mara portrayed that very well and made it feel real, I’d probably say that this is one of her best performances. There is a bit of an arc with Ashley recovering from drug addiction and attempting to meet her daughter the same day that she comes into contact with Oyelowo’s character, and while this arc isn’t great, it’s done decently enough. David Oyelowo is really good as well, he’s both incredibly intimidating but also has a human side which Oyelowo effectively conveys. I’m glad that David brought that out because to be quite honest, the redemption arc for his character Brian… wasn’t very good. We are supposed to get the feeling that Brian is changing, but I just didn’t get that. It is so messily done and they don’t clearly convey why he makes certain decisions and goes through certain changes, it feels like the people working on the film couldn’t themselves figure out why he did what he did and so they just didn’t give him reasons. That’s not necessarily on David though, he does a good job with what he has, he’s actually more effective at giving his character humanity than the writers and the director. The supporting cast are also good, with actors like Michael K. Williams involved but its Mara and Oyelowo who are the stand outs.

The direction by Jerry Jameson is fine, there’s not really a whole lot to say about it. Most of the time it feels like a TV movie, its so basic and simple and there’s not much to it. With that said, whenever the film is supposed to be tense, especially during the early scenes with Mara and Oyelowo inside Ashley’s house, it is very effective. It makes you feel claustrophobic and tense as to what Oyelowo’s character might do next.

Captive is not that great of a movie, it just manages to reach the level of passability. Mara and Oyelowo were for me the stand out parts of the movie and prevent this movie from sinking into mediocrity, aside from that, there’s not much reason to check it out. The direction is mostly simple (aside from some admittedly well done tense scenes), the emotion that the movie is going for doesn’t land, the story is average and not always investing, the character arcs aren’t always done effectively, it’s got a lot of problems. If you are curious I suggest checking it out for yourself, but outside the performances, don’t expect anything great.