Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Movie and DVD Reviews: The best and not-so-best movies available on DVD, and whatever else catches my eye.

Mimsy Review: Blade

Reviewed by Jerry Stratton, April 4, 2001

Some motherfuckers are always trying to ice skate up hill.

Special features

Cast Information5
DVD-ROM Enhancements5
Deleted Scenes5
History Lesson5
Isolated Score6
Making Of6

The best modern vampire movie I’ve seen, this is not a horror movie at all: it’s an adventure, related as much to comic books as to movies. And it’s almost an early “screen test” for “The Matrix”, related to “The Matrix” through “Dark City” and Hong Kong action films. This is an action film. You know right from the first scene that this movie is here to show asses being kicked.

DirectorStephen Norrington
WriterDavid S. Goyer
Movie Rating7
Transfer Quality7
Overall Rating8
  • Enhanced Widescreen
Blade (Weapon): Blade scene (Weapon)

This movie is a far cry from last night’s “Salem’s Lot”. Where “Salem’s Lot” was clearly stuck in the seventies, “Blade” is just as clearly a “2000” film. “Salem’s Lot” was a horror movie; even if the humans win in the short term, they’re going to have to keep on running. The vampires are just too strong, and humans too weak. “Blade”, however, recognizes that with big enough guns, vampires go down.

“Blade” has a very simple story, but it goes for a very stylized telling. Either the director or the writer, in the commentary, called it as much an homage to Peckinpah as to other vampire movies. Stylistically, “Blade” is related to both “Dark City” and “The Matrix”. Writer David Goyer was also one of the writers for “Dark City”. The connection to “Matrix” is more vague, through common Hong Kong ancesters (although there may well be common special effects and visual effects folks in both movies—Blade appears to have hired just about everyone in Hollywood to get the movie’s effects done).

One of the odder things about watching this movie again is watching it again after seeing “The Tao of Steve”. Donal Logue has some of the same mannerisms in “Blade” as he does in “Steve”, and it makes for a very odd mix. I half expect Donal to start telling Deacon Frost how to get women. (Despite this, Donal does a good job as the humorous right-hand man to Stephen Dorff’s evil mastermind.)

The story is based vaguely on some characters created by Marv Wolfman in the Marvel series “Tomb of Dracula”: both Blade and Deacon Frost were his characters. The movie also seems to be lightly influenced by the White Wolf role-playing game “Vampire: The Gathering”. The latter influence is especially striking on viewing the “powers” of each of the vampire “tribes”.

Blade (Vamp): Blade scene (Vamp)

The commentary is very good. It brings together director Stephen Norrington, writer David Goyer, actors Wesley Snipes (who was also a producer) and Stephen Dorff, cinematographer Theo van de Sande, production designer Kirk M. Petruccelli, and producer Peter Frankfurt. I’m not sure if everyone was actually together when they made it—I think they were not. There is very little interaction between the various people making the commentary. (I’m almost certain that David Goyer was not there, since many of his “commentaries” are duplicates of what he says in the “making of” sections.) But they still tell great stories about the people involved with the movie and about the making of the movie. One of the more interesting parts was when cinematographer van de Sande started talking about how much more effort he has to do than cinematographers used to have to do, to keep the film true to his efforts, to “protect” his work, because nowadays CGI can vastly alter the film.

There is also an interesting commentary by Mark Isham, the composer, over his score. The score has been isolated so that all you hear is the music and Mark’s commentary on the music. His commentary ranges from the creative process to the cues. It is not completely isolated, however. At some points which are unexplained, the voices come back, for example when Whistler explains the ultraviolet flashlight weapon. Some parts are excised, also not explained, though I suspect legal reasons.

The DVD-ROM enhancements are slightly better than normal. You can actually read the screenplay from your web browser if you don’t have Javascript turned on. And if you don’t have Shockwave, you can still view the other features. Whichever web writer designed DVD is a step above PC Friendly’s usual designers. The DVD includes the signs for each of the twelve tribes, two quicktime versions of the trailers (a small, 8 MB one and a higher quality 25 MB one), information about the characters and their actors, information about the production, and a “Flash Novel” called “Living Prophecy” (obviously, you do need Flash for the latter).

Blade (Yeah): Blade scene (Yeah)

The “Blood Tide” feature is an interesting collection of interview snippets with various experts and fantasizers on the vampire mythos. It doesn’t go far enough, but it is still much better than expected.

The “La Magra” section includes an alternate ending that they later decided to drop in favor of a more “human” ending. They talk about this more on the commentary track, describing in detail how they came to the conclusion that the ending needed to be changed. Some cool stuff about how popular films are made.

The “making of” is nicely detailed, and interviews a few of the people involved in design, makeup, and special effects. The cast and crew biographies are reasonably detailed, and are duplicated on the DVD-ROM section. The “House of Erebus” duplicates the DVD-ROM section where the “signs” for each of the twelve houses are displayed. And the “pencil to post” section of the DVD describes very curtly how comics are made, and then shows a few pencil sketches and similar shots from the movie. It also has some printed interview questions with Stan Lee (who also appears elsewhere on the DVD in video interviews) and concept illustrator Patrick Janicke.

All in all, if you are a fan of Blade, you will definitely want this DVD. If you haven’t seen Blade, but liked The Matrix, you will also very probably want this DVD. If you like fast-moving, simply-told, stylistic action movies, this is the movie for you.

Recommendation: Purchase

DirectorStephen Norrington
WriterDavid S. Goyer
ActorsWesley Snipes, Stephen Dorff, Kris Kristofferson
Spoken languageEnglish
Special FeaturesCast Information, DVD-ROM Enhancements, Deleted Scenes, History Lesson, Isolated Score, Making Of, Sketches, Trailer
More links

If you enjoyed Blade…

For more about David S. Goyer, you might also be interested in Dark City.

For more about vampires, you might also be interested in Salem’s Lot, Fevre Dream, World of Darkness, and Vampires of York.

For more about Wesley Snipes, you might also be interested in U.S. Marshals.