While X-Men is considered the movie that got people excited about Marvel comics as movies, Blade was the first 'good' Marvel Movie, and is sometimes overlooked. Not only did it take a Marvel character and present him in an accessible form that was both believable and realistic, it stands up as a good action/adventure movie in its own right.
Blade is a vampire hunter called the 'daywalker' and is a cross between humanity and vampires, though he hates the latter. Due to his mother being bitten by a vampire when she was pregnant, he inherited some of the traits of vampires while missing others. He has enhanced strength and reflexes but he also isn't hurt by sunlight or holy water. While this sounds perfect he also has the hunger for blood, which he sates with a serum that he's developed.
His enemy is Deacon Frost, a vampire who is searching for a power in the form of a legend among the vampires – La Magra. It would essentially make him a god and the most powerful man in the world, so naturally he's drawn to it. Along the way he has various encounters with Blade. Frost also has an agenda with the other vampires, so he has schemes that work against them as well as Blade.
Blade and Deacon Frost were characters that first appeared in Marvel Comics, and were created by Marv Wolfman. The film drew some notoriety due to the court battle between Wolfman and Marvel over creator rights with regard to the character. Blade was never one of the more mainstream characters from Marvel and he had more of an edge to him than characters like Spider-Man, and he inhabited horror books.
The DVD is part of the Platinum Series from New Line, and it features the complete movie in anamorphic widescreen format along with several special features. It retails for around $15 and can be found at Amazon.com and most major mass-market retailers. The interface is pretty straightforward and while it is interactive it isn't that flashy or immersive.
Like most DVDs this includes the complete movie and a variety of extra features. The movie is well worth watching for fans of Blade, action/adventure or Vampires as it covers all three genres, and covers them well. This movie is based on a comic book character, and there is plenty of violence as in comics. The violence in the film is graphic and there are some sexual references that make this film more suited to a mature audience than for younger children. The film is rated R and the supplemental material is not rated.
Wesley Snipes does an excellent job as Blade with both acting and action scenes. Snipes also did double duty as a producer on the film, and contributes to the audio commentary. Blade comes across as a driven, yet haunted man throughout the film. Stephen Dorff also gives an excellent performance as Blade's nemesis, showing a clearly evil character who really enjoys being the way he is.
The action scenes are well choreographed as Blade uses a veritable cornucopia of weapons to dispatch his undead enemies, included guns, a flying glaive, stakes and a sword. The deaths of the vampires are portrayed with computer effects as they disintegrate and fade to dust as they're killed. The action is well paced, and at times almost seems too fast to follow.
The vampires shown in Blade are a bit different that those seen in other films and literature, and they are more contemporary. They also work within 'clans' and manipulate things behind the scenes. They are far more than simply predators in the night preying on the weak. A rift is shown between the 'converted' vampires and those of pure blood (vampires by birth), which is something that hasn't been touched on in other vampire films.
The DVD format shows off the film well with a clear picture and sound and anamorphic widescreen picture to preserve the original aspect ratio and present the film as it was shown theatrically (though usually on a smaller screen). Your results will vary greatly depending on what equipment you use in your home.
The extras for Blade are kind of hit and miss. There is a wealth of information on the disc, with a few extras if you have a PC with DVD, but most of the features will run on a standard DVD player.
The 'Designing Blade' featurette is the best of the lot. It has in-depth information on the making of the film and goes into many aspects of it including fights and effects. After that, the featurette 'Blood Tide' is next, with a look at Vampires and Vampire mythos over the ages.
The film has two audio commentaries, one by Wesley Snipes, Stephen Dorff and the production crew and one by the film's composer. The composer commentary track is done with the film running but no sound from it other than the score and the composer's comments, which is usual. Running commentary is a matter of personal taste – it clearly takes away from the viewing experience by having to listen to commentary that could have been done in a different format (such as an interview and then film clips), but some people like them.
There is an alternate ending that is included as one of the special features under the heading 'La Magra'. It was not completed as far as the effects go, but it does have some rough effects added. It also illustrates though the scene and the framing commentary for it why the scene was deleted and changed. Blade is a stronger film with the ending that was used over the deleted one, and this also shows why many scenes end up on the cutting room floor because they really don't work in the film.
There is a short featurette about 'dark comics', which is interesting, but really doesn't touch very much on Blade itself and is more generic. It has interviews with Stan Lee, Brian Clemens, Mick Farren and Gareb Shamus. Noticeably absent is the creator of Blade – Marv Wolfman (most likely due to legal issues). His absence makes the featurette hollow, though it is somewhat interesting for general comics fans.
Beyond that there is a page with the symbols and some background on all the twelve tribes of vampires, cast and crew bios and the trailer. There is also a script you can access via PC and a short section that covers the basics of comics creation from penciling to coloring.
Blade was a financial success and this led to some merchandising from the film. There was a line of action figures from Toy Biz that only included 4 figures, but is still highly sought on the aftermarket. The standard Blade figure from this line (shown in the title image above) was loaded with both articulation and weaponry, and is one of the better movie toys made. There is also a replica of Blade's sword made by Factory X (who designed and produced some of the weapons for Blade 2).
Blade is succeeded by a sequel – Blade 2 – which will be in theatres by the end of March 2002. Blade 2 will also have a few items of merchandise that will follow over the next year, though no action figure line since as an 'R' movie retailers are reluctant to carry toys from it, though Toy Biz will be producing a 12" Blade figure as part of the Marvel Studios line.
Feature Running Time: 120 minutes
Studio web site: New Line
Suggested retail price: $19.98 (USD)