Ever since I watched the first Twilight movie, I’ve been morbidly intrigued by vampire media. I guess you could say I’m a sucker for it (pun intended). I consumed whatever I could, from Buffy to more tame takes on the creature like My Babysitter’s a Vampire (does anyone still remember that show??) and Interview with the Vampire.
As I got older, I started looking into media set in different periods and places, as well as media made by different countries. As a result, I found some of the most creative and interesting takes on vampires. Surprisingly enough, I hadn’t watched the adaptation of Marvel’s take on the creature, Blade. I had heard about it nonstop from my dad, a massive sci-fi and horror fan, but I figured I would get to it when I felt like it. I didn’t see it as something particularly intriguing other than the iconic opening sequence. Flash forward to a few weeks ago, when I heard that it had turned 25 years old. Looking into it more, I learned that the premise was actually quite intriguing; a half-vampire vowing to hunt down other vampires sounds like quite an exciting character arc. Between the anniversary and the 58% critic score on Rotten Tomatoes, I figured there was no better time than now to check it out.
The first thing that stood out to me in the movie was the cinematography. Something about the grimy, late ‘90s aesthetic of pre-MCU Marvel films is very endearing to me. I’m a big fan of Punisher: War Zone and 2003’s Daredevil (those Evanescence needle drops are perfect) and the look of Blade was no exception. It has such a distinct personality that adds so much energy to the movie. This is especially relevant during the opening sequence, which features one of the best-looking club settings in recent memory. Combined with the nu metal-adjacent score, the urban setting and the R-rating, the film is a time capsule in itself. I specifically wish more vampire movies were set in big cities like this because there’s a lot of opportunity to build on the mythos.
Aside from the general aesthetic of the movie, the lead performance from Wesley Snipes is great. It’s not groundbreaking or revelatory, but he has fun with the role and really makes it his own. It’s nice to see well-rounded comic book characters on the big screen that aren’t exclusively made to sell toys. I hope that when the MCU reboot of the character eventually hits theaters, the actor succeeding Snipes brings some of the humor and personality of the original iteration.
Despite these positives, the film suffers from a bloated runtime and a weak script that over-explains its lore. I thought the rest of the film would be just as fast-paced and crazy as the opening sequence, but after the club scene it slowed down considerably. I found myself checking the runtime quite a bit throughout as the film suffers from exposition dumping here specifically. I understand they had to build a world and create a distinct take on vampires, but it seems like the writers thought the audience was dumber than they actually are. Other takes on vampires like True Blood display a lot of exposition visually and only have characters explain the mythos when necessary. On the contrary, I found Blade to suffer tremendously from lots of telling instead of showing. In general, it really bogs down the film as a whole and takes the audience out of it quite a bit.
In the end, Blade is a better-than-bad vampire flick that’ll scratch an itch for audiences until the MCU film comes out. Coming from a time that was far less worried about brand synergy and toy sales, Blade is a bold take on the vampire mythos, even if it comes off as goofy and slow at times.
Nadia Arain is a Junior Screen Cultures major whose recent Letterboxd reviews include Blade, Twilight, My Babysitter the Vampire and Hotel Transylvania. They can be reached at [email protected]