Blade: Trinity

Crimes:

  • Wasting the goodwill earned by the previous two Blade films on a muddled, poorly shot, tediously scripted mess
  • Taking nearly two hours to never get to a point
  • Using Dracula, the biggest vampire cliché in a genre full of really big clichés, as the main villain, and giving him lines like “Blade, ready to die?”
  • Replacing You’ve Got Mail as the low point in Parker Posey’s cinematic career

Defenders: Writer-director David S. Goyer, actors Ryan Reynolds and Jessica Biel

Tone of commentary: Enthusiastically obtuse. Goyer repeatedly talks about how filming Blade: Trinity was “the most fun I ever had on a movie,” and Biel and Reynolds express similar sentiments. Both actors underwent a lot of training in preparation for their roles as vampire killers. Biel: “It was hardcore. We were in the gym two, two and a half hours every day.” Goyer adds, “I remember seeing you guys constantly nibble on chicken breasts and energy bars.” It paid off, too. Biel brags, in a line sure to give stunt coordinators everywhere pause, “We barely used [stunt doubles] at all.”

Goyer and Reynolds talk about how Goyer encouraged improvisation on the set. Reynolds: “As a writer-director, I was hugely surprised you were open to that.” And Goyer describes how “With each actor, you have to figure out a different language, because every actor’s different, every actor has a process.” With Parker Posey, he’d shout out imaginary Spice Girls names (“Reticence Spice! Ambiguous Spice!”) to guide her without direct “adjustment.” 

In general, Goyer liked to “get two or three good takes as scripted, and then just go off-book and improvise.” Biel is a fan of the technique: “It’s fun. It’s spontaneous. It’s a real reaction to something… that you’ve never said before, that you’ve never thought before.” Goyer reveals that he had a habit of starting and stopping filming without letting the actors know what was going on. “You also never know when you’re gonna find a gem.” This doesn’t explain why in the film, Reynolds comes off as a jackass who can’t stop talking, Biel is droningly earnest, and Wesley Snipes (as the titular character) looks half a take away from murdering everyone on set.

What went wrong: Reynolds obsessed over one line late in the film: “I called David one night like in the middle of the night, I was fully Monday-morning quarterbacking, and I was like, ‘David, I gotta re-shoot that one little chunk.’” The original take appears in the final cut. Goyer complains about a shot of Snipes landing on a car as being “uninteresting,” and his obsession over tiny details, like convincing New Line to spend money on a background clip of an obscure Esperanto-language film (the William Shatner vehicle Incubus), may have led to some forest-for-the-trees vision problems. Goyer also insisted on including an entirely extraneous scene of a human blood farm, just because he hadn’t been able to include it in the previous two films. 

But the real elephant in the production was star Wesley Snipes. Goyer and the others take great pains to avoid criticizing him directly, and Goyer praises Snipes’ performance (he’s especially fond of a jail scene where a drugged Snipes growls and blinks his way through a seemingly endless series of interrogations) and his commitment to the fight sequences. But given the film’s troubled production history—Snipes sued New Line Cinema and Goyer in 2005 for financial and artistic reasons—it’s hard not to read between the lines. In one shot, Goyer says, Snipes was scripted to be meditating, but he “wanted to be hanging upside down like a bat. We filmed it. I think it’s on the outtakes; it looks absolutely ridiculous.” In general, Snipes just didn’t seem to get along with people. Goyer, when talking about a combative conversation on screen, says, “There was a lot of tension between the characters… and that spilled over a little bit onto the set.”

Comments on the cast: Apart from the ambiguity about Snipes, everybody loves everybody. Reynolds was delighted to have Posey (who sneers her way through her role as lead vampire Danica Talos) on set: “I loved working with Parker. She’s out of her skull, and I loved that… It’s like getting to dance with the greatest dancer of all time.” Goyer found a place in the film for character actors James Remar and John Michael Higgins, in small roles that still give both performers a chance to embarrass themselves. And everybody loves Patton Oswalt, who plays a socially challenged tech geek. Goyer says, “If I could adopt Patton Oswalt, I would adopt Patton Oswalt.” 

All three are supportive of each other’s work. Reynolds tells Biel: “The crew was just blown away by your physical ability, Jess.”

Inevitable dash of pretension: Goyer considers Trinity to be the capstone of the Blade franchise, and talks about trying to work in arcs related to the earlier films. During a scene where Snipes basically tells Biel “Chin up!” after she finds all her friends dead, Goyer explains, “Blade has moved on in terms of psychology, he’s at a different place in his journey, but Abigail is sort of where Blade was in the first film… We’ve come sort of full circle.” He had high ambitions for Trinity’s themes as well: “One of the things I wanted to do with this movie was have it set in the real world, have the war spill over into the civilian world.” (If anybody can find examples of the real world in this movie, please let us know.)

Goyer references the movies that inspired him. During a scene where Posey repeatedly slaps Reynolds, Goyer explains, “I got this idea from that moment in Chinatown where Faye Dunaway is slapping her niece. Right? Isn’t it Faye Dunaway slapping her niece, saying ‘She’s my mother, she’s my sister. She’s my sister and my mother’? I love that.” (The scene Goyer describes is actually Jack Nicholson slapping Dunaway, who says, “She’s my sister! She’s my daughter!”) 

Commentary in a nutshell: Goyer: “The other thing that happened in this scene is that Blade opened his eyes, and on the day, Wesley did not open his eyes.”

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