Buffy The Vampire Slayer managed a seventh season, but the sixth year felt like the end: The Scooby Gang, having thwarted every "Big Bad" belched out by the Hellmouth, faced an existential crisis. Having a moral, even mythical, duty to keep fighting monsters in Sunnydale, they were resigned to the grueling fate of spinning their wheels indefinitely, and their inner demons begin to prove more frightening than the outer ones. Once season seven came along, there was nowhere for the characters to go, so the writers fell back on an "ultimate evil" grand finale that was doomed to be anticlimactic.
Nurtured along by series screenwriter David S. Goyer, who steps in as director for the third entry, the Blade series reaches the similar final-season crisis point in Blade: Trinity, but it doesn't have the bright wit and lovable characters to fall back on. Having pitted his stoic slayer against a pack of "super vampires" in Guillermo del Toro's stylish, propulsive Blade 2, Goyer unearths the first, "original" vampire for his new gothic bloodbath, but the battle of immortals seems like something lifted from the execrable Highlander series. And with his black leather Matrix gear, trademark shades, and mirthless growl, Wesley Snipes' stone-faced "daywalker" isn't getting any easier to love.
Perhaps recognizing the charisma gap, Goyer provides a fresh infusion of second-rate talent in the Night Stalkers, a high-tech rogue unit of vampire hunters led by reformed vamp Ryan Reynolds and Jessica Biel, the bare-midriffed daughter of Snipes' grizzled sidekick Kris Kristofferson. Bitchy and imperious as ever, Parker Posey plays a powerful vampire who schemes to take over the world, first by framing Snipes as a serial killer, then by unleashing the shape-shifting Dracula (Dominic Purcell) from a pyramid in the Syrian desert. Though he prefers to work alone, Snipes teams up with the wisecracking young Night Stalkers, who offer him a cozy warehouse shelter, high-tech weaponry, and an experimental virus that could wipe out the vampires for good.
Swimming in computer-enhanced mayhem and a non-stop hip-hop-and-techno soundtrack, Blade: Trinity might as well come equipped with joysticks attached to the seats, so everyone can play along. The late discovery of a "blood farm," where rows of humans are vacuum-sealed and sapped en masse, introduces a chilling new wrinkle into the story, but Goyer treats this vampiric Final Solution as just a grisly, tasteless footnote. Were it not for Spider-Man 2, X2, and The Incredibles, the premise of a superhero greeted by a hostile public might have carried some novelty, but Blade: Trinity does nothing more ambitious than continue a sputtering franchise. It's now up to audiences to determine whether the series will get renewed for another season.