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Site created 12/15/97.


review added: 7/24/02



Blade II
Platinum Series - 2002 (2002) - New Line

review by Bill Hunt of The Digital Bits

Enhanced for 16x9 TVsEncoded with DTS & Dolby Digital 5.1 Digital Surround

Blade II: Platinum Series Film Rating: B-

Disc Ratings (Video/Extras): A-/A

Audio Ratings (DD/DTS): A-/A

Specs and Features

Disc One: The Film
117 mins, R, letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1), 16x9 enhanced, dual-disc Amaray keep case packaging, single-sided, RSDL dual-layered (layer switch at ??), audio commentary (with director Guillermo del Toro and producer Peter Frankfurt), audio commentary (with screenwriter David Goyer and star Wesley Snipes), isolated score (DD 5.1), animated film-themed menu screens with sound and music, scene access (24 chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1 EX, DTS 6.1 ES & DD 2.0 Surround), subtitles: English, Closed Captioned

Disc Two: Special Edition Content
Single-sided, dual-layered, The Blood Pact interactive documentary (83 mins) with additional branching material, 3 visual effects featurettes - Synthetic Stuntmen (6 mins), The Digital Maw (3 mins) and Progress Reports (53 mins), 6 sequence breakdowns - Blood Bank, Ninja Fight, Reapers in the House of Pain, Chapel Fight and Caliban (with original script, shooting script, storyboards/FX breakdowns, final scene and "on set" production footage), director's notebook gallery (with video introduction by Del Toro), script supervisor's notebook gallery, unfilmed script page gallery (for 3 scenes), production art gallery (includes sequence concepts, props and weapons, costume design, set design, character designs and storyboards), 16 deleted or alternate scenes (16x9, DD 5.1, with video introduction by Del Toro and optional audio commentary by Del Toro and producer Peter Frankfurt), Blade II Video Game Survival Guide featurette (3 mins), theatrical press kit (with cast & crew bios and production notes), teaser trailer and theatrical trailer (16x9), Cypress Hill and Roni Size Child of the Wild West music video (DD 2.0), DVD credits, DVD-ROM features (including screenplay viewer and original website), animated film-themed menu screens with sound and music


Fans of the original Blade already know the basic backstory here, but for the uninitiated, Wesley Snipes plays the title character, a human whose mother was bitten by a vampire while he was in the womb, which has imbued him with the best qualities of both species. He has superior strength and reflexes, as well as a more controllable thirst for blood. He can also tolerate sunlight, leading true vampires to call him The Daywalker. Blade hates vampires, and he's made it his mission in life to destroy them. Conversely, the vampires hate Blade and do their best to kill him.

But things have changed since Blade busted ass in the original film. It seems that an ancient race of creatures have arisen that prey not on humans, but on the vampires themselves. So bad are these creatures that the vampires seek a truce with Blade... and his help in defeating them. Cool concept, right?

And it is... except Blade II takes that nifty setup and uses it simply as an excuse to indulge in numerous, gratuitous gun battles and seemingly endless wire-fu sword fights. Director Guillermo del Toro (Mimic, Devil's Backbone) succeeds in making all the fights stylishly interesting, and he does manage to infuse this sequel with a darker, moodier, more suspenseful atmosphere. But it's a little too "first person shooter" influenced - somewhere between the calamari-faced villains and the blood-splattered flesh explosions... well, let's just say overkill isn't a word in Del Toro's cinematic vocabulary. I like my vampire actions flicks with as much plot as wire fu and maybe just a little more restraint. Still, Snipes gets to stretch his performance a bit more, and some of the supporting cast (which include Kris Kristofferson and Ron Perlman) turn in entertaining moments. All in all, this is a decent (but not great) actioner... if you're not of particularly squeamish constitution.

One thing you can definitely say about New Line's recent DVDs, is that they generally always deliver top-notch video and audio quality. Such is the case with Blade II. The film is presented in anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1), with a transfer that really shines. Contrast is tremendous, with deep, true blacks that retain plenty of detail at all times. The color palette here is quite vibrant, and is accurate to the original theatrical presentation. Grain is evident, as it should be, but it's light - the film source material is beautifully clean and free of physical artifacts. It's a little bit soft on occasion, particularly when there's a lot of reddish light in a given scene, but overall this is a very nice transfer indeed.

The audio is also excellent, presented in both Dolby Digital 5.1 EX and DTS 6.1 ES flavors. Whichever track you choose, you'll discover a nicely wide soundstage, with tremendous ambience, very active rear channels and strong LFE. I was very hard pressed to notice a difference in quality between the Dolby Digital and DTS. If anything, the Dolby mix is a little more aggressive, while the DTS sounds somewhat smoother, with the discrete center back channels filling in the sound space a little more naturally. I'll give the slight edge to the DTS, but it's close. A Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround track is also available.

Produced by David Prior (Fight Club, Pearl Harbor: Vista Series), Blade II offers a very nice and well balanced extras package. To start with, Disc One features dual audio commentary tracks, the first with director Guillermo del Toro and producer Peter Frankfurt and the second with screenwriter David Goyer and star Wesley Snipes. Both tracks are entertaining, reasonably lively and worth checking out. With his thick accent and self-deprecating manner, Del Toro is just engaging and fun to listen to. You can tell that he's very passionate about this work and that he's done a lot of legwork. My favorite of the two tracks, however, is Snipes and Goyer. It's more easy-going, and these guys have a great rapport. There's some very good stuff here - lots funny anecdotes, personal observations and insights on the story, characters and production. Also included on Disc One is the film's isolated score, presented in full Dolby Digital 5.1. Very nice.

Heck, there's still a whole other disc to talk about. Disc Two starts with the Production Workshop section. It's first major feature is a solid production documentary, The Blood Pact, that offers a nice little twist. The piece itself runs some 83 minutes, but features an additional 15 minutes of material that's available via a "Follow the White Rabbit" style branching system. You can play the whole thing in context, select sections by index or view the branching material by index as well. As an aside here, I've come to realize that the secret of the most successful DVD producers, is that they know how to lay out the supplemental material so you can access it easily, logically and in multiple contexts. That's even more appreciated on this disc, when you get into the Sequence Breakdowns. Six scenes from the film are presented here in a way that lets you explore the entire production process. You can view the relevant pages from the original script and compare that to the same scene in the final shooting script. Then you can view storyboards and FX breakdowns for the scene, view on-set video shot during the production of the scene, and then view the final scene in the film. It's very easy to access and is nicely comprehensive. Also in this section, you can view short featurettes on the "synthetic stuntmen" and other CGI innovations in this film, as well as some 53 minutes of Progress Reports shot on video by special makeup designer Steve Johnson to keep the director appraised of the design work (and again, it's all indexed for quick access). Production Workshop also feature still gallery style looks at the director's production notebook (with a video introduction by the director) as well as the script supervisor's notebook and the relevant script pages for three scenes that were never filmed. Finally, you've got an extensive gallery of production design photos and artwork, broken down by subject (including more original storyboards for the film).

The second major section of Disc Two features some sixteen deleted scenes (all presented in anamorphic widescreen video and Dolby Digital 5.1 audio), which run more than 24 minutes collectively. The scenes can be played together, or you can watch them individually. Conversely, you can choose to listen to the final audio mix or audio commentary with the director and producer. And Del Toro introduces the section with a funny video introduction: "I want to apologize because what you will see is mostly crap..."

The final section on this disc is called Production Material, and includes a "survival guide" to the Blade II video game (worthless to me but I suppose it's cool to have it here), the theatrical press kit (basically production notes and cast/crew bios), the theatrical trailer and teaser trailer for the film (both in 16x9 & 5.1) and the Child of the Wild West music video by Cypress Hill and Roni Size (windowboxed with 2.0 audio). And slipping this disc into your DVD-ROM will allow you to access the Interactual "script-to-screen" feature (the only ROM extra I've ever really cared about) and the film's original website.

Blade II isn't going to be everyone's cup of tea, and I suspect the audience here is overwhelmingly male and under 30 (Snipes' female fan legions aside). But if blood-soaked, vampire-fanged, wire-fu action is you bag, this film delivers in just about every way you'd possibly want it to. And like the film or not, this is a helluva nice DVD package... exactly what we've come to expect from New Line's Platinum Series.

Bill Hunt
billhunt@thedigitalbits.com




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