It is rare that Hollywood produces anything innovative in the action-monster genre. I generally think that nothing really outstanding has been made since Cameron scared the bajeezus out of me in Aliens
. The 1986 film horrified us, sporting the incredible Geiger Alien and clever action, with a subtext of the hopless conflict of Vietnam. While Guillermo del Toro isn't able to create as much thoughtful symbolism as Cameron, he did make the most entertaining monster movie since. A screening of Blade 2
is mass at the church of the grotesque. As Christoph would say, it is a subversive masterpiece and the best 2002 film I have seen yet.
The film's monsters are a strangely disturbing yet wonderously conceived beast with a lower jaw that opens to show a hidden mouth. They are, of course, nearly indestructable. What is interesting is how well the film demonstrates this fact. The movie's action pieces center around what has become a standard as of late, hyper-kinetic martial arts action aided by computer graphic effects. What sets this film apart is how it uses this action to so deftly mutilate the "reapers" as they are called, only for them to defy death in most hilarious fashion. They will have their heads split open by giant swords, their brains spilling out on the pavement, yet the eye on the severed part of the skull will be looking around, laughing in the face of death. The action sequences become a dance in honor of gore, every move being punctuated with the sound of breaking bones and ripping flesh. It is all quite a spectacle, and it is so slyly done that you can't help but laugh at how disgusting it is.
The special effects truly aid in describing the story, a rare case in big budget effects films which so often have stories built to move on to the next bit of computer graphics. The death of a main character at the end is a truly touching event, as the effects lend a sense of redemption and sorrow when they previously have been so malevolent. The film never takes it self too seriously though, often meaning for you to laugh at how far over the edge they have taken you. It is a hard note to hit, but the tone del Toro molded is just right.
I hesitate to call Blade 2
a Cadillac, but it is damn close. At any rate, I highly recommend it.