Having penned the first two entertainingly action-packed Blade films, screenwriter David S. Goyer would have seemed the logical choice to helm the series’s third and supposedly final (yeah, right) installment. Blade: Trinity, however, is proof positive that writing a successful action film and directing one are two entirely different beasts. In his behind-the-camera debut, Goyer flounders around like an indecisive movie buff desperate to indulge in every special effects-laden trick in the Directing 101 handbook while paying no attention to atmosphere, pacing, or visual cohesiveness. If he’s not shooting his fashion model-esque Dracula (Dominic Purcell) in front of cheesy time-lapse photography backgrounds, he’s blandly recycling the image of heroes walking shoulder-to-shoulder toward the camera in slow-motion or of the half-man, half-vampire Blade (Wesley Snipes) offing hordes of faceless combatants in frantically edited martial arts melees. Midway through the film, hunky former vampire Hannibal King (Ryan Reynolds) is seen watching the cult classic Incubus on TV, and it’s an unintentionally apt reference considering that Goyer’s grasp of directorial fundamentals (such as when to tilt the camera and when to shoot in close-up) is about as strong as Shatner’s fluency in Esperanto.
Blade: Trinity saddles the heroic daywalker with two vampire-hunting cubs (Reynolds’s Hannibal and Jessica Biel’s Abigail, the daughter of Kris Kristofferson’s gearhead Whistler) and their presence regularly pushes Blade to the story’s periphery. Yet since Reynolds’s incessantly sarcastic Hannibal is the film’s only entity with a pulse—and given that Snipes’s trademark stoicism seems more like boredom—it’s easy to overlook the fact that these new characters’ inclusion is likely just a test-run for their forthcoming spin-off adventure. Less forgivable is Parker Posey’s vampiress (whose most notable character traits are her abundant eye shadow and stilettos) and Purcell’s Dracula, both of whom encumber the film with a full-throated campiness that diffuses any stabs at suspense. Meanwhile, the director’s shameless plugging of the iPod as the ideal way to enjoy trip-hop while slaying bloodsuckers is just plain embarrassing. That Goyer then decides to pepper this pulpy diversion with a schizophrenic political subtext—Blade refers to the current president with an expletive and uses biological warfare to defeat his undead enemies, while the resting place for Dracula’s centuries-long hibernation is identified (I kid you not) as Iraq—only further solidifies the impression that it’s time to drive a stake into this franchise’s withered heart.