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Once Bitten, Thrice Shy.

While it was pretty clear going in that the Blade trilogy had already peaked in the first five minutes of the first film, when Wesley Snipes busts up Traci Lords’ vampire rave to New Order’s infectious Pump Panel remix of “Confusion,” I still had high hopes that Blade: Trinity would live up to the “quality popcorn flick” standard of the first two. Alas, the Daywalker’s third installment is a bit of a mess. It’s got a few reasonably numbing wire-fu action sequences, sure, but it’s missing that certain je-ne-sais-quoi that made the first two outings such fun. The result is…well, kinda flat.

Surprisingly, given that this is the third Blade written by first-time director David Goyer (who’s also scribed next summer’s Batman Begins), the biggest problem here is the writing. For one, there’s holes in the plot you could drive a Batmobile through. (If the vampires can capture Blade so easily, what’d they need Dracula for? How did Drake know when the good guys would hit the psychiatrists’ office?) Moreover, entire setpieces are lifted straight out of other, better films. (For example, the aforementioned psychiatrist, stolen right out of The Terminator, or the bloodbank and (ugh) baby scenes, both jacked from the original Blade.) And worst of all is the dialogue. Ryan Reynold’s character, Hannibal King, not only has to spit out a slew of stale-on-arrival wisecracks in every scene, he also appears to have learned English from reading AICN talkbacks.

In fact, that may be the most annoying thing about Blade: Trinity — Like no movie since Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back, it appears conceived, written, and marketed to appeal solely to Harry Knowles’ disgruntled army of foul-mouthed, oversexed, ADD-afflicted teenagers, right down to the Patton Oswalt cameo and the gratuitous Jessica Biel shower scene. For what it’s worth, though, Biel and Reynolds are troopers about it all, while Blade himself just seems bored at this point. (By the way, I’m a happy member of iPod Nation, but Biel’s iPodatry here was, frankly, embarrassing.) Casting Parker Posey as evil vamp Danica Talos probably seemed like a good idea (and a nod to the NYC uberyuppie milieu of Stephen “Deacon Frost” Dorff in the first film)…but she’s got nothing to work with, except some terrible repartee with Reynolds. And I don’t know what it is about Vampire Big Bads, but the guy who plays Eurotrash Dracula has got to be the worst actor I’ve seen in a major movie since Shane Brolly in Underworld. As the Seattle Post-Intelligencer put it (birddogged by my bro), he had “all the dark charisma and burning threat of a baked potato.” In sum, Blades 1 & 2 are both surprisingly enjoyable, but this time they miffed it.

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