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MOVIE INFO
Director:
Stephen Norrington
Cast:
Wesley Snipes, Stephen Dorff, Kris Kristofferson, N'Bushe Wright, Donal Logue
Screenplay:
David S. Goyer

Synopsis:
A half-vampire, half-mortal man becomes a protector of the mortal race, while slaying evil vampires.
Box Office:
Budget:
$45 million.
Opening Weekend:
17,073,856 on 2322 Screens.
Domestic Gross:
70,001,065.
MPAA:
Rated R.

DISC DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1/16x9
Audio:
English Dolby 5.1
English Dolby 2.0
Subtitles:
English
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
None

Runtime: 120 min.
Price: $9.98
Release Date: 12/22/1998

Bonus:
• Commentary by Writer David S. Goyer, Actors Wesley Snipes and Stephen Dorff, Cinematographer Theo Van de Sande, Production Designer Kirk M. Petruccelli, and Producer Peter Frankfurt
• Isolated Score With Commentary by Composer Mark Isham
• Alternate Ending
• “Designing Blade" Featurette
• "The Origins of Blade" Featurette
• "The Blood Tide" Featurette
• "House of Erebus" Text
• “Pencil to Post” Featurette
• Cast and Crew
• Trailer


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EQUIPMENT
Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Blade (1998)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (May 30, 2017)

In a way, Blade suffered from “Raiders of the Lost Ark Syndrome”. Like that classic, Blade started out with a fantastic opening sequence, as following a brief prologue, we encounter the premise and main characters through a dizzying fight scene that takes place in a meatpacking plant transformed into a makeshift disco.

When I saw the movie theatrically in 1998, I found that opening bit to be absolutely dazzling, as it presented one of the most exciting and visceral action scenes I'd ever viewed. Unfortunately, the rest of the movie couldn't keep pace. While it was interesting and enjoyable, I'd been taken to such heights by that first sequence that the rest of the film seemed like a disappointment.

Despite some misgivings about the flick, I decided to give it another shot on DVD. Now that I've seen the film a few times, I must amend my earlier impression. While the opening scene still stuns, most of the rest of the movie delivers the goods as well.

Known as the “Daywalker”, half-human/half-vampire Blade (Wesley Snipes) works to eradicate full-fledged vampires. His situation comes with special blood-related needs, though, and he recruits hematologist Dr. Karen Jenson (N'Bushe Wright) – the recent victim of a vamp bite – to help his cause.

In the midst of all this, a rebellious young vampire named Deacon Frost (Stephen Dorff) works to lead his kind. He wants to violate the long-lasting human/vampire détente and rule the world, a quest that Blade attempts to stop.

The first half of Blade provides some of the highest quality, most compelling action I've seen in a long time. I was wrong to think that just the opening packed a hard punch, as really, the whole first hour takes the viewer on a terrific thrill-ride.

The story sags a bit during the second half, though. Basically, Blade spends most of the initial hour kicking butt - we occasionally pick up some plot points, but the first half really dedicates itself to learning that Blade's a bad mutha.

During the last hour of the film, the plot really takes over, and most of that time works toward the climactic fight. It's kind of an odd mix.

Most films set up the story during the first half and worry more about action during the second. While Blade provides rudimentary expository material at the start, the plot doesn't really take hold until the second part.

I don't necessarily think that this is a bad thing. The alternative seems to have been a film with no plot at all, and I think it's good that they at least tried to provide a story more compelling than just random vampire hunting.

The problem stems from the fact that after we've spent an hour with wall-to-wall action, it's hard to come down off of that sugar high. This means that the film sort of plods towards its ending, which nonetheless works very well.

When Blade goes on his "final attack" during the final 15 minutes, those scenes seem as good as almost any during the opening hour, and they help compensate for the less-scintillating nature of the previous 45 minutes.

Overall, I enjoyed Blade more the second - and third - time around and it seems to be a film that should hold up well to even more re-viewings. Director Stephen Norrington creates a terrific comic book atmosphere. Few can capture that tone, but he makes Blade a thrill ride that succeeds well as a whole.


The Disc Grades: Picture B- / Audio B+ / Bonus B+

Blade appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. The transfer held up pretty well over the years.

Sharpness became one of the iffier elements, though it still seemed mostly satisfactory. The red opening credits looked awfully fuzzy, and wider shots tended toward moderate softness.

Those concerns didn’t become major, though, so most of the movie displayed fairly nice clarity given the limitations of SD-DVD. I saw no issues with jaggies or shimmering, and print flaws remained absent. Some light edge haloes crept into the image, though.

Other than those red credits, colors worked fine. The movie went with a chilly blue palette most of the time, and the hues seemed acceptable to good.

Blacks were fairly dark, and low-light shots offered reasonable clarity. Nothing here made me forget I was watching a DVD, but given the disc’s age, I thought it looked surprisingly good.

Blade also featured a pretty strong Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, as the soundfield created an active and engaging piece. The lively score showed excellent stereo presence, while all five channels provided a natural and realistic environment.

Blade used the different speakers well, as elements moved cleanly across channels and blended together effectively. The surrounds included a lot of unique information and played an active role in the mix.

Audio quality seemed fine for the most part. Dialogue appeared natural and warm, with no issues related to intelligibility or edginess.

Music sounded bright and vibrant, as the score and songs showed strong fidelity and offered tight and taut bass response. Effects also seemed accurate and dynamic, and low-end sounded deep and rich. Some gunfire showed a little distortion, but otherwise Blade provided a quality soundtrack.

The DVD offers a good array of extras, and we start with an audio commentary from actor and producer Wesley Snipes, actor Stephen Dorff, writer David S. Goyer, director of photography Theo Van De Sande, production designer Kirk M. Petrocelli, and producer Peter Frankfurt. All were recorded separately for this edited track. Many dislike that format, but I think it works well, especially when handled as well as it is here.

The commentary covers a nice mix of topics, from different technical elements to plot points to bringing the comic to the screen to acting concerns. The absence of director Stephen Norrington seems like a negative on paper, but really, I don’t miss him, as the commentary provides a lot of terrific information without him.

The second track offers an isolated score with commentary from composer Mark Isham. Presented in Dolby Surround 2.0 sound, this works well as a commentary, as Isham provides lots of information about his work on Blade, his general thoughts about film scores, and many other topics.

Unfortunately, the piece doesn’t fare as well as an isolated score. Isham often talks over the music, and during empty spaces, we hear dialogue and effects.

This becomes a distraction, especially when the score returns and those elements abruptly cease. As a commentary fan, I’m happy with this track, but isolated score buffs may feel less satisfied.

“La Magra” offers an alternate ending for Blade as well as additional information. During the 14-minute, eight-second piece, we hear from New Line President of Production Michael De Luca, producer Peter Frankfurt, production designer Kirk M. Petrocelli, screenwriter David Goyer.

They discuss the project’s genesis and various story elements that disappeared along the way. This allows us to see some deleted scenes, including that alternate ending. It’s a nice little piece, and it’s fun to see the unused footage, even though the unfinished special effects make the ending seem even sillier than it otherwise would have been.

Next we get Designing Blade. At 22 minutes, 30 seconds, this program offers the longest of the video materials as it discusses different aspects of the visual production. We hear from production designer Kirk M. Petrocelli, makeup effects creator Greg Cannom, stunt coordinator Jeff Ward, and special effects producer Richard “Dr.” Baily as each discusses his specialty.

“Designing” leads us through the movie’s visual design, the practical effects, fight choreography, and computer effects. The nicely low-key program includes a few good shots from the set and offers an informative and entertaining piece.

During Origins of Blade, we find a 12-minute, 10-second “exploration of dark comics”. The program consists solely of comments from screenwriter David Goyer, comics legend Stan Lee, and Wizard Magazine publisher and president Gareb Shamus.

Despite the show’s title, they don’t really discuss how Blade came to be. Instead, we hear about issues related to darker comics. Lee chats about the creation of the Comics Code, and we learn about various trends during this engaging little discussion.

For information about the history of vampires, look no further than The Blood Tide, a solid 20-minute, one-second program. It includes comments from Father Gregory Coiro, UCLA Associate Professor of Medicine Dr. Gary Schiller, author Dr. J. Gordon Melton, author Nina Auerbach, screenwriter David Goyer, filmmaker Brian Clemens, and author Mick Farren.

The show offers a nice primer about the history of the vampire myth. For the record, many vampire historians look exactly the way you'd expect vampire historians to look.

Now we move to a series of stillframe materials. In the House of Erebus, we can learn about 12 vampire houses through text.

Pencil to Post offers a discussion of the stages through which comic book art goes (pencil, ink, color guide, color separation). We also see 17 pieces of art created for the film, as well as interviews with artist Patrick Janicke and with comics legend Stan Lee.

Cast and Crew presents decent biographies for actors Wesley Snipes, Stephen Dorff, Kris Kristofferson, N’Bushe Wright, and Donal Logue plus director Stephen Norrington, writer David S. Goyer, producer Peter Frankfurt, director of photography Theo Van De Sande, production designer Kirk M. Petrocelli, and composer Mark Isham. Lastly, we see the film’s theatrical trailer, presented anamorphic 2.35:1 with Dolby Digital 5.1 sound.

Back in 1998, Blade came out of nowhere and managed to become a modest hit. It deserved its success, as the wild vampire flick offers a lively, vivid comic book adventure. The DVD provides decent picture along with very good audio and some informative supplements. After almost 20 years, Blade remains an exciting tale.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.2941 Stars Number of Votes: 34
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