BLADE: HOUSE OF CHTHON: UNRATED.
When I first heard that New Line and Spike TV were planning a BLADE television series, I honestly wasn’t sure what to think. Sure, I enjoyed all 3 BLADE features, but didn’t the story essentially close itself out by the end of the 3rd movie? Was there more to tell? Could someone replace Wesley Snipes who simply owned that role? The idea of an on-going series became more interesting once it was announced that BLADE screenwriter (and Director on BLADE: TRINITY) David Goyer was penning the pilot, along side comic book writer Geoff Johns. I didn’t even realize the show aired until I received this DVD for review, the unrated PILOT extending into a full-length feature.
So, how was it? It’s good! Not great – frankly nothing can top Guillermo Del Toro’s BLADE 2 in my humble opinion, but the series pilot is really, really good. Better then I honestly expected it to be. It’s interesting how this could fit into the BLADE universe. Technically it could be a sequel to the first film. Or it could take place after the events of the 3rd. I like to look at this as taking place after the trilogy. The pilot centers around Krista Starr (played by Jill Wagner), a recent war-vet who’s looking for answers revolving her brother’s suspicious recent death. Along the way she stumbles upon Marcus, a public figure and also the leader of an elite group of vampires on a quest for a cure to their weaknesses. Marcus conducts experiments on other low-level vampires. Also in the picture (naturally) is Blade, who is hunting for Marcus and his crew with his trustworthy side-kick/weapons designer Shen. Once Krista becomes infected, Blade uses a serum to help her hold the thirst at bay, and offers her to be a double agent in his mission to take out the vampires of the House of Chthon. This essentially is the jumping point for the entire series, so although this easily plays as a theatrical film, it leaves open a ton of questions and ideas which I assume were meant to be developed as the series continued.
The pros: I’m surprised by this take on the Blade universe. It’s different but not totally alien to what we know from the films. Kudos to writers Goyer and Johns, both of whom obviously know and love the material. The vampires are also not necessarily the run-of-the-mill “bad vampires”. In fact, in one scene, Marcus gives a speech to Krista after first turning her explaining how now she’s truly alive & can appreciate the beauty of the world, which is quite touching and well spoken. Speaking of, Jill Wagner’s probably my favorite member of the cast. Beautiful, tough and torn between different devotions, never quite knowing which side she should be on. Nice set up for her character for this season, and nicely acted. Also of note, a nice uncredited cameo role from Randy Quaid who plays Melvin Caylo, one-time friend of Blade’s mentor Whistler and the man who explains Blade’s backstory to Krista. (And any viewers not familiar with the films.) The action is well orchestrated, and there are some nice gory bits here, I’m sure mostly added in for this “uncut” DVD edition. Kurt “Sticky Fingaz” Jones does a suitable enough job. Speaking into Wesley Snipes shoes is no easy task, but he does an ok enough job, and brings his own take to the character by going more with a street-fighting style rather then martial arts. Overall, the pilot’s pretty decent. It’s not without its slight flaws. But I’m sure if you’re a fan of the movies, you’ll dig this.
Special Features: There is a great 7 part documentary titled “Turning Blade” that extensively covers the production of the show. It includes chats with the writers explaining their intentions with the Blade character, as well as several cast interviews and more. In different segments, they cover Blade’s weapons, looks and even coat design. It’s a worthwhile doc and far better then the average 2-3 minute featurette that’s usually attached to TV pilot DVD’s. Also included are two feature length commentary tracks. One with director Peter O’Fallon and the other with writers David Goyer and Geoff Johns. –Robg.
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