Remember when wesley Snipes was an exciting actor? As the drug-czar villain of New Jack City, he was ferocious and hopped-up–he gave every scene a demonic jolt of energy–but shortly after that, he began to do action roles and lost his spark. In Blade, Snipes portrays a vampire-slaying superhero who’s only half human, but it’s Snipes himself who seems a bit of a zombie. He certainly looks good, with his sci-fi fade and complicated leather suit, but he also sports the same stoic snarl in every scene. He’s Superman as an empty shell, a joyless basher of evil.
Blade is the sort of glittering trash pile that makes you dread the words comic-book movie. I enjoyed the opening disco massacre, with blood spurting out of ceiling sprinklers, and there’s a nifty computer-generated effect in which silvery gun blasts shatter the vampires into fragments. Still, the film offers nothing to look at but special effects. Unlike last summer’s Spawn, which at least whirled through its tormented-crime-fighter clichés with psychedelic energy, Blade moves at the funereal pace of an art film. The director, Stephen Norrington, seems to have exactly two modes: brooding gothic pretension and martial-arts frenzy. As the lead vampire, a kind of bloodsucking club kid who wants to take over the world, Stephen Dorff, with his catlike suavity, brings style and attitude to even a nothing role. Apart from his glam malevolence, though, Blade couldn’t be duller.