Blade Review: the Superhero Movie that Started it All

Blade (1998) Review

Hollywood is enjoying the box office success of superhero movies -headlined heavily by Marvel and DC based titles. But the road to having a good superhero movie is paved with a lot of lesser known films. Technically speaking, Blade is the very first modern superhero movie, making it a great film to study for those interested in the new trend. Of course, if you are a fan of the comics, then watching this movie also a must -because Blade is the first film that heavily influenced the comic book it was based on.

Meet the Daywalker

Eric “Blade” Brooks is a vampire hunter, and audiences get to know that pretty quick when Blade is first seen in the film obliterating a clubful of vampires. The fight scene is an action packed gory mess that sets the pace and tone not only for the rest of the film, but also for the sequels in the trilogy. Blade is quickly established as a cold hearted badass whose sole drive is to wipe out the vampires, and he does it with brutally stylish efficiency. But he is more than just a guy who hunts vampires. Blade is a hybrid -part human, part vampire. This gives him access to many of the vampire's powerful abilities, like speed and strength. But he is also immune to sunlight, and most vampire weaknesses do not work on him. The only problem that he has is the need to feed on blood -something he counteracts by using a chemical mix.

Despite having a rich comic book world to draw its mythos from, the expositional scenes move along at a pretty good pace. This orients the audiences about the uneasy balance between the more conservative and ancient vampire council as well as the brashness of the ambitious Deacon Frost. Not surprisingly, since Frost is the big bad who wants rule over humans while the other old vampires simply do not want do any unnecessary acts that would bring about conflict with humans, Frost manages to get on top (because if he didn't this movie would be without a central villain). His obsession with power also makes him target Blade, as Frost knows that obtaining the ability to day-walk would make him all the more powerful.

This Film Nailed It

Blade (1998) Review

Director Stephen Norrington is not all that well known (his list of films is not that many either), but his work in Blade is exceptionally good. The man has an innate sense for framing and many scenes on Blade would not look out of place as a dynamic shot for comic. There are even plenty of sequences that would be amazing as two page spreads. The way the film's point of view changes, shifts, pans, and even chases, brings the user much closer to the action. For a movie based on a comic book, the camera work for Blade is downright superb.

Casting Wesley Snipes as Blade is perfect, while Denzel Washington and Lawrence Fishburne were also considered for the role (at one point, so was rapper LL Cool J). But Snipes brings this degree of aloofness that is unique to the film version of Blade, and this makes his take on the character so iconic and memorable that it managed to be even better than the original one in the comics.

Evolving the Source Material

Comic book Blade started out as a side character who eventually got more interesting stories to get involved with (most prominently, before he had his own print, Blade got to hang out with the different Ghost Riders in Midnight Sons). While Blade has his own series by the time this film was made, it was Snipe's version that people started looking for in the comics. The concept of a Blade being a daywalker was added to the comics thanks to the film -they explained this by having vampire anti-hero Morbius bite Blade.

Overall, Blade is an amazingly fun movie to watch. The action sequences are top notch, the hero is someone that really feels like a great fit for the lead role, and the way that everything is pretty much resolved at the end gives the audience a satisfying level of closure.