Written by Dan Bradley
The formula for sequels to highly successful films has been practiced by filmmakers for decades and continues to flourish today. It’s quite simple: take what audiences loved in the original, add more of it and throw in a twist. Guillermo del Toro’s Blade 2 follows this rule of thumb and creates a film that is bigger, badder, louder and more entertaining than its predecessor. It should come as no surprise that the DVD edition of Blade 2 surpasses the original Blade’s disc in every imaginable way as well.
It…s been two years since we last left Blade, mourning the loss of Whistler from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. During that time Blade has traveled throughout Russia and Europe in search of him, as he suspects Whistler has become a vampire and must be killed in an effort to end his misery. This journey ends in Prague, where Whistler is saved and a new threat emerges.
A new type of mutated vampire, which feeds on other vampires, threatens the future of the Vampire Nation and ultimately their place upon the top of the food chain. The vampires seek out Blade to assist in exterminating this new breed, and ultimately Blade finds himself fighting alongside a group of his enemies who were trained to kill him. Included in this group is the beautiful Nyssa, who manages to be the only character beyond Whistler to touch Blade emotionally. At this point the film kicks into high gear and doesn’t let up until the closing act.
Guillermo del Toro’s work is evident throughout the film as the Blade franchise has been taken to darker and more realistic places than it has seen before. The locations and sets in Prague are a perfect rendition for the world of Blade. The Reapers are a magnificent combination of traditional makeup and CGI effects that are absolutely believeable on-screen. Conversely, some of the fighting sequences feel out of place when CGI actors are used for insane jumps and spins. When all is said and done, the film delivers and resurrects Blade as the ultimate bad-ass vampire hunter.
Blade 2 boasts both DTS ES 6.1 and Dolby Digital EX 6.1 soundtracks. I expected to be thoroughly rocked by this DVD and was pleasantly surprised before the movie even began. The menus on both discs are presented in 5.1 surround and give an early indication of whats to come. For the first time ever watching a DVD, I felt as if I could close my eyes and feel completely immersed in the world being presented on the screen.
Blade’s soundtrack was designed for surround effects and they come through like no DVD before it. Sounds swirl and pan around the complete soundstage consistently from the introduction to the final fight. On more than one occasion, the rear surrounds are bombarded with more material than the mains.
A characteristic of the first Blade film that has been carried to its sequel is the techno-driven music soundtrack. The bass from these musical cues shook my subwoofer with every blast of LFE. For the most part this worked perfectly, especially in the House of Pain sequence, but there were times when I would have preferred something more dramatic and less urban.
As one might expect, the majority of this film is shot during the night or in dark locations. Because of this it was difficult to properly rate the transfer as I couldn’t tell if subjects were hard to see because of the natural setting or the disc itself. Where the 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer shines is in the explosion of the vampires, which litter the screen with glowing particles as they discintegrate.
The first disc includes two full length commentary tracks from the writers and director, as well as an isolated music score. The second disc has been reserved for extras only and is broken into three areas: Production Workshop, Deleted Scenes and Promo Material.
The Production Workshop includes a wide range of material which open up access to the making of the film. First up is a featurette on the Blood Pack, following by a sequence breakdown of several key scenes, a look into the visual effects, notebooks and finally an art stills gallery.
The Deleted and Cut Scenes run about 25 minutes and include mostly extended versions of existing scenes. Del Toro’s commentary to the scenes can be humorous as he isn’t afraid to say whats on his mind. The last trimmed scene is especially funny as it involves sperm and a pane of glass.
Rounding out the extras are the Promo Material, which contain an interactive press kit, trailers, a Cypress Hill music video and finally an advertisement for the Blade 2 video game.
Unless you have a stigma about vampires or violence and gore, this DVD absolutely belongs on your shelf. The film is fast and full of action which hits you head on with its enveloping soundtrack. When you’ve exhausted the movie, there are hours of supplemental material to comb through. New Line has released a worthy DVD set for this film on the first try.
Special Features List
- Two Audio Commentaries
- Production Workshop
- Deleted Scenes
- Promo Material
- Music Video
- Featurette on the Blood Pack
- Look into the visual effects
- Art stills gallery