Tag Archives: david s goyer

Dark City – Review

4 May

Getting lost in a really good science fiction story may be on my top 10 list of the best ways to spend my time. I recently had the pleasure to see one of the most surprisingly excellent science fiction films that I have ever seen. That move is Alex Proyas’ 1998 film Dark City. Stephen Hunter of the Washington Post had this to say about the movie, “If you don’t fall in love with it, you’ve probably never fallen in love with a movie, and never will.” I think that’s the best way to summarize how great this movie actually is, and it’s going to be hard to pick out all of the great things while keeping this review a reasonable length.

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When John Murdoch (Rufus Sewell) wakes up in a bath tub with no memory of who he is or what he’s doing there, he becomes worried. When he soon sees that there is a prostitute who’s been brutally murdered in the same hotel room as he is, he becomes terrified. As he wanders the city he finds himself in, which is suffering from a case of perpetual darkness, Murdoch soon learns that he is being chased by a mysterious group of pale men with psychokinetic powers. As the mystery thickens, Murdoch learns he also has a less than faithful wife (Jennifer Connelly) and a psychologist (Kiefer Sutherland) who seems to want to help him, but who is also involved with the group of pale men called the Strangers. Meanwhile, Inspector Bumstead (William Hurt) is in charge of a team that is investigating the mystery surrounding the murdered prostitute, but soon finds himself wrapped up in Murdoch’s own mystery that will completely change the lives of every citizen in the city.

A lot of stuff happens in this movie, and it isn’t easy getting in the important plot information to give a skeletal version of the story without ruining the plethora of surprises that this movie has up its sleeve. That being said, if you’re interested in seeing this movie at all, make sure you pick up or find a copy of the director’s cut, because the studio that was producing this movie demanded Proyas put a voice over in the beginning that was meant to give some background information, but ended up spoiling a lot of the mystery behind what is actually going on. That was, in my opinion, the best part of this movie. In the very beginning when Sewell’s character wakes up, we know just as much as he does which is absolutely nothing. As the film rolls on, I found myself trying harder and harder to figure out what was going on before any of it was revealed.

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With all of that talk of mystery, I have to point out just how well written this movie is. As someone who studies screenwriting with big hopes of doing just that for a living, I found myself thinking that this movie should be shown and studied in classes that have to do with writing. In terms of story, this is one of the best written movies I have ever seen. Alex Proyas along with Lem Dobbs (The LimeyHaywire) and David S. Goyer (Blade IIThe Dark Knight) have crafted an incredible screenplay filled with twists, suspense, and philosophy. Almost every good science fiction story has some sort of lesson or warning, and the one in Dark City asks a very good question: What makes us human? Is it our intelligence, moral code, or something else?

I can’t say a whole hell of a lot about the acting. It’s serviceable, but nothing special save for Richard O’Brien (The Rocky Horror Picture Show) as Mr. Hand. Fun fact about this movie, the Strangers are actually based off his character of Riff Raff in Rocky Horror. Anyway, while the acting is fine, I should talk more about the set design. Anyone who has seen Proyas’ earlier film The Crow knows how good he is when it comes to creating environments covered in darkness. Dark City just drives that point home. The city is a dark version of cities from many different eras of time. We never know what time period it is since the scenery is such an eclectic mix of old and new. Buildings seem like they could fall apart at any second and the lights and darks set a whole new bar for the subgenre of tech-noir.

It’s nice in these reviews to end by saying that I have a new movie to add to my list of favorites. Dark City is a mesmerizing and heady trip into the depths of science fiction and philosophy. There are a lot of stylistic similarities to Blade Runner, but (in a most unpopular opinion) I would much rather spend my time watching Dark City. If you haven’t had the opportunity to see what Roger Ebert called “the best movie of 1998,” then get working on finding a copy. It’s pretty mind blowing stuff.

Blade Trilogy – Review

31 May

When the the company Marvel comes to mind, the first characters that come to mind are Spider Man, Iron Man, X Men, and Captain America. Those are prime examples of the Marvel universe, but we shouldn’t forget about the more minor characters, like Blade. Blade is a vampire hunter, who himself is a hybrid, who made his first appearance in the tenth issue of The Tomb of Dracula in 1973. Now, he is better known for the movie trilogy with Wesley Snipes as the title character. These are, for the most part, exciting films and a smaller, but fun part, of the larger Marvel movie collection.

Let’s start our reviews with 1998 film Blade.

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Blade (Wesley Snipes) and his partner Whistler (Kris Kristofferson) have spent their lives hunting vampires, a secret race of genetic mutants that feed on human blood. Their vampirism is described as a plague that must be wiped from the face of the earth. On one night, Blade comes across Dr. Karen Jenson (N’Bushe Wright) as she is being attacked by the vampire Quinn (Donal Logue). He saves her and learns that Quinn’s leader of sorts, Deacon Frost (Stephen Dorff) has a plan to release an ancient vampire creature, La Magra, and use this entity to destroy the human race and create a society of vampires. This won’t be so easy with Blade, Whistler, and their reluctant new partner Karen hot on his tale and with plenty of motivation to stop him.

Blade is one of those movies where you have to know exactly what it is you’re going in to see. There isn’t much character development in this movie at all and the story could have been laid out a hell of  a lot smoother, but the movie really is a lot of fun. Part of this has to do with how much enjoyment the actors seem to be having. Snipes and Kristofferson both seem really into their roles and I immediately sided with them and their cause. The real scene stealer, however, is Stephen Dorff. He not only looks the part, but really dives into the whole persona of Frost and makes it his own. I feel like you can tell when actors really love their role, and this is one of those times.

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Blade also has great action, and a lot of it. When a vampire gets killed, it disintegrates into dust and bones, which looks really cool and remains that way for the entirety of the trilogy. There’s also gallons of blood to be seen in this movie, which is good because this is a movie about vampires. The narrative construction and character development may lack in a big way, but this film is a whole lot of bloody fun that makes me wonder what happened to cool vampires like the ones I’m seeing here. There’s no sparkling to be seen. Isn’t that incentive enough?

One of my favorite film makers, Guillermo Del Toro, would go on to make Blade II in 2002. This was a huge step forward for not only the series, but also for special effects and costume design.

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It seems like the last thing Blade would want to do ever is join forces with vampires. Well, unfortunately for him, that is exactly what he has to do. The vampire and human races are in danger when a new breed of vampire surfaces that feeds on both. These “reapers” pass on the virus to other vampires when they are fed on. Blade and Whistler, and their new partner Scud (Norman Reedus) are commissioned by the vampire overlord Eli Damaskinos (Thomas Kretschmann) to join a team of vampires called the Bloodpack to go out and hunt these reapers and take them all down, especially their leader and origin of the virus, Jared Nomak (Luke Goss). The Bloodpack was originally formed to hunt and kill Blade, so tensions are pushed which makes for a dangerous time for everyone involved, perhaps even more dangerous than the reapers.

I absolutely love everything about Blade II. This is one of the most fun action movies I have ever seen and it is shot so well. The story is an improvement from the first in terms of character development and complexity, but that’s only the beginning. The special effects and make up all look really fantastic. There are times when fights seamlessly become computer generated to show us angles and action that we otherwise would not have been able to see. The make up for the reapers also look outstanding, and appropriately fit in with any other monster in Del Toro’s films.

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Blade II continues the story and builds the universe of this trilogy very well and basically improves on the original in every way. Some of the make up seems to have inspired the creature design in the later Underworld films and the special effects add a new layer of awesomeness to the entire thing. The only thing that isn’t as good is the villain, but Dorff’s Deacon Frost is a tough act to follow. Blade II is a blast of a movie that shouldn’t be missed out on. It’s the most fun I’ve had with a movie in a long time.

Finally, the trilogy comes to a close with the 2004 film Blade: Trinity.

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A group of vampires led by Danica Talos (Parker Posley) finds a ziggurat tomb in the Syrian desert that is the resting place of Drake Dominic Purcell, better known as Dracula. Meanwhile, Blade is having a hard time with the FBI since they caught on to what he was doing, but believes he is a sociopath killing human beings. While dodging the FBI and other officers, Blade has to team up with vampire hunters Hannibal King (Ryan Reynolds) and Whistler’s daughter Abigail (Jessica Biel) in order to take down Dracula, who might be his greatest adversary yet.

What can I say about Blade: Trinity? Simply stating that it’s the weakest entry in the series would be an understatement. Not only is it the weakest entry in the trilogy, it’s a pretty dumb movie all together. This is hardly even a Blade movie since the film makers seem to be interested in his co-starts than they are about Blade, himself. Jessica Biel doesn’t really do anything of interest in the movie except look nice and Ryan Reynolds… ugh Ryan Reynolds. I have nothing against the guy as an actor, but his performance in Blade: Trinity was almost too much to handle. David S. Goyer, who wrote all three Blade films and directed this one, obviously forgot what the concept of comic relief really meant. Every snarky line of dialogue that Reynolds says feels out of placed, forced, and not funny.

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The action sequences are also really unremarkable and edited in a way that makes them feel slow and repetitive. The other Blade movies had editing which really made the viewer feel like they were in the middle of a hectic situation, and the fights in Blade II were choreographed by Donnie Yen, which is a plus there. In this film, they’re sloppy and slow. I can hardly call this a Blade movie. Even Wesley Snipes had major problems with it and stayed away from Goyer for most of the shoot. Bottom line, it doesn’t bring anything new or exciting, nor does it uphold what made the other movies so good. It’s a huge disappointment and I would recommend you stay away from this.

This trilogy is pretty cool for the most part. The original Blade is a welcoming start to the trilogy with a villain that steals the show. Blade II is one of the better action movies I have ever seen and I’m very excited to watch it again. Blade: Trinity is a stupid mess of a movie that I could have gone my entire life without seeing and been a better person for it. Two out of three movies aren’t bad and the first two shouldn’t be missed. Even though Marvel only produced the last film, Blade is still a Marvel character, making these pretty interesting pieces to the Marvel universe. If you ever find yourself in need of a break from Tony Stark, check out the Blade Trilogy, well… at least the first two.