Film Review: Blade II (2002)

Also known as: Blade 2: Bloodlust (working title)
Release Date: March 21st, 2002 (premiere)
Directed by: Guillermo del Toro
Written by: David S. Goyer
Based on: Blade by Marv Wolfman, Gene Colan
Music by: Marco Beltrami
Cast: Wesley Snipes, Kris Kristofferson, Ron Perlman, Leonor Varela, Norman Reedus, Luke Goss, Danny John-Jules, Donnie Yen, Matt Schulze

Marvel Enterprises, Amen Ra Films, Imaginary Forces, New Line Cinema, 117 Minutes

Review:

“They tortured me almost to death, and then let me heal in a vat of blood so they could go at it again. Sorry sons of bitches could’ve at least fixed my damn leg while they were at it.” – Whistler

I think I liked Blade II when I saw it in theaters, which was the last time I saw it. However, seeing it with 2019 eyes, this thing is a total failure when compared to the solidness of the first picture.

Guillermo del Toro directed this, which means something to a lot of people, but if I’m being honest, del Toro rarely wows me. I don’t know why. I like his style to a point but I think he’s a severely over hyped filmmaker and his faults are really apparent in this movie.

The first movie in this franchise had superb character development and world building. This just takes all of that and makes it darker for the sake of making it darker and it adds in so much of del Toro’s narrative and visual tropes that its a flat movie with flat, predictable characters that act more like caricatures than real people. Blade II is a perfect example of style over substance.

This also has a new vampire threat that is very del Toro-esque and while these new, more dangerous vampires should be scary, they’re just kind of weird and go so far outside of what a typical vampire is that they feel like a different type of monster altogether. That’s not necessarily a bad thing but I just don’t like these creatures and they seem pretty generic and lame. Plus, they all basically look the same, which is just shirtless, bald and pale things. If I’m being honest, it’s as if del Toro is trying to channel some of the visual cues from Dark City‘s baddies while adding in a bit more fright factor with their jaws splitting open and revealing vampire vagina faces like the aliens from the Predator franchise.

While there are several actors I like in this beyond Snipes and Kristofferson, all of them are poorly used. Ron Perlman is underwhelming, Norman Reedus is annoying, Donnie Yen is wasted and Danny John-Jules feels like a watered down and less fabulous version of his most famous character, the Cat from Red Dwarf.

I didn’t like the bad guys, I didn’t like the plot twists that one can see from ten miles away and there was nothing here that justifies the need for a sequel.

I’m trying to think of one scene or sequence that stands out in the movie and I’ve got nothing. This is just an almost two-hour music video full of late ’90s techno and industrial scene cliches. And the whole shebang is derivative as fuck.

Rating: 5.25/10
Pairs well with: the other Blade movies.

TV Review: Red Dwarf – The Modern Era (2012- )

Original Run: October 4th, 2012 – current
Created by: Doug Naylor
Directed by: Doug Naylor
Written by: Doug Naylor
Based on: Dave Hollis: Space Cadet by Rob Grant, Doug Naylor
Music by: Howard Goodall
Cast: Craig Charles, Chris Barrie, Danny John-Jules, Robert Llewellyn

Grant Naylor, Baby Cow Productions, BBC, Dave, 18 Episodes (so far), 28-30 Minutes (per episode)

Review:

After the success of Red Dwarf: Back to Earth in 2009, Doug Naylor and the Red Dwarf crew came back together for a full season in 2012. Since then, we’ve had seasons in 2016 and 2017 with even more on their way, from what Naylor has said.

I was hugely impressed with the tenth season when it debuted in 2012 and it was my favorite season since the sixth, way back in 1993. Everything about it just felt right. Additionally, I loved the look of the show. While Red Dwarf had lots of set changes from season to season, this one had my favorite sets since the first two seasons of the show. Plus, the writing for Red Dwarf X was absolutely stellar and there are episodes in this series that I consider classics now.

I didn’t like Red Dwarf XI as much as X but it was still pretty damn satisfying. I wasn’t a fan of the set changes but for the most part, I was captivated by these episodes. Again, good stories and great execution of the material from the cast, who, at this point, are so comfortable together that they feel like actual family.

The most recent season, Red Dwarf XII just debuted a few months ago. I got to check it out with my Britbox add-on for my FireStick. It was a pretty good season but out of the modern stuff, I still like Red Dwarf X the best. The last episode of the season was nice though, as there were some cameos of old school Red Dwarf characters that haven’t been seen since the classic run of the show in the ’90s.

The modern era of Red Dwarf is a great continuation of the series that is more in line with the show at its peak than Back to Earth and the last few seasons of the classic era.

To be honest, I would watch Red Dwarf till the end of time and there’s a part of me that hopes that we get to check in with these guys once in awhile for years to come.

Rating: 9/10
Pairs well with: Anything Red Dwarf.

 

TV Review: Red Dwarf – Back to Earth (2009)

Original Run: April 10th, 2009 – April 12th, 2009
Created by: Doug Naylor
Directed by: Doug Naylor
Written by: Doug Naylor
Based on: Dave Hollis: Space Cadet by Rob Grant, Doug Naylor
Music by: Howard Goodall
Cast: Craig Charles, Chris Barrie, Danny John-Jules, Robert Llewellyn, Chloë Annett, Sophie Winkleman

Grant Naylor, UK Gold Services Limited, BBC, Dave, 3 Episodes, 25 Minutes (per episode)

Review:

It took a decade but after the weird eighth season that capped off the original run of the Red Dwarf televisions series, we finally got the promised followup. While a theatrical film was teased for years, it never materialized. Instead, we got this three-part special that aired over Easter weekend in 2009.

Back to Earth was a vast improvement over seasons seven and eight, which left many fans baffled and sad. It also brought Red Dwarf back into people’s minds and allowed for the show to actually return in its normal form which happened in 2012 and we have since had three seasons of the show following this special.

For the most part, this is a pretty good outing for Lister, Rimmer, Cat and Kryten. I wasn’t a fan of the multi-episode experiments they did in season eight, as they really contributed to the slow and drab feeling of that series. Here, the concept works though. But thankfully, this was the last time that they did a multi-part story.

This three parter is called Back to Earth because the Dwarfers actually get back to Earth but it is the Earth of our time. Furthermore, it isn’t the Dwarfers Earth it is literally our Earth. You see, the Red Dwarf crew discover that they are fictional characters made up to entertain us in the real world. They then go on a quest to get their show to continue because they don’t want to die with its cancellation. Of course, there are some twists in the plot and luckily for us, the show did continue beyond this.

This series is also an awesome homage to the sci-fi/neo-noir classic Blade Runner. It has a lot of gags and moments that are recreations of key scenes from the film and they are done beautifully. It added a cool aesthetic to this story.

Also, the story is a throwback to a really popular older episode. I’m not going to say which, as it may spoil some of the twists.

The only really weird thing about this series, is that it didn’t have a live audience or even a laugh track. The lack of canned laughter is actually kind of distracting but you do get used to it, once the Dwarfers leave their normal surroundings and get to modern Earth at the start of the second episode.

The crossover between Craig Charles’ two biggest shows Red Dwarf and Coronation Street was really damn cool, as well.

Ultimately, this isn’t as good as the classic series, as a whole, but as a standalone story, it is one of my favorites. Had it been the final time we saw these guys, as many believed in 2009, it would have been a fine and honorable sendoff.

But I’m pretty happy that we’ve gotten three more seasons after this with more presumably to come.

Rating: 8/10
Pairs well with: Anything Red Dwarf.

TV Review: Red Dwarf – The Classic Era (1988-1999)

Original Run: February 15th, 1988 – April 5th, 1999
Created by: Rob Grant, Doug Naylor
Directed by: Ed Bye, various
Written by: Rob Grant, Doug Naylor, various
Based on: Dave Hollis: Space Cadet by Rob Grant, Doug Naylor
Music by: Howard Goodall
Cast: Craig Charles, Chris Barrie, Danny John-Jules, Robert Llewellyn, Norman Lovett, Hattie Hayridge, Chloë Annett

Grant Naylor, BBC, 52 Episodes, 28-30 Minutes (per episode)

Review:

Red Dwarf is one of the greatest television shows ever produced. In its classic run, it was a near perfect comedic masterpiece until the early parts of season seven and the entirety of season eight. Still, six really stellar seasons is more than most shows can accomplish and even if the quality dipped, by that point, we were still spending time with these beloved characters.

The plot is bizarre but pretty original and kind of cool. Dave Lister gets put into stasis for bringing a cat on board of the mining space ship Red Dwarf. When he wakes up, he’s three million years in the future, the crew is dead, except for a hologram of his annoying superior officer and bunk mate, Arnold Rimmer, as well as a character evolved from his pet cat, appropriately named Cat. In season three, the crew are joined by the butler mechanoid Kryten. There is also the ship’s computer, Holly.

There first two seasons of the show are actually my favorite, mostly because it’s new and fresh and for a long time, it was the only portion of the show I had access to, thanks to VHS tapes sent to me from a friend in the UK. But I loved the sets and style of the first two seasons. After that, the show evolved visually where there were a lot of aesthetic changes and inconsistencies from season to season.

The real spirit of the show is strongest however from seasons three to six. That’s where the show found its proper footing, had its full cast without any extra flourishes and also featured the best writing. While Lister, Rimmer and Cat were fun in the first two years of the show, seasons three through six are where they really become real people that you care for, which is just a testament to the great writing as well as the talent of Craig Charles, Chris Barrie and Danny John-Jules – the original three stars. Robert Llewellyn’s addition to the cast as the full-time version of Kryten (he appeared in one episode of season two, played by a different actor) was a real cherry on top of the sweet sundae that was this group of characters.

In season seven, things go a bit downhill. Rimmer left the show in episode two and just had two very brief cameos in the season. In the cast, he was replaced by the show’s first and only real full-time female star, Chloë Annett. She played Kochanski, the woman that Lister obsessed over since the first episode of the show. While I actually did like Annett and the character, where most fans did not, she still felt out of place and it disrupted the dynamic of the show. I don’t blame Annett, it was just that the show had a certain formula and with her there, that formula was gone.

Season eight was pretty atrocious though and is the main reason why I can’t give the classic run of Red Dwarf a perfect rating. It was an ambitious season, as far as how drastically the show was altered but ambition is often times misguided. Had the show ended at season six, it would have been absolute perfection.

The show would then leave the airwaves for a decade. Over the course of that time there was a Red Dwarf movie being discussed but it was in developmental hell for quite some time. In 2009, the show would return with the three-part special Back to Earth, which I will review on its own. A few years after that, the show was resurrected and is still in production today. I’ll also review that separately.

Rating: 9.5/10