Blade II Blu-ray Review

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Year:  2002 | Rating:  R | Runtime: 1 HR 57 MIN

Aspect Ratio: 1:78.1 | Video Resolution: 1080P
Audio: Eng 7.1 DTS-HD MA, Eng 5.1 DTS-HD MA, assorted foreign audio tracks| Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, Czech, Russian

Director:  Guillermo del Toro
Writer:  David S. Goyer
Starring:  Wesley Snipes, Luke Gross, Kris Kristofferson, Leonor Varela, Norman Reedus, Thomas Kretschmann, and Ron Perlman

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A new form of vampire called Reapers are desolating the vampire population throughout Eastern Europe.  In a desperate attempt to stop this seemingly impossible foe the vampire nation enlists Blade to try and stop them.  He is given command of the Bloodpack, a specialized group of vampire commandos that were actually trained to kill Blade.  The Reapers put the uneasy partnership between Blade and the Bloodpack to the test as they prove to be as resilient as they are bloodthirsty with a secret agenda all their own.

Blade II in some ways is a superior film to the original while in other ways it falls well short.  The main villain, Nomak (Luke Goss) is nowhere near as much fun or deliciously evil as Deacon Frost.  Nomak is setup as a bloodthirsty monster but by the end he’s more of a tragic victim which robs the film of a certain amount of viciousness.  Where Blade II excels past its predecessor is in terms of the rest of the cast, its special effects, and direction.  Wesley Snipes and Kris Kristofferson return but it’s the addition of the great Ron Pearlman that really pushes Blade II to the next level.  Also joining the cast is Norman Reedus (The Walking Dead), Matt Schulze (Fast Five), and Thomas Kretschmann (Wanted), they’re not all names you’ll recognize but you’ll definitely know their faces.

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The believability of CGI made huge strides between the first and second Blade films.  There are still some questionable CGI in Blade II but nothing that really takes you out of the flow of the film.  Mexican director Guillermo del Toro brings an even bleaker and darker style to the franchise going as far as changing the aspect ratio from 2.35:1 to 1.85:1.  Guillermo del Toro’s employs a much more fluid camera work than what was seen in the original and really tries to envelope you in the action.

The stylistic changes made by del Toro don’t always lend itself to making a great looking Blu-ray transfer.  If you watched Blade and Blade II back-to-back you might initially think that Blade has a superior transfer but you’d be wrong.  The transfer of Blade II is just as good as the one found on Blade it’s just that Blade II is shot much differently than the original.  Blade II is a softer looking film than its predecessor; it’s also much darker with long periods of the film taking place in gritty and murky sewers.  Does that type of environment lend itself well to HD?  Not really, but it was an intentional choice by the director and his cinematographer and this Blu-ray is a good representation of the how Blade II looked theatrically.  Colors, particularly reds pop very well, the grain is appropriate, and detail especially on close-ups is very good.  Black levels can be a little too dark at times leading to some information loss but that again has more to do with the stylistic choice of the filmmakers than the Blu-ray transfer.  I’d rather have the studio do nothing than overzealously tinker with the picture leading to too much digital manipulation.

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I thought the original Blade sounded spectacular but Blade II is even better.  The 7.1 DTS-HD MA track is easily demo material for anyone interested in giving their setup a thorough workout from head to toe.  Dialogue is firmly centered while the three front channels make slicing and dicing through the Reapers sound easy as pie (or should I say ‘humans’?).  If you’re lucky enough to have a 7.1 setup the added surround channels don’t go to waste as they all are given plenty to do while not sounding gimmicky in the process.   The LFE channel will give your downstairs neighbors reason to come knocking on your door since they’ll think their ceiling is probably about to cave in.  It’s a great sounding disc especially if you like listening to a rib cage break apart in graphic audio detail.

The commentary tracks, deleted scenes, music videos, trailers, assorted featurettes, and The Blood Pact documentary are all ported over from the 2002 DVD release.  A new HD Director’s Notebook and interview between Guillermo del Toro and writer David S. Goyer called Blade II: Blood Brothers is also included.  Pretty much everything you’d ever want to know about Blade II can be found here in one way or another.  Not all the material has aged well and you might get a sense of déjà vu since some material is redundant but it’s still a very decent supplement package even if most of it is showcased in SD.

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Blade II, like the original Blade is still a silly karate-vampire flick but it delivers on what it advertises.  The Blu-ray presentation is strong across the board; the video might not blow you away but it is a good representation of the source material, the audio is second to none, and the special features have some new HD material added to an already informative package.  If you’re a fan of Blade II this is really a no brainer, if you’re a newcomer to the world of Blade I still recommend it as a blind buy.

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Written by

Nicholas Herum