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DVD Reviews

HTF REVIEW: "Blade 2" (Highly Recommended) (with screenshots)



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#1 of 73 Ronald Epstein

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Posted July 23 2002 - 07:37 AM

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Blade 2






Studio: New Line
Year: 2002
Rated: R
Film Length: 117 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 16X9 Enhanced Widescreen (1.85:1)



The Dark Knight Returns


Are you ready? I mean, are your really ready?
Because Blade 2 is going to pack more punch
in your system than any other DVD that has come
before it. I'll give you all the details in a moment.

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In case you don't know it already, Blade
(Wesley Snipes) is half-Human half-Vampire. He
hunts the vampires, and is known as known as
'The Daywalker', as he has all of their strengths
and none of their weaknesses. All of this is
quickly reviewed via flashbacks during the film's
opening moments.

When we last left Blade, Whistler (Kris
Kristofferson), had been bitten by a vampire and
left to live to become a vampire himself. Blade
couldn't bring himself to kill Whistler, so he
left Whistler a gun. The last thing we heard was a
single gunshot.

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Well, apparently, Whistler hadn't succeeded in
suicide. After Blade rescues Whistler, they return
to find their lair infiltrated by two highly
trained vampire assassins, Nyssa (Leonor Varela)
and Asad (Danny John-Jules). They bring a message
from the vampire high council who wishes to offer
Blade a temporary truce in order to fight a greater
enemy.

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Blade meets with the vampire council and learns
of a new breed of Vampires called Reapers, the
product of the mutated Vampire virus. It's leader
is Jared Nomack (Luke Goss), and he's out to destroy
the entire vampire race. The Reapers are spreading
quickly and the vampire high council wants Blade
to head up an elite fighting team to erase the
Reapers. Blade has little choice but to join the
'Bloodpack' of vampires (originally trained to
kill him), in order to erase the Reapers.

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Blade 2 takes everything from the first
film and puts it in higher gear with some of the
most intense and well-choreographed martial-arts
action (staged by Donnie Yen) seen in film to date.
It also qualifies as the gross-out movie of the year.
The only problem I had with the film was that there
was too much emphasis put on the fight sequences
that seem to go on forever.


How is the transfer?


DVD has a new standard.

Filled with wonderfully warm red and blue filtered
colors, this transfer can't be beat! With incredible
sharp detail and solid blacks, Blade 2 looks
tremendously smooth and film-like. With most of
the action taking place in the dark underworld
sewers of the city, one would expect the introduction
of film grain or other transfer flaws. Well, there
are no flaws. Even in the darker scenes, picture
level remains well balanced with no hint of grain.

The 6.1 DTS audio track is unlike anything you
have experienced before. It will totally immerse
you into the underworld, bringing you smack in the
middle of sound that not only encircles you, but
makes you feel part of the action. I have yet to
hear a mix that is so heart-poundingly aggressive.

From the moment the film begins, the entire sound
field comes to life with the rumblings of trains
inside a Prague station. Before long, bullets
begin to fly everywhere, whizzing past your head,
as Blade makes mincemeat of vampires. The guts
of the vampires, like thrown Jello, can be
distinctively heard as they pass through each
channel. The LFE channel packs every bullet hit
with pounding blows to the subwoofer. Nail
everything you have down, because the LFE response
is absolutely incredible from start to finish.


Special Features


As part of New Line's highly touted Platinum
Series
, Blade 2 is released in a deluxe
2-disc set that isn't stingy on supplemental material.

Disc One contains the film which can be
played with your choice of two audio commentaries.
The first is with Director Guillermo Del Toro and
Producer Peter Frankfurt. The second is with Writer
David Goyer and Wesley Snipes.

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Disc Two contains the Special Features
that are divided into three main categories:
Production Workshop; Deleted and Alternative
Scenes
and Promotional Material.

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Let us start with Production Workshop...


The Blood Pack is an 83 minute documentary
on the making of the film. It ranges from production
design to costume to choreography to music. While
watching this documentary, a "glyph" icon will appear
that will take you into additional material via
branching. When that branched material is complete,
you are returned to the point of the documentary you
left off at.

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Instead of watching the entire documentary, I
concentrated on Chapter 5, which dealt with the
design of the creatures. Director Guillermo del
Toro talks about the earliest designs for the Reaper
creatures and how these creatures evolved using
the features of other blood-sucking animals. We
get to take a look at some of the live actor makeup
tests as well as the many clay designs used for
each stage of mouth and jaw movement. Puppets
were even used for the Reaper attacks, and you'll
be amazed the first time you see one of these
realistic puppets in action. This is one of the
most thorough looks at creature designing I have
seen on any DVD to date.

Posted Image

Sequence Breakdowns is absolutely amazing.
Here New Line takes 5 of the best sequences from
the film and dissects the living crap out of it
by letting you first read the script as it was
written by David Goyer, then read it as the final
shooting script, then watch storyboard and visual
effects sheets map it all out, and then see the
action that took place on the set. Put it all
together and end it by watching the scene as it
appeared in the final film. For anyone interested
in how film is made from start to finish ought to
take great interest in this segment.

Posted Image

Visual Effects begins with Synthetic
Stuntmen The Digital Maw
which takes you
through the CGI and digital maw process. Through
the film dailies, we watch as how scenes are
originally safely performed and filmed before
they go for CGI touch up. A montage from the
Tippet Studio shows exactly where live action
and CGI animation meet. In Progress Reports,
we watch the many videotape shorts that Makeup
Designer Steve Johnson sent Director Guillermo
to keep him apprised of his progress. From the
creation of embryos to a Dummy Whistler to
Reaper's heads, this progress report is a
fascinating journey through the creative process.

Posted Image

The Art Gallery is filled with dozens of
photos that are broken down into categories of
Sequence Concepts, Props & Weapons, Costume
Design, Set Design, Character Design
and
Storyboards.

There are two Notebooks included here.
The first is Director Guillermo's diary that
contains his personal ideas and thoughts that
are written down during the filming. A video
introduction from the Director warns that you
may be surprised what you read here, as these
notes are really personal. Using your remote
you can browse through the pages of text that
are often hard to read (don't even know if it's
English), but supplemented with some really neat
drawings. The Script Supervisor's Notebook
is a more interesting layout of text and Polaroid
photos which chronicle the making of the film.

Finally, there are three sections of unfilmed
script pages
, including one of a scene that
takes place at a mini-Mart.

Now let's take a look at Deleted and Alternate
Scenes
....

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It's always funny to watch a video introduction
by a Director that refers to his deleted scenes
as "crap." Here for your viewing pleasure is
no less than 16 scenes of crap that never made it
to the final cut. Combined, there is about 25
minutes worth of material here presented in
finalized widescreen glory. You can opt to watch
these scenes with or without Director and Producer
commentary.

Posted Image

Finally we come to Promotional Material...

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Blade II Video Game Survival Guide is
nothing more than a 2+ minute commercial for the
Playstation & X-Box video game, walking you through
different levels and giving you tips on difficult
situations.

The Theatrical Press Kit shows you how
the film was promoted to distributors worldwide.
There are pages of text that take you through the
cast, filmakers and production.

The film's original theatrical trailer is
included as well as the short teaser trailer.

Posted Image

Finally, we get the film's music video that
features Cypress Hill and Roni Size in Child of
the Wild West
.

A CD-Rom application let's you read the
film's script alongside the movie itself. There
is also access to the film's website that allows
you to download screensavers, desktops and icons.
You can also look at video footage exclusive to
the website, or, take part in the message board.

Final Thoughts


New Line once again keeps up its highest standards
that consist of quality transfer and abundant
supplements. You can literally spend hours going
through the supplemental disc which leaves no
stone unturned.

When one considers the cost of paying up to $45
to go to a theme park and experiencing ride
sensations not found anywhere else, consider the
fact that for less than $25, you can have the ride
of your life in front of your home theater.
Blade 2 offers a visual and sonic experience
like no other DVD I have seen. Stick in the disc
and crank up your system to enjoy a ride like no
other.

Release Date: September 3, 2002

Ronald J Epstein
Home Theater Forum co-owner

 

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#2 of 73 Peter Apruzzese

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Posted July 23 2002 - 07:47 AM

Nice! Thanks for the advance look.

I had the pleasure of spending some time with Guillermo Del Toro when he was a guest of honor at the Lake Placid Film Forum back in June. He was one of the most down-to-earth filmmakers I've ever met and was genuinely happy to talk to people. I asked him about the Blade II DVD and he told me that it would knock people out - sounds like he was right!
"What we're fighting for, in the end...we're fighting for each other." - Col. Joshua Chamberlain in "Gettysburg"

 


#3 of 73 Lowell_B

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Posted July 23 2002 - 07:54 AM

Posted Image

Thanks for the review. I wasn't able to catch this one in theaters, good thing the DVD looks so great.

August 20th can't come soon enough. Posted Image

Lowell

#4 of 73 dpippel

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Posted July 23 2002 - 08:08 AM

Ron - Sounds like you were a little impressed with this disc? Thanks for the review. Looks like I'll be adding another hole in my wallet. Posted Image

As an aside, it would be nice if you either posted a spoiler notice at the top of the review or omitted the last screenshot of the Reaper in action. I didn't see Blade II in the theater and had no idea of how the Reapers "worked". Now I do - before I've seen the film.
Careful man! There's a beverage here!

#5 of 73 George See

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Posted July 23 2002 - 08:12 AM

Yeah thanks alot you've just made august 20th seem 1000 years away. I can't wait for this disc I saw the movie in A great theater And one of the first things I was thinking was If they do it right the DVD is going to sound awesome.
At this point I think i'm looking forward to this more than LOTR.
Great review thanks for the sneak peak.

#6 of 73 Jenna

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Posted July 23 2002 - 08:33 AM

I caught this one in the theater. While it wasn't MY idea of a "must-own" movie, my 10 yr old son just loved it "even better than the first". I thought that most of the action sequences were too dark and too cropped, making it difficult to see what was happening.

However, I'm sure this title will be thrust in my hands before I make it to the register on August 20th. Since we already own the original "Blade" (which I thought was a superior movie), this one will have a place in our collection - if for nothing other than the sound experience.

I smell a "Blade III" just around the corner....

My Collection

#7 of 73 Jussi Tarvainen

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Posted July 23 2002 - 08:42 AM

Thanks Ron, but may I suggest changing the final image? Not because it's offensive or anything, but just because I think people who haven't seen the film should not see that mouth effect before they watch the film. Posted Image
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#8 of 73 Carlo Medina

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Posted July 23 2002 - 09:14 AM

Excellent review! I'm all over this one. Looks like August is going to be an expensive month for me...

#9 of 73 Joe Tilley

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Posted July 23 2002 - 09:15 AM

Now I really cant wate to get this into my collection.
I'm really glad to see they made this one a DTS ES title,now if they could just redo the first blade in DTS ES too I would be in candy landPosted Image

#10 of 73 Ray H

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Posted July 23 2002 - 09:28 AM

Sounds like a killer DVD!Posted Image And as for that last image, I was already spoiled by how the Reapers work when I decided to watch an episode of AMC's Cinema Secrets. But it is spoiler material and is played to be somewhat of a surprise in the film.
"Here's looking at you, kid."

 


#11 of 73 shane_watson

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Posted July 23 2002 - 09:43 AM

sounds like another ref. dvd to add to my collection,(man if this keeps up i will be broke)!.

#12 of 73 Ronald Epstein

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Posted July 23 2002 - 09:51 AM

Have edited that out, and I do apologize.

Ronald J Epstein
Home Theater Forum co-owner

 

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#13 of 73 Andrew_Sch

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Posted July 23 2002 - 10:02 AM

Nice! August 20th is five days before I have to go back to schoolPosted Image , but at least with this and Pulp Fiction my summer will go out with a bang.
"Old theatres are irreplaceable. They could never be duplicated at today's costs - but more importantly, their spirit could not be duplicated because they remind us of a day when going to the show was a more glorious and escapist experience. I think a town's old theatres are the sanctuary of...

#14 of 73 Rob T

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Posted July 23 2002 - 10:07 AM

This is a must buy for me. Posted Image

#15 of 73 Matt Pelham

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Posted July 23 2002 - 10:17 AM

You're the man Epstein, another great review. When I first saw Blade II in the theaters I hated it, but it has slowly grown on me in a weird sorta way. The DVD looks just simply nothing short of amazing though. Probably not a street date purchase, but if I see a pre-viewed copy a few weeks down the line I just might pick it up.

#16 of 73 greg_t

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Posted July 23 2002 - 10:34 AM

Ron, you just made my day. August 20th! There was a lot of confusion on the release date. I had heard it was moved back to Sept. 3rd again. Can't wait for this DVD.

#17 of 73 Sean Moon

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Posted July 23 2002 - 10:37 AM

I am not surprised in the least from this review. As I and others pointed out in a previous thread, this disc was gonna rock the house. My friend and I said that the moment we left the theater opening night.
This disc cannot come soon enough, as I am anxiously awaiting watching the totally kick ass fight at the end, and if you havent seen this film yet boys and girls, this film makes the first one look like Stuart Little. I shit you not!

And is the release date AUg20th, or Sept 3rd? DVDfile says 3rd, here says 20th. Some websites also say both! WHICH IS IT!?
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#18 of 73 Anthony Thorne

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Posted July 23 2002 - 11:04 AM

I was amazed with BLADE 2. The film really pushed the standards of what I'd expect from a contemporary action film, and ended up being much better than I'd expected. (I was hoping for a pretty good movie, but got something close to a great one). That first swordfight in the warehouse with the two ninja vampires was amazing - I remember being especially impressed with the sound mix in the theater. Hearing that the DVD represents all this with accurate fidelity is very nice.

The supplements also sound great. The 80+ minute doco alone sounds like a major extra, but seems to be the tip of the iceberg on this DVD. New Line deserve every kudo they get for producing state-of-the-art packages like this 2-disc set. BLADE 2 will be an essential puchase for me when it streets.

Now, if this set rocks the house, what will New Line's FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING 4-disc set be like? Bless their hearts...

Almost forgot to mention (and Steve's post below reminded me) - yep, that was a really great review Ron! Well done!

#19 of 73 Steve Christou

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Posted July 23 2002 - 11:06 AM

Bloody good review Ron!
As a self-confessed extras junkie I'm all over this one, can't wait.Posted Image Posted Image

Dave hören... auf, wille stoppen sie Dave... stoppen sie Dave... Mein gehirn geht... Ich bin gefühl es... Ich bin gefühl es... Ich bin ängstlich Dave... Guter Nachmittag. Ich bin ein HAL 9000 computer. Ich wurde funktionsfähig am HAL-Betrieb in Urbana, Illinois auf January 12 1992.


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#20 of 73 Dan Brecher

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Posted July 23 2002 - 11:16 AM

Blade, the first one, didn't do a lot for me. I liked it, it was fun, I got the DVD (still one of the best A/V transfers out there) but subsequently sold it on due to not watching it enough.

I'm tempted to give Blade II a try, least of all for that stunning rack of extras on offer. I need to read up more on feedback of the movie, because I still don't bring myself to get a title on basis of A/V and extras alone.

Dan