Some mofo skatin’ uphill

Here it is, two weeks after the opening of Blade II, and the Wesley Snipes comic book creature feature is chugging along nicely: Box office reports put the film at 13.1 million dollars this past weekend, for a total of 54.9 million dollars.

I don’t expect this belated review will have much impact on the continued success of Wesley Snipes’ self-produced monster blockbuster, as reviews seem largely irrelevant to the series. The first Blade was a wildly off-kilter horror film, sometimes seeming less interested in baring its fangs at the audience than camping it up in discotheques and pomo high rise apartment complexes. Despite the film’s wildly inconsistent moods (or perhaps because of them; after all, how often do you find a blaxsploitation-styled half-vampire riding a muscle car and felling the club-kid-suited undead with automatic gunfire) and a general ambivalence on the part of reviewers, Blade turned out to be one of the sleeper hits of 1998. And again, with Blade II, there is this strange mix of moods-the film is at once a HongKong-styled actioner, a bleakly sadistic exercise in horror conventions, and a comedy-and a certain critical ambivalence. The site www.rottentomatoes.com, which reprints reviews nationwide, shows critics about evenly split as to whether they like the film or not.

And it is hard to know what to say about this film. Cult-horror director Gillermo del Toro has provided Blade II with a superabundance of flashy visuals: pale uber-vampires with seamed mouths that spread open from the jaw, petal-like, revealing a fleshy, toothy, suckling tongue; a crack squad of vampire assassins, trained to hunt Wesley Snipe’s vampire-slayer, who spin

through the air like CGI-generated pinwheels, wrapped in skin-tight