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Blade: Trinity

Blade Remains Class of the Comic-Book Crowd

If this is indeed the end of the Blade saga -- hardly a certainty, given Trinityís open-ended conclusion -- thatís a shame, as it has proven to be one of the more enduring and consistently satisfying franchises to have made the leap from the comic-book world. True, this third installment is the slightest of the lot, marred by sloppy editing and rapid-fire action sequences that never seem to hit their stride. But if Blade: Trinity stumbles out of the gate, it regains its footing early on and sprints to a tour-de-force climax in which our leather-clad hero faces off against his most famous adversary to date -- none other than Dracula himself.

Dracula (Dominic Purcell) -- or Drake, as he is known to his modern-day vampire buddies -- is easily the least charismatic of Bladeís foes to date, but then, how engaging would you be if youíd just been rudely awakened from a 7,000-year slumber? Helping to compensate for his lack of personality is the tough-as-nails Danica Talos (Parker Posey), who is equal parts bloodsucker and dominatrix. Talos is bent on bringing the human race to its knees, and Posey has fun with the role, playing the would-be-dictator-in-stilettos with sly, seductive charm and a nasty sneer.

She soon learns that it takes more than a sneer to intimidate Blade, an over-the-top, trash-talking brawler who routinely pulls off acrobatic flip-kicks without losing his trademark shades. This time around, Blade is facing more than just the usual gang of bloodsucking idiots. Heís wanted for murder by the FBI, and it doesnít help matters that the police have joined forces with the vampire elite.

Luckily, he has two new sidekicks: the wisecracking Hannibal King (Ryan Reynolds, of Van Wilder fame) and Abigail Whistler (Jessica Biel), who signals her arrival with a spirited street fight that jumpstarts the movie. Reynolds, for his part, is used effectively for comic relief when heís not being used as a human punching bag by vampires of both sexes. Both fit nicely into the supporting cast, though the key to Bladeís success has always been Wesley Snipes, who attacks the title role with the perfect mix of athletic zeal and stone-face solemnity.

Director David S. Goyer lacks the visual savvy that Guillermo del Toro brought to Blade II, and when Goyer is off his game, his clumsily paced fight scenes feel too much like spliced-together MTV videos. The action becomes faster and more cohesive as the story unfolds, culminating in an electrifying battle royal that elevates Trinity to the lofty level of its predecessors. Itís a frenetic feast for the eyes, and itís proof that the Blade series has lost none of its charms.

Stars: 3.5 out of 5 Stars