The Dark Knight Rises is coming to the end of its cinema run now, and by all accounts it’s been pretty popular. Crucial to its popularity are two things: it’s the last of a trilogy and it’s, y’know, good. But as you all know, quality and popularity are not one in the same thing- though Nolan has been able to channel the expectation and hype that comes as part and parcel of capping a series, creating a film that can match the expectations of previous incarnations is often a difficult affair.
There are plenty of films that have failed where Nolan’s has succeeded, and for myriad reasons. They might buckle under the weight of the whole enterprise, they might forget what made the previous films so popular, or they might just lose the plot entirely. There are many threequels that fluff their lines, so here’s a run-down of some of the worst, from the bad to the just plain baffling.
6. Blade Trinity
The Wesley Snipes-driven vampire franchise was never anything less than entertaining over the first two films. Whilst the first was never going to rip up any critical trees, it proved itself to be a fun vehicle. It married winning performances from Snipes as Blade and Kris Kristofferson as Whistler with a certain dark aesthetic and brutality far removed from what some perceived as the traditional comic-book universe.
The second film did everything a sequel should do; it expanded the universe and raised the stakes (no pun intended). On top of this, the film possessed a trump card in Guillermo Del Toro, pre-Pan’s Labyrinth. His ability to project memorable dreamscape of gothic horror meshed perfectly with the tone of the series, creating something darkly beautiful whilst still positively swimming in blood and viscera.
Enter Blade Trinity. It wasn’t as such that the third film dropped the ball, more that it wasn’t even on the same field. It simply wasn’t engaging; the new stars were unremarkable- it cast Triple H, for god’s sake. Jesssica Biel lacked charisma and Ryan Reynolds was just so painfully unfunny, looking even worse when it became apparent that they were meant to replace a Whistler who had been inexplicably written out after a glorified prologue. An abandonment of the macabre, gothic tone in favour of a more urbanised, ‘street’ aesthetic didn’t help matters either.
But what was truly the final nail in the coffin was the lack of a decent villain. Though the Blade films had traditionally suffered from this problem, Blade Trinity had drafted in Dracula. This was a major selling point- the king of the vampires versus their most renowned hunter sounds like a great idea on paper, but paper and celluloid are entirely different beasts. After all, only one can be folded into aeroplanes.
Trinity was banking on its villain like none of the films before it, but when Dominic Purcell’s portrayal of Transylvania’s finest proved to be limp and wooden there was a clear sense that a unique selling point had been fumbled, and disappointingly at that.
The fact of the matter is that it could have been so much more. Indeed, it should’ve been; Goyer’s original draft had brought the action twenty years after the second film, where vampires have effectively enslaved humanity and left Blade (who ages slower due to his vampire blood) as their only hope. But in a move that made no sense, this version was rejected for being ‘too dark’. Rejecting a Blade film for being ‘too dark’ is akin to rejecting War Horse for having too many horses. It’s a misunderstanding that goes beyond the ridiculous and into the just plain silly. But what’s plain unforgivable is that it led to this abomination instead.
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