I’ve never been a huge fan of the Blade movies. While the first on was a passable action flick and the second one was easily better than the first (no doubt due to Guillermo del Toro’s directing), the third really was a boring film to me, even though Ryan Reynolds certainly kept the humor going in it. I initially had no intention of watching the series, but when this DVD was announced I opted to give it a chance.
The series, starring Sticky Fingaz as Blade, has long since been cancelled, but followed a much different path than the films did. Sticking to a plot close to a cop series, Blade definitely felt separate from its movie counterpart, even if it shared a few things in common (the mythology, a few references to past technology and, of course, Blade’s Dodge Charger); aiding in this separation was the introduction of new characters, including Krista Starr (played by Jill Wagner) who became an integral part of the series throughout the twelve episode run.
Having only the pilot to go off of, I have to say that if what I heard was true about the series, that it got progressively better as it went on, then the show was definitely worth watching. I was thoroughly entertained by the pilot and while Fingaz as Blade seemed off to me at first, I grew accustomed to this portrayal (plus, it’s not like I completely enjoyed Snipes Blade from the films either). Still, the series definitely showed potential in this short pilot and the unrated version no doubt amps up the mayhem a bit more, although from what I could tell from the commentary tracks, most of the “unrated” material was just extra foul language and nudity.
There isn’t much to say about the pilot as a standalone. While the DVD may treat it as a direct-to-video feature, being around the proper run time for such a thing (90 minutes, give or take), it still feels a bit like a television show. Everything is left open for more and it definitely made me curious about the rest of the series, although knowing that it’s cancelled certainly puts a damper on things.
In the end we get a very good first episode that is highly entertaining, Here’s hoping that the rest of the series drops on DVD, in similar “Unrated” fashion, so that Blade fans can at least get more of the show they loved (or didn’t, depending on how you view the ratings).
Presented in a standard, single disc amaray case with no insert, the DVD comes with a slipcover that mirrors recent New Line slip covers—not much on the rear of the slip cover aside from larger graphics and movie quotes. Underneath, of course, is the description and more images from the series. At least New Line makes an effort to keep the slip covers slightly different from the insert underneath. Disc art mirrors the rear cover image and menus are fully animated with music over the main menu.
The video and audio transfer for the film is decent. There is plenty of interlacing to be seen on the transfer, sadly enough; the reds are obviously the ugliest thing on screen and compression rears its ugly head a lot, especially during some of the blood splatter sequences. It certainly looks better in the anamorphic widescreen transfer than it did in a 4:3 box on Spike, but the video could be a tad better. The 5.1 is a fair transfer as well, never really utilizing the full surround but still sounding robust at times.
The first extras on the disc are the commentaries. Yes, you read that right—this one comes with two commentaries! One featuring Director Peter O’Fallon and another featuring writer David Goyer and Geoff Johns; Goyer and Johns tend to start repeating themselves halfway through the track, with Goyer constantly mentioning how the series only gets better. The writer’s commentary is definitely the more entertaining of the two, but O’Fallon provides a great technical commentary. A few notes are repeated in both commentaries, but nothing too irksome.
Following the commentaries is the biggest surprise of the disc: the hour long documentary on the pilot, entitled “Turning Blade.” Split into seven parts, the documentary goes in-depth of the initial production of the pilot to the final product. Plenty of cool tidbits are thrown out along the way from the cast and crew and it makes me entirely sad to watch this, knowing how much fun they had making this series. Really kind of blows that we won’t get to see more of it—but one can hope we’ll get to see the series on DVD someday.
In the end, I’m conflicted on how to recommend this DVD. On one hand the pilot is fun to watch and the hour long documentary is a nice extra. On the other hand the inevitable series release makes me hesitant to outright tell you to go out and buy this. In the end, it boils down to one simple thing: fans of the series, this release comes Recommended, while all others should Rent It and wait for the series release. Hopefully the hour long documentary is ported over that release, should it ever come; if not, this single disc release should find a welcome home in fans collections.
Blade: House of Chthon arrives on DVD on September 18th.