The screen adaptation of Blade is written by David S. Goyer who has been responsible for such darkly driven works as Dark City (1998) and Batman Begins (2005). Goyer has become one of the major interpreters of comic-books on screen. (A complete list of David S. Goyers credits is at the bottom of this page). Blade was helmed by Stephen Norrington who made a striking directorial debut with Death Machine (1995), a killer robot film that transcended its low-budget with an immense ferocity and energy and marked former effects man Norrington as one of the most promising of up and coming genre directors. Blade was Stephen Norringtons second film and his debut in the American A-budget mainstream.
Although Blade is not as intensive an all-out ride as Death Machine was, Stephen Norrington succeeds in fulfilling the promise that his earlier film showed, injecting a considerable amount of stylistic elan into the film notably a breathlessly intensive sequence with Wesley Snipes and vampires chasing one another through a subway tunnel alongside speeding trains. In the script, David S. Goyer conducts some unique twists on vampire legend. If the likes of The Lost Boys (1987) and Near Dark (1987) represent the transformation of the vampire into a badass thug relishing the freedom of the modern world, then Blade takes it to a logical extreme wherein the vampires are a kind of criminal underworld preying on humanity secretly controlling the city, running vampire nightclubs that spray blood through the walls onto the vampiric patrons, treating would-be converts as a slave underclass, even marking them as their own property. Indeed, Blade could almost read as an action film wherein Wesley Snipes might be a cop taking on a group of drug underlords amid considerable outlay of artillery fire. The plot becomes considerably more cliche-driven in the latter quarter when David S. Goyer has Stephen Dorff conducting hackneyed Lovecraftian rites to raise elder gods.
Blade was criticized at the time as being a comic-book but the critics that did so seemed to elude the obvious point that is exactly what it is meant to be. Indeed, Stephen Norrington and David S. Goyer do a decent job at capturing the dark, nihilistic mood that drives modern screen comic-book adaptations. Blade never fully resonates with the scintillatingly dark psychology of either of the first two Batman films, Batman (1989) and Batman Returns (1992), or The Crow (1994), but then neither does it have the two-dimensional lack of depth of Spawn (1997) or either of Joel Schumachers Batman abominations Batman Forever (1995) and Batman & Robin (1997).
Star Wesley Snipes also produces Blade via his Amen Ra production company. One finds it hard though to understand Wesley Snipes appeal as an actor. The man keeps coming across as thick every time he appears on screen. Whenever he does well in a part in the likes of Jungle Fever (1990) and Rising Sun (1993) it is because there is a good script on his side. Stephen Norrington seems to realize the limitations of Snipes talents and works with it, giving him minimal dialogue and shooting everything he does as a stylised pose. He gives, for example, Snipes a fabulous entrance slowly panning up from his boots to show him impressively decked out in shades, gleaming trenchcoat and black body armour. On the other hand, whenever Snipes removes his sunglasses and talks, the character seems to lose much of its dark mystique the effectiveness of the character is a triumph of style over acting talent. On the other hand, Stephen Dorff, although he does adequately, seems miscast as Deacon the part requires someone into their thirties at least and Dorff comes across as far too youthful. Kris Kristofferson is okay and NBushe Wright gives a promising performance that she should have turned into more of a career than she has.
Wesley Snipes, Kris Kristofferson and David S. Goyer reteamed for two sequels, the excellent Blade II (2002) and Blade Trinity (2004), both of which are better films than this. Blade was also spun out into a tv series Blade: The Series (2006), executive produced by Goyer and with Sticky Fingaz in the title role, although this was cancelled partway through its first season after only 12 episodes.
Stephen Norrington next went onto direct a further comic-adaptation with The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003), featuring a team-up between characters from Victorian fiction. That proved an enormously problem ridden production with much of the blame being heaped on Norringtons shoudlers. He was briefly announced as director of the remake of Clash of the Titans (2010) and the long-rumoured remake of The Crow (1994) but was replaced in both cases.
David S. Goyers others genre scripts are: the Jean-Claude Van Damme action film Death Warrant (1990), Full Moons Demonic Toys (1992) and Arcade (1994), the alien body snatchers film The Puppet Masters (1994), the stunning Dark City (1998) and Jumper (2008) about a kid with teleportation abilities, as well as other comic-book adaptations like The Crow: City of Angels (1996), Nick Fury, Agent of Shield (tv pilot, 1998), Batman Begins (2005), Batman: Gotham Knight (2008), The Dark Knight (2008), The Dark Knight Rises (2012), Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (2012), Man of Steel (2013) and Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016). Goyer has also produced the genre tv series Sleepwalkers (1997) about dream researchers, FreakyLinks (2000) about paranormal investigators, Threshold (2005) about the investigation of a UFO, the film adaptation of the Marvel Comic Ghost Rider (2007), the tv series Flash Forward (2009-10) about a mysterious worldwide premonition, the tv series DaVincis Demons (2013-5) about a fantastical secret history of Leonardo Da Vinci, the tv series adaptation of Constantine (2014-5) and the ghost story The Forest (2016). As director, Goyer has made the fine non-genre ZigZag (2002) about a troubled autistic kid, Blade Trinity, The Invisible (2007) about a disembodied teenager and the possession film The Unborn (2009).
(Nominee for Best Makeup Effects at this sites Best of 1998 Awards).