Cast: Paul Bettany, Maggie Q, Karl Urban, Cam Gigandet
Priest is the perfect example of how a movie begins to suck simply because it’s been in development for too long. It is a weird western “supernatural” film set in a post apocalyptic world, wrecked completely by the supposed centuries of war between man and vampires (here, the vampires aren’t your Twilight ‘pretty’ but gory little creatures that keep popping up everywhere).
Based on a Korean manhwa (comic) of the same name, the movie, Priest might piss off the larger Christian community with the gross misinterpretation of the cross and the anti-clergy sentiments.
Even the writers were probably so bored; they didn’t care giving names to their characters. The Warrior is called Priest, the female warrior is called Priestess (‘cause, well y’know, she’s a female) and the enemy is called Black Hat (‘cause, well y’know, he wears a black hat). There is A LOT of material in this film that either makes no sense or has been used so often already that you don’t want to take anymore.
Set in an alternate universe where Man and vampire have been natural enemies for eons, the ‘Jedi Knights’ of the church – ‘Priests’ were specially trained to combat and destroy the vampires and their ‘Hives’ and force them into controlled ‘reservations’. With the Vampire Wars finally coming to an end, these priests are forced into obscurity, until the niece,(‘Lucy’/Lily Collins) of one of the priests (Paul Bettany) is kidnapped by a pack of rogue vampires. The Priest must now be forced to break his vows to save his niece and avenge the death of his brother. He is joined by Lucy’s boyfriend, a gun slinging, smooth-talking wasteland sheriff (‘Hicks’/Cam Gigandet) and the priestess played by Maggie Q , who like the priest posses otherworldly vampire killing powers. They soon discover that the vampire attack was a part of grander scheme by the mysterious ‘Black Hat’.
Scott Stewart should have known better than to make a film like this. Returning from the mediocre success of ‘Legion’ (2010), in Priest Stewart seems to do what he does best: visual effects. The overall look of the film bears resemblance to the Matrix, Aliens vs. Predators, Resident Evil and I AM LEGEND. In fact, the vampires are a cross between monsters from I AM LEGEND and Voldemort. They move like werewolves and scream like a bitch. So what are they really? Thank god, they don’t sparkle like Edward Cullen. The intriguingly short runtime of 87 mins makes you wonder if the film probably had some substance to it before they decided to leave it all at the editing suite. The cinematography tries to make its presence felt but barely manages to do so. The visual design was the only impressive thing as it showed the desolate, ravaged landscapes rather beautifully. As expected from Stewart, the CGI and visual effects are above par, which makes watching this movie in 3D a treat. Being the visual effects developer for movies such as Sin City, Iron Man, Grindhouse and Pirates of the Carribean: Dead Man’s Chest, Stewart should perhaps stick to VFX and leave the directing to the professionals.
The lighting is pretty standard to most post apocalyptic vampire slaying films. The ‘Walled Cities’ were lit like ‘The Matrix’- eerily inhuman with lots of LEDs which seemed to go perfect with the cyber punk churches, the outskirts of the cities had a bleached, wild west look which was pretty cool and the underground battles with the vampires are AS ALWAYS dark, dingy and dusty. The makeup, costume and props is definitely something we haven’t seen before. Especially, the crucifix themed weaponry and the cross tattoo across the faces of all priests.
The film is so vague and messy that it gets stuck between being an action/drama/horror flick but ends up being none. The weak plot teamed with a really cliché script and super bad acting makes you wish you had saved that money. Don’t let the intriguing trailer get to your head. The film will only suit your taste if you’re going for mindless entertainment and visual appeal. It’s not meant for the more sophisticated film viewer. With a weak script and lukewarm acting, it wouldn’t be the greatest tragedy if you miss this supposed sci-fi /action/horror/drama/whatever.