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Based on the long-running Korean comic of the same name, Priest is one
of those films that's been stuck in development hell for the last few
years, running a gauntlet of director and lead actor changes and more
recently, coping with a series of release date delays in order to
facilitate the inevitably shoddy post-production conversion to 3D
that's currently so beloved of mainstream cinema.
The added dimension isn't going to win any prizes - for the most part it is relatively pointless, and the world in which Priest takes place is not interesting enough to require any additional depth.
The ever-reliable Paul Bettany stars as the titular character. Stoic to the end, he's not your typical priest - more a deadly weapon, specialising in martial arts and weapons skills that make him the perfect killer. He exists in a time where vampires are a horrifying reality, battling humans for control of a conflict-ridden, barren wasteland punctuated only by large, soulless, church-controlled cities where humans live only for their faith and 'an honest day's labour'.
You don't watch films like this expecting an Oscar-winning tale, and action-wise, Priest is fairly solid, packing in a series of high-octane fights and chases for its duration. Helmer Scott Stewart knows where to put a camera in order to maximise the impact upon the viewer, and the oil-slick manner in which everything is filmed shows a director moving away from his previous field as a visual effects specialist and having a decent stab at mastering his craft.
Unfortunately, there's not a lot going on when knives and bullets aren't being flung around - the supporting cast of Cam Gigandet, Maggie Q and Karl Urban are given next to nothing to do and the dialogue serves only to move the film along to its next set-piece. Story-wise, it's paper-thin, and it's difficult to care about the motivation of any character when the levels of emotion on display resemble that of Mount Rushmore.
It is also strangely edited - 87 minutes is very short for a film with this kind of budget, and there's all manner of blunt cuts that give credence to the theory that there was once a longer, potentially better film here.
So, was Priest worth the wait? Not particularly, but for all its faults, it certainly has promise. Depending on box office performance, it could really benefit from a deeper, beefed-up sequel along the lines of Blade II. The good news is that there's plenty of source material available for a return to this mythology - it's just a shame that it's as shallow as the film it's spawned.
A priest throwing crosses like throwing stars into a vampire caught my
Vampire meets post-apocalypse meets religious iconography meets Western. Staring Paul Bettany. I had the misfortune to see Legion and I've yet to forgive Mr. Bettany for participating in that wretched wince-fest. So given the actor and the genre, it's probably not going to be an Oscar-nominated type of film. But you know that the moment you saw the trailer.
As a Catholic (the orthodox type that grudgingly accepts Vatican II but mutters about 'the good old days' entirely tongue-in-cheek) it caught my eye. If you happen to be Catholic, every time you see a trailer for a movie where Catholicism is notably featured, you think to yourself 'Oh boy, how are they going to do a hack job that makes it out to be nothing like it actually is this time?'. Can't blame writers though, it's a religion that provides a deep, deep mine of interesting looking iconography and concepts (Apparently Catholic priests are the Ghostbusters of any movie that involves exorcism. You know who they're going to call. An old priest and a young priest.)
Interestingly enough, this film really... Doesn't involve religion. There's the iconography of Catholicism, a few words here and there, but there's really no actual religious content to the film. It's as if a tourist from another planet did a really in-depth one month tour of all things Catholic, but unable to understand the language, did the best job they could of representing it to their friends back home. The film doesn't denigrate Catholicism, it treats it more like a grab bag of 'ooo, that sounds / looks cool' material. It's a post-apocalyptic vampire western that involves characters that participate in a world where there's a State-run religion that is akin to Catholicism in a weird sort of 'parallel dimension where everyone has a goatee' type way. It's what you think you know, but not.
The movie itself is visually interesting. In many ways, it's similar to Event Horizon - another film where a concept wrapped in bad dialog with little to no sane plot caught the viewer's eye with interesting imagery.
Do you like vampires? Do you like westerns? Do you fancy a post-apocalyptic world? Does religion intrigue you, but in a 'not enough to be serious about it' way?
This is your film. It's not a bad film. It's not a great film. If you like certain things, like I do - vampires, vampire killing in a kick-ass style and a certain visual je ne sais quoi, 'world view' that's unlike anything else out there, it's worth seeing.
People you shouldn't take with you to see the film: Serious boring types that get upset if there aren't things like 'good dialog', 'character development' or 'a plot that doesn't make you put your head in your hands'. Much like Ke$ha, it's one of those catchy things you would never admit to enjoying to anyone you respected.
If you happen to be Catholic, rest assured that it's not butchering the religion and presenting some horrific view of it that alienates all who would see it. That's because it doesn't understand religion, but hey (blame the material it's based on - eastern writers tend to have a really strange view of Catholicism and Christianity in general.)
See it in 2D if possible. Like any 3D film originally shot in 2D, the 3D isn't great. Not as bad as Alice, but Avatar it ain't. While rated PG-13, taking anyone who isn't in college or older to see it isn't going to add anything to their life at this point.
And, if you, like me, enjoy it - try not to mention that in respectable company and we can just nod at each other in passing, secure in the belief that not everything enjoyable under the sun needs to be Oscar-worthy material.
Priest was exactly what I'd hoped for... Visually stunning, great
action and fight scenes, decent effects - and in my case being a
red-blooded woman, plenty of eye candy. I don't go into these
sci-fi/action/monster movies expecting Oscar-caliber story and dialog,
so when critics pan these movies for that sort of thing, I just roll my
eyes and know I'll probably love it. Maybe that makes me simple, but I
go to the movies to escape reality not drown in more of it, so Priest
did the trick. I liked it enough to hope they get a sequel out of it.
Paul Bettany and Karl Urban both did a great job in their roles, as did Maggie Q. We were forced to see it in 3D because we missed the 2D show (but at least there was a choice). I tend to not care either way, and go for 2D over paying the '3D tax', but there were some aerial views that were pretty cool in 3D. If you dig dark, fun movies like 'Underworld,' you'll probably like Priest and like any dark, graphic-novel adaptation, it's worth seeing on the big screen for the imagery.
Priest opened last Friday in Spain.I went to the cinema without knowing the mange or the back story. I watched the trailer and I though the movie was going to be a Paul Anderson style post apocalyptic crap fest. Oh boy, how wrong I was. Yes there's "bullet-time" sequences in the action but that's not the point. The action scenes are well shoot and you can see clearly the movements and the characters.neat editing. It's like a superhero movie that rips on zombie movies, vampire movies, mad max movies, spaghetti western movies and a little bit blade runner too. Some of "Daybreakers" some of I am legend.But it works. It's not my kind of a movie but I found myself yelling and having fun all along its 87 minutes running. Yes, there's CGI creatures but the design of the monsters it's really cool. There's a very well done animated prologue and stunning sets and photography of the apocalyptic plain field.It's a decent comic book-action-western-horror film but don't expect deep on it.it's simple, effective and entertaining. Well done!
Don't get me wrong I'm not going to gush about how great this film was,
but to be fair it didn't insult my intelligence either and that's a big
plus for me when it comes to films these days. I purposely avoided
reading any literature in relation to the "story" of Priest to avoid
any bias or pointless expectations.
I wanted to judge it based on what was told in the film alone and honestly I have no complaints as far as the story development went, it was pretty straight forward with the plot, the characters were put into position early on, no dicking about with badly handled sub-plots and phony intrigue. I wouldn't consider this to be a pretentious movie in any way, it's says what it's about from the beginning and it doesn't deviate from that narrative, it doesn't bring in (or keep) useless characters, (unlike "Sucker Punch"), it's a gateway movie but it doesn't treat it's support characters like balsa wood cut-outs (i.e "Thor")
Sure there could have been more action but what action there was, was nicely done, visuals weren't eye popping gorgeous but suited the film none-the-less. This was a lean movie, no needless fluff no overly complex ungainly plot just a "wham bam thank you ma'am" type deal.
This is one of the rare times I'm looking forward to a sequel.
Visual effects developer-turned-director, Scott Stewart, delivers his
second supernatural action film that claims to be "adapted" from the
comic book "Priest". Supposedly based on a Korean comic or "manhwa" of
same name, the movie "Priest" has NOTHING to do with the original, not
even the name of the squinting "strong silent type" main protagonist
played by Paul Bettany. Fallen angels, deal with a demon, multiple time
frame story lines and all other interesting elements of the original be
damned. And perhaps it was for the better since the manhwa's multiple
story lines taking place in the Crusades, the old west and the future
would just confuse the heck out of everyone.
So they crafted a whole new premise to appeal to the superficial summer action lover. And the one thing they did right was to give us vampires that do not sparkle in the sunlight. These vampires are all teeth and claws who swarm across the world at night attacking from giant hives, a clear reference to the "Aliens" franchise. These savage beasts have been at constant war with mankind since the dawn of time. A beautifully bloody animated prologue sets the back-story of the film about how mankind's salvation came in the form of the Priests, holy warriors who battled the vampire hordes to near extinction.
This story revolves around one of the veteran priests who lives among the other downtrodden human inhabitants of a walled dystopian city ruled by the now totalitarian church. When he receives word that his niece was abducted by a murderous pack of vampires, the priest breaks his sacred vows to venture out of the city and rescue her. He is joined on his crusade by his niece's boyfriend, a young trigger-finger wasteland sheriff. But as the duo soon discover, reports of the vampires' return have been greatly understated. With a powerful yet familiar threat is leading the newly reformed vampire hordes, the wayward Priest and his companion must fend off supernatural foes and contend with a group of fellow Priests sent to hunt down their rogue brother.
"Priest" is one cliché storm of a film that commits the cardinal sins of a paper thin plot and forgettable characters thanks to the inexperience of first time writer Cory Goodman. The characters are so forgettable that the writer never even bothered to give many of them names. Paul Bettany's main character is just called "Priest" (It is not his name by the way). There is also "Black Hat" (because he wears a black hat) and "The Priestess" (because she is a female priest) just to name a few. They are less like actual characters and more like blank character archetypes thrown in for plot convenience. Archetypes like Cam Gigandet's hot headed Sheriff Hicks (a second reference to Aliens perhaps?) and Lily Collin's damsel in distress Lucy are just as forgettable even though they do have names.
Failing to provide interesting characters or a good story, the least the producers could do was to deliver a holy hell load of violence with a hard R or M18 rating. Sadly the animated prologue has more blood and guts than the entire film combined since most of the gorier battles take place in darkness or amid dust. The Fights are well choreographed but they tend to be more stylish than practical and sometimes border on illogical. For example, a duel on a high speed train is awesome but none of the combatants ever thought of kicking his opponent off the side? But despite these failings of the flesh, some salvation comes to "Priest" in the form of an excellent production design. From the dark cyberpunk inspired Church city to the post apocalyptic western towns dotting the hostile desert lands, great attention had been paid to make those places as believable as possible. Perhaps most memorable would be the tech on display in the film which includes futuristic motorcycles, tricked out shotguns and the Priests' arsenal of deadly cross-themed blade weapons.
Beyond the props, flawless visual effects and startling CGI, the movie tries as well to inject its narrative with deeper subtexts. The Priests themselves call to mind stories of War veterans who were shunned by society and unable to re-integrate, a theme made most famous in "Rambo: First Blood". The film also makes fun of how some churches twist their religion into a means of control, the hypocritical "holier-than-thou" attitude of modern Christians and their single minded belief that they remain "saved from evil" as long as they worship God. It is not intentionally "anti-Christian" or "anti-catholic". It is more of a clever satire but there will always be the more conservative ones who would cry sacrilege.
At only 87 minutes long, Priest moves at a brisk pace and at the very least it is not boring. It would no doubt entertain action junkies and fans of post apocalyptic thrillers although more time could have been spent developing the characters or delving into the underlying themes that were addressed. Priest is spectacular but soulless, with a nice looking "body" but barely enough "blood" and "spirit" to satisfy the more sophisticated movie goer.
6.5/10 Rounded down to 6
I loved Priest. It was a visually stunning piece of art, very beautiful
even in the post-apocalyptic world in which it was set. Each scene was
thoughtfully composed and really pulled you into the film... even
without that annoying 3D. (I saw it in 2D and completely loved every
second.) I've never read the comics so I didn't have any preconceived
notions about what I'd be getting into. The film's composition, pace,
story, and overall look are what drew me in, the characters kept me
there. Sure there were a few "surprises" that weren't really surprises,
but that's only because I don't think they were intended to be
surprises to the audience, only to other characters.
Karl Urban is awesome (all the time, not just in Priest ;)) and Paul Bettany is a quiet, understated hero in the title role. Even the music was gorgeous.
Highly recommended. =D
Love the actors, the concept, the genre, the fight scenes, and i want
maggie Q to have my baby....but this movie was only so-so.
It needed a better script i think. The story just seemed hollow. Everything they did, just seemed half finished. Paul, who i thnk is awesome, didn't seem to resonate with any of the other cast. It really was like this movie needed another hour to develop itself and them it would have been great.
Worth seeing, if you like action movies, but sadly, your not going to remember this movie by next month.
If you like a good scifi western, see serenity.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"Whatever you hear, don't scream".
This is the story of a man with a mission. A war hero who is forced once more to take up arms, put on his boots and take his valiant steed for one last charge against the enemy.
The movie starts with a manga clip that explains the history of the universe that we're about to witness. It is a violent history, where mankind has been at war with the Vampire Nation for many centuries, fighting for survival throughout the ages. First with knives, then with swords, then with guns, then with bigger guns, then with even bigger guns and finally with Priests - the most powerful fighting machine ever created. The Priests are the ultimate weapon, an elite force of formidable warriors with a special gift from God. Or was it from the Church? Not sure.
But then we come to the present time and... it is ugly. In no uncertain terms, this is one ugly movie. The colors are hideous, monotonous and... brown. Everything is brown. It is as if the art designer had no other color to use. Or he was angry with the producers (or with the audience, not sure who's the target of the joke here) and wanted revenge. Or something. I have never seen so much brown gathered in one place in my life.
The music is standard fare, not great but not completely inept, either. Just... forgettable. The direction is terrible and everything is filmed from the hip, so to say. There is no search for the perfect angle, there is no artistic vision, the framing is bad, there are no visual goodies, nothing. It is the work of a 10 year old with a camera. Come to think of it, even a 10 year old would have had a little more imagination.
The sets are limited and unidirectional, there is no dept to them, they are all made in a straight line, none of them has any room to go anywhere, to expand and take shape, there are no side streets and there are no corners. And the same could be said about the script. The story goes only one way and if it would turn one corner, just for once, it would fall off the edge of it's unidimensional world.
The actors are wasted and they should have avoided this mess of a movie. Paul Bettany is good, Karl Urban had not much to do or say about anything, Maggie Q was impressive, and it was nice to see Mädchen Amick again. For all of 2 minutes.
Priest. Terrible movie that makes you wonder: is this anti-Christian propaganda or what? 2/10. Only because Mädchen Amick is in it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
'Priest' could have been so good. Fine cast. Quirky premise. But the writer and director have brought it to us as a shameless rip-off of John Ford's classic "The Searchers", with Bettany and Gigandet covering the John Wayne and Jeffrey Hunter roles. This even includes the discovery of the lost doll in the sand. The basic dramatic convention of 'willing suspension of disbelief' is abused here to the point of absurdity. In fact, the writer and director render it impossible. The motorbikes outracing the speeding train? By miles? Stand up brawl on top of the speeding train? There is no exposition that is plausible. The action is pure comic book. Cam Gigandet's character is never developed. Nor is the Priestess. Christopher Plummer's arch-priest is set up as some sort of secret baddie, but we never see get to see 'if' and 'why'. Why continue. The action is utterly preposterous. The plot is never developed. Nor are the characters. This was an utter waste of money, even at bargain matinée prices. These actors will NEVER cite this film willingly in the future among their credits.
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