Director: Scott Stewart
Karl Urban/Black Hat
In an alternate future reality; an ass-kicking Priest (Bettany) turns his back on the Church (not God yo, the Church, there's is a difference) to go save his niece from the clutches of a vampire gang.
Scott Stewart's PRIEST is beyond loosely based on the challenging Korean comic series of the same name. Actually, apart from a butt whooping priest doing the butt whooping doo and genre bending ways; both incarnations have little in common with each other. And now after mucho release date push backs PRIEST has finally come to the celluloid altar to bless our asses with what its got. Was it worth the wait? Sadly, not really and it's too wipty freaking bad.
Movies like PRIEST frustrate the merde out of me. Why? Because the potential was there for it to be a fanboy's celluloid wet dream come through. And to see that wasted away like this is such a damn shame. I mean we got a cool, short on words, high on action lead hero, played to a T by Paul Bettany. Dude sold me in the role and even though the flick was meh, I'd be hip to a PRIEST sequel just to see him do his thing again. That's how much I loved him as the character. Moreover we're treated to an equally awesome villain, tackled gleefully by the great Karl Urban. A bad guy that deserved to be in a much better picture. Then we had the stand out set designs knocking it out of the park. The church, the small Cowboy like towns, the Blade Runner-ish city, the oppressive desert landscape... they all looked fantastic. The same loving was applied to the film's groovy gadget weapons (Ninja star crosses? Sold!), vehicles (dug them future motor bikes), the stand out visual effects (the CGI here was astounding), the vamps (chilling design) and the sweet genre bending ways. Am talking Horror, Western (Catch the Sergio Leone winks?), Action, Sci Fi...the motherf*cking works! And lets not forget the enthralling fight sequences that put the "motion" in slow motion loving. Pure awesomeness! Finally, this sucka held some potent cards on a story level. The initial premise screamed the John Wayne opus THE SEARCHERS (I read afterward that it was intentional) while some of the genre conventions owed a lot to ALIENS (vampire hives, a vampire queen, a character named Hicks...). Hey if you're gonna rip, rip from the best! So it all sounds kopasetic right? I say "with a Schwarzenegger accent"... WRONG!
With all that ammo in its clip, it blows my mind that PRIEST still missed the mark by a yard. How did that happen? Committee filmmaking? A studio puppet editor snipping away in between snorts? Or was it just a lousy script to begin with? Not sure, but somebody needs a healthy beating for it. Yup, although it had some good ideas and offered so much on an atheistic standpoint it did everything else in a vacuous and pedestrian manner. The bulk of the narrative was beyond cliched, the characters (yes even our hero) and relationships (what a waste of Maggie Q) were not even close to being fleshed out or explored enough and the promise at hand was shamelessly ignored. You're gonna have a vampire hive or a vampire queen? Run with that! Don't just hint at it and move on! Get the most out of it! You're gonna have scenes that should evoke suspense? Then make it happen! Don't just “boo” and leave it at that, take the time to generate tension, grab your audience by the throat and pummel them to death! You're gonna put out money fight sequences? Hey, I'm all for them! But don't have them be so seldom and so short when they finally go down! The last mano et mano aside; all of the action bits here capped off way too quickly for their own good. Unfortunately, the film also kept to that comatose approach with its interesting themes and parallels to social issues, modern and of old. If it had at least doubled down on the gore; it might have made its rushed, by the numbers and "skim the top" narrative go down smoother; but alas that was not to be either. There was more bloodshed in the animated prologue than the actual film itself... I guess cause it was animated...BAH!
So all in all, PRIEST was a letdown and the fact that it did so much right actually made it even worse for me. Bless this movie Father for it has sinned the biggest cinema sin of all; turning something cool and potentially exciting into just another average mind number. Recite three Hail Marys and hope for the best!
We're treated to a grisly animated opening, blood splats, a ripped out heart out, a knife in the throat and an exploding peep.
T & A
PRIEST brought its bag of goodies to the party, I'll give it that! A stellar cast, money on screen on every level, a fly eye behind the camera, bang-on mix of Western, Sci Fi, Action and Horror, solid production designs and effective fanged beasties to boot. Too bad it forgot the more important things. No, not the beer bong, I mean a story that went beyond the obvious and that exploited all that it had to offer. Characters, relationships, themes, shite even the conceivable for horror and action wasn't milked all the way here. Shame on ya! Hopefully the DVD will give us a better rounded film via a Director's Cut... but I doubt it... we'll see. As-is though; this ride was akin to hitting a strip club where the dames keep their clothes on... yeah... nough said...
At first Andrew Douglas was set to direct and Gerard Butler to star.
The film is so far Screen Gems most expensive (60 Million) production.
I case you care; I did see it in 3D... don't bother. 2D would have been the same thing.