Sunday, January 15, 2012

Horror Film Review

Priest (2011):  I heard this movie wasn't very good.  The trailer, however, kicked butt, so I had to check it out for myself.  Warrior priests battling vampires that resemble goblins from Lord of the Rings in an apocalyptic alternate universe?  Yeah, I figured it was worth a look-see.

Since Priest is based on a graphic novel series, we get the backstory via comic book graphics.  Vampires and mankind have been warring since time began, leaving the planet decimated.  The church finally creates an order of pseudo-superhuman priests to confront the bloodsuckers and they're beaten back and locked away in reservations.  The church, by the way, controls all aspects of human existence (a slight dig and the Catholic Church, I believe) and its power-hungry mouthpiece is Monsignor Orelas (Christopher Plummer).  With the vampire threat apparently over, the priest order is disbanded, leaving the warriors adrift in a society that ostracizes them. 

Priest (Paul Bettany) learns vampires attacked an outpost where his brother's family is trying to eke out an existence as farmers (the radiation in the soil has finally dissipated enough to allow crop planting).  His niece Lucy (Lily Collins) is kidnapped by a former priest turned vampire known only as Black Hat (Karl Urban).  Black Hat has a beef with Priest as he blames him for leaving him behind in a vampire hive which led to the vampire queen turning him.  Did I mention there's a vampire queen?  Yeah, we see her only once and she looks like gigantic army ant.  Anyway, Lucy's boyfriend is outpost sheriff Hicks (Cam Gigandet) who comes to the big city to ask Priest for help.  Priest asks Orelas to reinstate the order to confront the new vampire threat but the monsignor refuses to accept the threat exists.  Priest goes anyway and Orelas orders four of Priest's fellow warriors to bring him back...dead or alive.  After some searching and skirmishes, Priest and Hicks discover Black Hat is driving a mile-long train filled with vampires straight toward the city.  With Lucy on board.  So along with Priestess (Maggie Q) who defies Orelas to lend a hand, Priest and Hicks race toward the train to rescue Lucy, defeat Black Hat, and save the city from certain doom. 

Have I ever mentioned I dislike fight sequences on top of moving trains?  Besides being a cliche, you never get a proper, balls-to-the-wall battle.  And they're always too short, which this one is.  I think that was my major complaint with Priest...not enough really decent one-on-one combat, and not enough carnage in general.  PG-13 was not the way to go with this source materiel.  The cinematography, on the other hand, is eye-popping.  The landscape shots are nothing less than breathtaking and those of the city are like the bastard child of Mad Max and Blade Runner.  By the way, Priest's motorcycle?  I want one.  It makes Batman's motorcycle look like a Big Wheel.


Acting:  Bettany is a bit too wooden.  Urban sneers a lot but doesn't quite ooze enough menace to be a believable bad guy.  Gigandet is the stand out here.  And Maggie Q is always watchable.
Story:  Call me kooky, but I like graphic novel adaptations.  They tend to be more than ordinary.
Direction:  There were a few missed opportunities, I felt.  And the 87 minute running time is too short for a movie of this scope.
Production Values:  Let me just say  The $60 million budget was used well.  I really want that motorcycle...
Gore/FX:  Well, there are some pretty gross things done with chickens.  The PG-13 rating prevents the gore we should have enjoyed.  Lots of CGI for the vamps, and it's all good.
Scares:  There's one "gotcha" jump shot, but they played it to death in the TV trailers so you'll know it's coming.
Ending:  A little too Hollywood.  I've never read the graphic novels, but I'll bet a dollar it shouldn't have been so...happy.
Verdict:  Should you see Priest?  It has its flaws, but I say yes.  I'd recommend it for the visuals alone.  And for the dude's motorcycle.  Seriously, I want that bike. 

My Rating:  3 out of 5 stars.

1 comment:

  1. I had mixed feelings about this movie. i think it ripped off some fighting scenes from Crouching Tiger and the priest-warrior with his voice, what is with that? Bettany can't pull off a lead role such as this or his fake voice, this role would of been more suited toward Ryan Reynolds or maybe Channing Tatum.

    It was too dark to see what was happening in most scenes and the director over did it with the jumping and flipping around as if the actors had one too many cups of coffee.

    I give this 2 out of 5 throwing "cross" stars.LOL