Priest (Blu-ray Review)

You wanted some non-sparkling vampires, well now you got them!  Priest is the latest graphic novel-to-film-adaptation to hit the big screen with a pretty strong and familiar cast.  The original graphic novel is Korean and was created by Hyung Ming-woo.  The cast of Priest is comprised of Paul Bettany, Karl Urban, Cam Gigandet, Maggie Q., Stephen Moyer, and Christopher Plummer.  Now with a cast like that how does Priest fare on Blu-ray?  Will you be able to sink your fangs into Priest or will it have you craving for the early morning dawn to turn you into ash?  Let us enter the world of Priest and find out! 



Priest is the story of a sect of priests who are commissioned by the church to find and exterminate the vampire hives throughout the world.  It seems that in this post apocalyptic world man and vampire have been going at it for centuries.  It’s not until the church takes the steps of building these tall and enclosed cities away from where the vampires congregate.  Those that choose to live in the wasteland are allowed to do so, but at their own risk.

The priest with no name (Paul Bettany) is a bit of a brooder, because he is still upset that the priest guardians have been disbanded, and for all intent and purposes, black listed.  Yep, even in the future if you have that whole “I used to kill vampires for a living for the church” on your resume, you still can’t get a regular job.  That, or it may have something to do with the permanent facial tattoo of a cross going down your forehead that hinder your job prospects.

After a flash wave of vampires led by the sadistic Black Hat (Karl Urban), the priest with no name must take arms with the local Sheriff (Cam Gigandet) in order to rescue his niece.  The priest’s niece, that is.  Of course the church and Monsignor Orelas (Christopher Plummer) will not authorize this mission, so the priest and company join up with some fellow out-of-work priests led by the hot leather-clad female priest known as…Priestess.  Um, yeah, Priest meet Priestess.  *scratches head*

Will they be able to stop Black Hat’s army of savage vampires or will the church have the final word?  I knew of the graphic novel to Priest, having flipped through it many years ago, and always thought it was cool and that it would make a good film or television series.  Well ten years later and it seems that this is all they could muster up.  Can you say facepalm?  The graphic novel wasn’t even about vampires.  It had a more epic and Biblical scale to it, because it dealt with angels and demons, creatures, and beasts.  Since everyone is cashing in on the whole vampire craze it was obvious that this incarnation of Priest would focus on just that.  BORING!

Yes, Priest is a complete bore of a film.  Watching this great cast spout out their verbose dialogue with a straight face didn’t make me laugh itt just made me stare at the screen while I quietly judged it in frustrated silence.  It’s a shame, because Priest meshes the worlds of horror, science fiction, and steampunk  in a seamless way, but it’s too bad that the script and the short length of the film bring it way down.  Priest runs a shameful 80 minutes WITHOUT credits.  Seriously.  The editing is garbage, as well.  There’s a really cool animated intro, but the editing is so bad and choppy it only serves as a distraction.  The vampires look weird.  In fact, they reminded of the white Isz from Sam Keith’s The Maxx. How many people remember that comic book and animated show?  The vampires are these elastic cgi creations with no eyes.  Again, so much potential, but the script and direction kill it. If you really want to experience the world of Priest then read the graphic novels.



Priest is presented in 1080p 2.40:1 widescreen.  Priest is a cold and dark film when taking place in the city.  Skin tones do not look particularly natural, because everything is lit too coldly.  This isn’t bad, because it’s an aesthetic choice that goes perfectly with the mood of the whole thing.  Where skin tones flourish is out in the wasteland outside of the city’s walls.  The sun comes down hard on everyone and you can see the crusted blood flakes on the humans and on the familiars running about in the desolate outposts.  Sharpness levels are consistent as are grain levels.  Softness does creep up a bit especially during close ups of the vampire brood.  Since they’re all cgi they do suffer from added motion blur, as well.  Overall, Priest sports a very above average video presentation that forgives some of the minor faults in favor of overall quality.  There is balance here.    



Priest is presented in DTS-HD MA 5.1.  Here is a track that had all the beginnings of a winner until the vampires started to screech and scream.  You may have to turn the dial down a notch when the waves of bloodthirsty vamps hit the screen, because their high screaming and screeching will make you go deaf.  I understand that they were created to be more animal like, but this is extreme overkill.  Silence is golden.  The good news is that Paul Bettany’s stoic man of the cloth portrayal comes through in all its audible glory.  Dialogue is clear and without hints of distortion, as are the many bullets, weapons, explosions, and the various other things that bang, bang.  If it weren’t for the sound design used on the vamps this would have been of reference caliber. 

Special Features

Priest includes a small helping, if bland, features which don’t really add all that much to the film.  Considering the film is awful, you do have the requisite praise that is heaped on the film and actors/crew involved with bringing it to the big screen.  If anything, I would say that the production design featurettes are the real stars of this special edition package.

  • Deleted and Extended Scenes
  • The Bloody Frontier: Creating the World of Priest
  • Tools of the Trade: The Weapons and Vehicles
  • Filmmakers and Cast Commentary
  • Blu-ray Exclusives: Bullets and Crucifixes: Picture-in-Picture Experience


Final Thoughts 

Is there anything in Priest that makes it worth sitting through?  Yes, but just one thing.  Maggie Q. as the warrior Priestess.  She’s just hot in her leather clad outfit.  She can swing her exotic weaponry at me anytime.  Karl Urban is another cool cat, but wasted in his role as is everyone else that is involved.  There are times where I grade a film based solely on style over substance, but not even Priest’s style can save it.  With the exception of the strong video and audio specs this is one to avoid or rent it, if you must.  



Order Priest on Blu-ray!


2 Responses to “Priest (Blu-ray Review)”

  1. Gregg

    There’s not much more I can add here as far as the film rating is concerned. This was a terrible piece of film making to see in the theater (or anywhere as you point out). It was a complete bust from beginning to end. I pretty much gave up on this movie a little before the halfway mark, though I stayed til the end. The intro animation was one of the best parts and your Maggie Q was my Lily Collins. When we do our year-end articles on the best & worst films of 2011, this could very possibly get a mention and it’s certainly not for the first category.

  2. Gerard Iribe

    I hear you, Gregg. What makes it even worse is that I wanted to like the bloody thing, but there was no way around it. The way things are going now, I wouldn’t doubt that Priest will make all of our worst of lists in a couple of months.