‘Priest’ Offers Few Blessings

During a recent discussion with a like-minded comic book aficionado, my conversing counterpart referred to vampires as ‘cupcakes’, citing the popularity craze over both in mainstream media. Apparently cupcakes are the current hip dessert, and vampires, likewise, are the current hip supernatural flavor. With that in mind, the latest fang-bearing craze to arrive in the cinema is Priest starring Paul Bettany.  Bettany seems to be a magnet for being cast in religious films which include The Da Vinci Code and last year’s Legion.

Needless to say, both of those movies could serve as cures for insomnia with an especially large emphasis on Da Vinci Code‘s sleep-inducing delivery. So how does this late spring arrival stack up?  Before we sort that out, lets cover the basics of Priest.  The film is based on the graphic novel by Korean artist Hyung Min-woo, who conjured up imagery from the darkness of vampires and the grit of the old west with a pinch of sci-fi thrown in for good measure.  In addition, I give the story credit for taking vampire lore in an unconventional direction from what we’ve been fed all along.  There are no armies or societies of human vampires.  Instead, these quadrupedal creatures roam the darkness without the use of eyes and illicit a behavior more like a blood-thirsty beast in the wild than a sly homosapien blending in amongst the rat race masses.  Forget garlic and heartbound stakes.  These hungry heathens are only susceptible to sunlight and a well-timed gutting.

To overcome this breed of death, the Church trained soldiers of unimaginable skill.  With an arsenal that would make a ninja gawk, these warriors of the cloth set forth to cleanse the land of vampires.  But just when all was said and done and the priests retired to the normality of society, a new threat arose.  Led by the cunning foe known simply as Black Hat (Karl Urban), the uprising launches itself upon an unsuspecting society.  The church oversees pretty much all of society and everyday functions, which include televised confession and security within their walled fortress cityscape that brings back memories of Blade Runner.  But hey, just like the real world Vatican, corruption looms within the recesses of their religious fabric.

Bettany seems to do well in the “walk soft carry a big stick” role.  In Priest, he finds comfort in the wing-man, or should I say wing-woman who is known as, get this, Priestess (played by Maggie Q).  I bet the writers stayed up all night on that one.  Hey I’m making a movie about police.  You get to be the character called Cop.  What would’ve happened if there were two male priests leading this film?  Imagine the confusion amongst us poor movie-goers!  Anyway, Priest and Priestess (I mean, I just can’t take that seriously as I write this) head out on their trepidatious journey to bring back one of Priest’s kidnapped relatives played by the very lovely Lily Collins (The Blind Side). Other notables in the film include Stephen Moyer (True Blood), Cam Gigandet (Burlesque) as Sheriff Hicks, snake oil salesman Brad Dourif who may be best known for his role as Grima Wormtongue in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and last but not least, the great Christopher Plummer (The Sound of Music) as Monsignor Orelas.

However, with all those names, some new to the industry, some seasoned vets, they still couldn’t save an otherwise stagnant story.  There were brief moments of swift action and wicked weapons, but these scenes were outnumbered by the less illustrious visions of a limping delivery that went nowhere fast.  I tried all my mutant abilities to hurry this film along.  Sadly, it continued to trod along at a snail’s pace no matter how much I willed it to go quicker.  The occasional action sequence and scene with Lily Collins rescued (at times) an otherwise boring movie.  Still, it was an improvement over last year’s Legion which had comical effects that were most likely unintended by its director.  Despite some Jedi-like abilities by the priests, there wasn’t a lot of silliness in this film, just a lot of dialogue that wasn’t developing much of anything.  I passed on the 3D version, opting instead for traditional 2D, though I don’t think the added effect would have contributed much to the overall experience.  If you truly must see this movie, I suggest waiting until its video release.

2 out of 5



9 Responses to “‘Priest’ Offers Few Blessings”

  1. Aaron Neuwirth

    Just when I thought I couldn’t be more excited to see this movie…

  2. Gerard Iribe

    Ouch. I hear the film is only 80 minutes as well. Not good.

  3. Aaron Neuwirth

    Short and Sweet, just the way Mrs. Bettany likes it. (that’s a little harsh, I like Paul Bettany)

  4. Brian White

    My friend really wanted to see this so I inquired about the press screening. Yeah…turns out there were no press screenings. You know what that ALWAYS means. SUCK-O!

  5. Aaron Neuwirth

    Piranha didn’t have press screenings 😉

  6. Gerard Iribe

    Aaron, don’t get me started on that movie. You know how I feel about it.

  7. Aaron Neuwirth

    I know, but I know Brian loves it.

  8. Gregg

    Piranha 3D was awesome!!

  9. Jiminy Critic

    Jerry o’Connell doesn’t! ha!