Priest - Review



Since Blade got released, there wasn't any other vampire hunter for me that was able to top him (and yes! not even that "Underworld" shit with Kate Beckinsale and that blue frog dude). I never before heard about the manga called priest, which featured vampire hunting priests in a dystopian future. It first caught my attention with the first trailer of the live action adaptation "Priest" with Paul Bettany. At first sight, i wasn't convinced the least. It looked like another average cheap over the top action flick with overrealiance on 3D and CGI effects.
But to give you a fair and honest opinion, i had to actually watch it.



The plot:
"Priest" is set in an alternate world - one ravaged by centuries of war between man and vampires. The story revolves around a legendary warrior Priest (Paul Bettany) from the last Vampire War who now lives in obscurity among the other downtrodden human inhabitants in walled-in dystopian cities ruled by the church. When his niece is abducted by a murderous pack of vampires, Priest breaks his sacred vows to venture out on a quest to find her before they turn her into one of them. He is joined on his crusade by his niece's boyfriend, a trigger-fingered young wasteland sheriff, and a former warrior Priestess (Maggie Q) who possesses otherworldly fighting skills.

Basically there's not much wrong with the movie's plot itself. It is a typical rescure journey. Unfortunately director Scott Stewart seemed to have forgotten that the JOURNEY ITSELF is the really important part of the entire experience. It has to be a big adventure which...but ok let's start a bit earlier:
The movie starts out very rushed. We are way too quickly introduced into a situation in which the priests fight vampires in a hive, when suddenly Karl Urban doesn't make it out alive...WABAM!--> title: PRIEST!
The introduction is neither focused enough to give us decent action nor does it manage to give us first hints of what each character is like.
The intro is completed by a really awkward cartoon style prequel story to give us some knowledge about the backgrounds. That idea itself was quite good and featured some nice battle scenery but why goddamnit didn't they shoot all of this in live action?! Obviously director Scott Stewart wanted to be artsy. Big waste of good ideas.
So much for the sucky intro itself. I especially wanted to go into detail here because the introduction pretty much sums up the movie's character: --> it tries way too hard to be a cool stylized vampire hunting flick with a hyper rushed pace that kills off every kind of character development.

There's not really much that can be said about either one of the characters. As i already mentioned, character development is non-existent here. Therefore there are enough action movie clichees throughout the entire flick: from "classic" lines like "they say you are the best when it comes to hunting vampires." to carpboard-cut-out characters, everything's there, to make this movie even more blande and uninteresting. The acting is best described as over-the-top AND soulless. It felt like the actors didn't even give a crap about giving us a convincing character. The bad acting especially includes the overly deep batman-style voice of Karl Urban (uuuh creepy), the blande badass priest himself AND his lame stupid ass sidekick Hicks (that blonde guy from the first twilight movie...OH MY GOD! WHAT A COINCIDENCE!! THAT DUDE IN ANOTHER VAMPIRE FLI...nevermind.)

MAYBE this all would have been ok if the action was alright, right? I mean this is probably the main reason why people pay money to see this. The action is terribly lame. If you've seen the trailers for "Priest" than you didn't miss anything. Most of the movie consists out of these specifically short action scenes that are already in the trailers or of the clicheed dialogues, which are boring as hell.
A big aspect WHY the action is very lame (despite being too short) is that the priests themselves feel way too overpowered compared to the vampires. The priests never get a single scratch from fighting these things...maybe because the movie obviously doesn't care about any laws of physics. The actors are doing kung fu moves like they are in the freakin matrix. I mean how often can Paul Bettany fall off a fast moving train without breaking a bone?!
It all gets topped by a very underwhelming and boring climax that kind of rips-off the Mad Max movies.
BORING is probably the best word to describe the entire 80 MINUTE experience (did i mention this flick also is pretty short?!).
Also i never exactly got WHY Paul Bettany is said to be the strongest and best priest. We never see him kick enough ass to really convince us. Maggie Q as Priestess OBVIOUSLY is the far better priest with more skill. She kicks ass all the time and rarely says anything. Everytime we see Paul Bettany, he either tries to talk someone to death or kill one vampire...sometimes even OFFSCREEN! Yeah...because priestesses can't be the no.1 or what?! sexist fucks.

The only thing that i liked about priest was the sheer concept of the entire dystopian future world. The Blade Runner-style church city with jedi-priests fighting vampires sure is a very cool idea. It definately gives motivation to read the actual mangas to get a better look into this world.
(Although i thought it was kind of weird that the vampires looked like ghouls, lived in hives and got a queen...like in aliens?!)

All in all, "Priest" is an ultimate failure in almost every way possible. I maybe should have trusted my feelings and instincts which told me that every movie featuring Paul Bettany and Karl Urban in a leading role are destined to be crap, but well, i have to be fair and watch the movie first to give an ultimate opinion. Like "Legion", Scott Stewart tries way too hard to make "Priest" a cool badass movie. The formula is "style over substance" with the main focus on the effects and the slow motion (and 3D).
The thing is that this movie HAD potential. The source material has many interesting ideas which the movie completely DIDN'T use or use in the wrong way. When it comes to kicking Blade off of the vampire killer throne you have to look elsewhere. Don't see this waste of money and time called "Priest".


Final Verdict: 2 out of 10

 

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