Now in theaters
Directed by Scott Stewart
Based on a Korean graphic novel by Min-Woo Hyung (Ghostface), Priest attempts to bring the world of the comic to the big screen. However, in all fairness, I am not a comic book fan. I chose to see Priest in 2D, and I am relieved that I didn’t spend the extra few bucks on the third dimension.
Scott Stewart’s history included operating the FX house The Orphanage, he then directed his first film, Legion (a film I avoided), also starring Paul Bettany. I enjoyed his presence here; it brought a certain mystique to the film. He’s good at playing dark characters.
Interesting enough Gerard Butler was attached to play the title role, but I honestly can not imagine Butler playing this role. He’s too meaty of a guy and does not possess the look and feel that Bettany brings to the character. This film is Screen Gem’s most expensive production to date at $60 million, and it remains to be seen whether or not they will break even. The film has been in development since 2005 and has been delayed several times in order for the film to be converted to 3D.
Here, Paul Bettany plays a veteran warrior priest who breaks his vow to the Church, and searches for his kidnapped niece, Lucy, played by Lucy Pace, a relative newcomer. Priest hunts down the vampires responsible for kidnapping his niece. Without giving away too much of the plot which the trailer does not thankfully do, this story takes place in the future where the war between vampires and humans have ruined the world, and the Roman Catholic Church created island-like cities for humans and reservoirs for the last remaining vampires.
Priest’s decision to break his vow to the Church and to God, according to Monsignor Orelas (played by Christopher Plummer, who needs no introduction), causes him to ultimately be excommunicated. The film fails the audience here when it only uses Christopher Plummer in less than a handful of scenes (three to be exact). Plummer is a powerhouse actor who delivers lines like no one’s business, and deserved to have more time on screen.
Priest is joined by the wasteland’s sheriff, Hicks, played by Cam Gigandet (Twilight), and the dialogue between Priest and Hicks comes off as cheesy, lazy, and down-right silly, which ultimately cheapens the film.
Priest’s nemesis, Black Hat, played by Karl Urban (Stark Trek), brings the heat with his villainous smile and dangerously sexy charm. Urban does a fine job being the villain and without being too much of a spoiler, because I am an anti-spoiler by heart, the film’s predictable storyline cheated not only the audience, but Urban and his character. There seemed to be a back story between the two that could have been, should have been, or would have been but was ultimately devoured by vampires – and I’m not talking about the ones in the movie.
The opening scene does a nice job of explaining the war between the two races: vampires and humans. At the same time, it satisfies graphic comic fans. The score itself, written by Christopher Young (Hellraiser, Drag Me to Hell), came off too strong and derivative. The vampires themselves were too CG’d for my liking, but shots of the wasteland vistas were eye-popping. The ending leaves the story wide open for further sequels, of course. There were a few well-received cameos, one by the beautiful Madchen Amick (Sleepwalkers) and Brad Douriff (Child’s Play).
The bottom line is that Priest was an entertaining movie, but it ends up being more of a “wait for DVD” kind of flick; unfortunately, the movie fails to make the audience jump out of their seats even with cheap frights.
I am, strangely enough, secretly looking forward to a Priest II.