I always found it funny how people never seem to go to church until faced with extinction (or on Easter and Christmas). Imagine a world where the church rules society because it has the only weapon capable of truly protecting you and I am not referring to the holy hand grenade. Enter the world of Priest, where “bless me father” pretty much translates to “please save my ass from monsters.” The monsters in this case are vampires and sunlight was not enough to stop them. Modern warfare was not enough to stop them. Literally, nothing short of an act from God could even begin to save the people in this story.
Paul Bettany is “Priest.”
Our story has no defined beginning. The narrator explains that as far back as history can tell there has always been man and there have always been vampires. Vampires kill and man struggles to survive their onslaught. As with any war, man developed better weapons over time until he reached the nuclear age. You can tell that some of the landscapes used to be where the oceans were. Humans nearly destroyed the planet and themselves with it, and it still wasn’t enough to get rid of the vampires. Then came the priests, the only beings capable of driving back the vampire menace. It is not clearly explained how they got their powers. Maggie Q’s character was trained from about eight years of age, whereas Paul Bettany’s character did not become a priest until adulthood. The only thing we know is that they make short work of vampires. Normal humans can barely touch vampires unless they are getting torn apart by them.
The vampires in Priest are not your standard fare. They have no eyes, they are completely inhuman and with the exception of the queen, they bear no resemblance whatsoever to bats.Only two vampires in the film ever walk on two feet and one of them is the queen. The drones hunt in packs like wolves and live in hives like insects. the onside of the hives resemble both ant and bee colonies. Their bodies secrete a mucus that is used in building up the hive and making tunnels within. These things were big, mean and pretty disgusting. More than anything, they reminded me of Aliens. If you see one, you’re screwed; if you see a pack of them, there aren’t enough bad words to describe what you are. Despite a distinct departure from the bloodsuckers we are used to, these vamps fit in very well with the story.
Paul Bettany does a good job playing the role of the “quiet badass” Priest, allowing his actions to speak louder than his words. He is sort of a holy version of Clint Eastwood in his old westerns. Maggie Q is no stranger to action and if you haven’t seen this first season of Nikita, you should probably get on that now. The Priestess kicks the most ass in this movie. The interaction between Q & Bettany is limited, but it helps drive the story and will probably make for plot devices in the sequel. Cam Gigandet does the majority of the talking in this movie and despite having a few decent scenes, I just could not bring myself to really care about his character. He’s the hotshot sheriff out to save his girlfriend, blah, blah, blah. Lily Collins’ character , named “Lucy” is said girlfriend and her only real purpose was to be an attractive plot device. I really did not care about her fate either. Karl Urban was cool as “Black Hat,” but his presence in the movie was unnecessary. They wanted to put a face on the bad guy, since the vampires have none and that is literally the only reason he was there. Still, he made the ending exciting. All this movie really needed in terms of characters was Bettany, Q and a buttload of CG vamps for them to kill.
Priest is a bit of a mixed bag for me. I liked it overall, but I have several gripes. The 3D was very well done and is worth seeing on this movie, if only once, but as usual, it is not a deal breaker. If you saw it in 2D, it is not like you are missing anything. The story itself is a bit of a gripe – it is almost a complete departure from the source material. I could write a whole article just on how Priest the movie differs from Priest the comic. Here is another example of Hollywood almost completely abandoning the source material, but this time the final product turns out to be enjoyable. That said, there is so much more that could have been done with this new take on vampire mythology. I would hope this gets explored in the sequel, but that is wishful thinking. Priest had a budget of roughly sixty million and after only two weeks in the box office it is out of the top five and has only grossed about fourteen million. Sadly, the movie’s poor returns may prevent a sequel from happening. The film fails to deliver as a horror flick and that is because once again Hollywood slaps a PG-13 rating on what should have been an R-rated movie, especially considering the source material. Check out Priest if you want to see a good alternative action flick. I support this flick in the hopes that there will be a sequel and that the makers go a lot deeper with the story.