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PRIEST (2011)

>> Friday, May 13, 2011

Paul Bettany - the new poster child for the Vatican.

Being that today is Friday the 13th doesn't help a movie like Priest, which definitely could have used any help it could get. Priest however, is the first movie that I've seen this year where I'm unsure how to rate it. While Priest undoubtedly has some cool moments, I'm not sure what exactly it's trying to do. If anything, one could predict that the film is nothing more than a prologue for what Screen Gems is hoping will be a successful franchise. However, after seeing the first installment, I'm more than doubtful we're going to be seeing Priest 2 anytime soon.

Paul Bettany (Legion) plays Priest, an unnamed man who's set out to save his daughter from the vampires - who since the dawn of time have been terrorizing man and forced them into barridcaded cities run by the church. Previously, Priest was a warrior for the church who used him as a means of forcing all the vampires onto reservations. Once Priest was finished the job, the church then returned him to the status of a normal man - forced back into a regular, drab life (and feared by many).

In order to save his daughter, Priest teams up with law man Hicks (Cam Gigandet) and former fellow vampire hunter, Priestess (Maggie Q). The three of them head off across the post-apocalyptic desert in search of the man who's responsible for the kidnapping - Black Hat (Star Trek's Karl Urban). One can argue that with the names these characters carry (Priest, Black Hat) this whole plot may be lacking imagination, and you wouldn't be wrong. The names are actually a perfect indication of just what to expect in Priest.

When The Matrix was released in 1999 (followed by the sequels in 2003), it was clear the films had a religious undertone. In Priest, the religion is under-toned by The Matrix. There's actually very few action sequences in the film that won't remind you of a Wachowski way of things. There's even a scene that takes place on top of a moving train that's incredibly similar to the semi-trailer fight that took place in The Matrix Reloaded. It's not just The Matrix either, you'll find bits and pieces of almost every movie that relates to post-apocalyptic futures, religion, vampires, etc. within this film. Maybe that's the problem with Priest, just as the character names are unoriginal - so is the plot within reference to any original devices. Also, if the barricaded church city isn't a blatant rip-off of 1984, than there's a huge coincidence at hand.

When it comes down to it, Priest gets a closed door. Most people I spoke to after the movie really only had one thing to say about it - "It was alright...". Is something that's just alright worth the $10-14 you'll pay to see it in 3D? Not at all, really. In fact, when it comes to the 3D in Priest, it's a decision that should have been rethought (as is the case with many recent 3D flicks). There's far too many badly lit scenes in the film that being forced to use a pair of 3D glasses only makes it harder to see whats on the screen. Then again, in a film like Priest - maybe it doesn't matter as you ain't missing much anyway.

* Stills courtesy of Screen Gems


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