Friday, March 23, 2012


Priest (2011)

I had a feeling that this would be awful but I'm a sucker for vampire movies (no pun intended) so I went for it. And, you know, this wasn't awful. There's a bitchin animated sequence at the beginning which runs through the backstory - humans and vampires have been warring since the beginning of time. Humans, facing almost certain extinction, cloistered themselves in huge walled cities ruled by the church (makes sense) and defended by an elite order of superhuman Priests (they kick ass for the lord!), who worked themselves out of a job by eradicating vampires, and were then disbanded.

The movie goes downhill from there. The plot, such as it is, revolves around a former Priest (Paul Bettany) whose niece (Lily Collins) is kidnapped by vampires. Against the wishes of the Pope (Christopher Plummer), he ventures out into the wasteland to rescue her and stop the coming vampocalypse or whatever.

I wanted to like this movie, I really did. That's part of the problem with it. I've never seen a movie that is so bad but maddeningly full of potential. It could have been so fucking cool. The world (a sort of post apocalyptic alternate reality of our own) is well conceived and interesting. The part set in the city was neat, reminiscent of Bladerunner or THX 1138.

The art direction was pretty good, the movie looked great when it wasn't too dark to see (this is one of those dark movies I'm sad to say). The vampires in particular were really cool. They weren't suave, or sexy, or human, at all.

O hai
They looked like some thought went in to their design. They don't need eyes, they've got big ol' fangs for biting, they secrete slime to build hives, they got a bunch of dudes who look like Marilyn Manson to guard them and most importantly, they got Karl Urban.

Wait, no.

Anyway, it seems like a whole lot of work went into this movie (apparently it shares almost nothing with the comics, they came up with new stuff for this), and I give it an A for effort, I really do. It's got Brad Dourif in it. And that's awesome.

But you know, I had two major problems with the movie. Firstly, why Paul Bettany? His character is supposed to be from the American midwest I guess, so he's got an American accent which just doesn't sound right. Seriously, why cast an Englishman in that role? Yeah, he looks the part but surely he's played enough clergy members by now (I can think of two other movies off the top of my head). Probably if the character had been British they would've cast Keanu Reeves or some shit.

Aaaaand the plot is painfully predictable. It's not even funny, it's just sad. Like whoever wrote the thing didn't understand what a cliche was and just went for every one in the book. I swear to god, I called every fucking thing that happened in the movie in the first fifteen minutes and I'm not all that sharp. I'm not exaggerating, either. There were only two things I got wrong: I thought that the Priest would make the ultimate sacrifice and give his life to save the girl at the end (which he didn't, he totally lived) and I thought that Christopher Plummer was secretly working for the vampires (nope, he was just sending assassins after Priest to be a dick).

When a movie is that easy to predict, it leaves me feeling so dissatisfied. I could have written this movie in my head without even trying. And like I said it's especially offensive because this movie had the potential to be really awesome but failed miserably. On top of that, it doesn't even end properly. It leaves the ending wide open for the sequel.

The only time you should leave a movie open for a sequel is if you already have the sequel in pre-production at the very least. Because if your plan is to make a movie that's so great it'll make a shitload of money to fund the sequel, it's not going to work. Chances are, your movie is not as good as you think it is, you're not going to make enough money, and the open ending of the "first" movie is just going to seem dumb and unfinished.

There, hopefully that works and filmmakers stop doing that shit.


Directed by: Scott Stewart.  Written by: Cory Goodman, inspired by the comics by Min-Woo Hyung.  Starring: Paul Bettany, Karl Urban, Cam Gigandant, Maggie Q, Lily Collins, Brad Dourif, Christopher Plummer.

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