Priest (2011)

Action, Fantasy, Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller
Paul Bettany, Cam Gigandet, Maggie Q, Karl Urban
A priest disobeys church law to track down the vampires who kidnapped his niece.
Sleek and stylish, but those qualities are wasted on a dull, derivative blend of sci-fi, action, and horror.
  • Screen Gems/SONY PICTURES Company:
  • PG-13 Rated:
  • IMDB link IMDB:
  • 13 May 2011 Released:
  • 16 Aug 2011 DVD Release:
  • $29.1M Box office:

All subtitles:

Trailer:

Short, slick and vacuous.6/10
Based on the long-running Korean comic of the same name, Priest is one of those films that's been stuck in development hell for the last few years, running a gauntlet of director and lead actor changes and more recently, coping with a series of release date delays in order to facilitate the inevitably shoddy post-production conversion to 3D that's currently so beloved of mainstream cinema.

The added dimension isn't going to win any prizes - for the most part it is relatively pointless, and the world in which Priest takes place is not interesting enough to require any additional depth.

The ever-reliable Paul Bettany stars as the titular character. Stoic to the end, he's not your typical priest - more a deadly weapon, specialising in martial arts and weapons skills that make him the perfect killer. He exists in a time where vampires are a horrifying reality, battling humans for control of a conflict-ridden, barren wasteland punctuated only by large, soulless, church-controlled cities where humans live only for their faith and 'an honest day's labour'.

You don't watch films like this expecting an Oscar-winning tale, and action-wise, Priest is fairly solid, packing in a series of high-octane fights and chases for its duration. Helmer Scott Stewart knows where to put a camera in order to maximise the impact upon the viewer, and the oil-slick manner in which everything is filmed shows a director moving away from his previous field as a visual effects specialist and having a decent stab at mastering his craft.

Unfortunately, there's not a lot going on when knives and bullets aren't being flung around - the supporting cast of Cam Gigandet, Maggie Q and Karl Urban are given next to nothing to do and the dialogue serves only to move the film along to its next set-piece. Story-wise, it's paper-thin, and it's difficult to care about the motivation of any character when the levels of emotion on display resemble that of Mount Rushmore.

It is also strangely edited - 87 minutes is very short for a film with this kind of budget, and there's all manner of blunt cuts that give credence to the theory that there was once a longer, potentially better film here.

So, was Priest worth the wait? Not particularly, but for all its faults, it certainly has promise. Depending on box office performance, it could really benefit from a deeper, beefed-up sequel along the lines of Blade II. The good news is that there's plenty of source material available for a return to this mythology - it's just a shame that it's as shallow as the film it's spawned.
Better Than Expected9/10
Priest was exactly what I'd hoped for... Visually stunning, great action and fight scenes, decent effects - and in my case being a red-blooded woman, plenty of eye candy. I don't go into these sci-fi/action/monster movies expecting Oscar-caliber story and dialog, so when critics pan these movies for that sort of thing, I just roll my eyes and know I'll probably love it. Maybe that makes me simple, but I go to the movies to escape reality not drown in more of it, so Priest did the trick. I liked it enough to hope they get a sequel out of it.

Paul Bettany and Karl Urban both did a great job in their roles, as did Maggie Q. We were forced to see it in 3D because we missed the 2D show (but at least there was a choice). I tend to not care either way, and go for 2D over paying the '3D tax', but there were some aerial views that were pretty cool in 3D. If you dig dark, fun movies like 'Underworld,' you'll probably like Priest and like any dark, graphic-novel adaptation, it's worth seeing on the big screen for the imagery.
Like Equilibrium meets Mutant Chronicles minus the depression7/10
Don't get me wrong I'm not going to gush about how great this film was, but to be fair it didn't insult my intelligence either and that's a big plus for me when it comes to films these days. I purposely avoided reading any literature in relation to the "story" of Priest to avoid any bias or pointless expectations.

I wanted to judge it based on what was told in the film alone and honestly I have no complaints as far as the story development went, it was pretty straight forward with the plot, the characters were put into position early on, no dicking about with badly handled sub-plots and phony intrigue. I wouldn't consider this to be a pretentious movie in any way, it's says what it's about from the beginning and it doesn't deviate from that narrative, it doesn't bring in (or keep) useless characters, (unlike "Sucker Punch"), it's a gateway movie but it doesn't treat it's support characters like balsa wood cut-outs (i.e "Thor")

Sure there could have been more action but what action there was, was nicely done, visuals weren't eye popping gorgeous but suited the film none-the-less. This was a lean movie, no needless fluff no overly complex ungainly plot just a "wham bam thank you ma'am" type deal.

This is one of the rare times I'm looking forward to a sequel.
The Catholic Review of Priest 20116/10
A priest throwing crosses like throwing stars into a vampire caught my attention.

Vampire meets post-apocalypse meets religious iconography meets Western. Staring Paul Bettany. I had the misfortune to see Legion and I've yet to forgive Mr. Bettany for participating in that wretched wince-fest. So given the actor and the genre, it's probably not going to be an Oscar-nominated type of film. But you know that the moment you saw the trailer.

As a Catholic (the orthodox type that grudgingly accepts Vatican II but mutters about 'the good old days' entirely tongue-in-cheek) it caught my eye. If you happen to be Catholic, every time you see a trailer for a movie where Catholicism is notably featured, you think to yourself 'Oh boy, how are they going to do a hack job that makes it out to be nothing like it actually is this time?'. Can't blame writers though, it's a religion that provides a deep, deep mine of interesting looking iconography and concepts (Apparently Catholic priests are the Ghostbusters of any movie that involves exorcism. You know who they're going to call. An old priest and a young priest.)

Interestingly enough, this film really... Doesn't involve religion. There's the iconography of Catholicism, a few words here and there, but there's really no actual religious content to the film. It's as if a tourist from another planet did a really in-depth one month tour of all things Catholic, but unable to understand the language, did the best job they could of representing it to their friends back home. The film doesn't denigrate Catholicism, it treats it more like a grab bag of 'ooo, that sounds / looks cool' material. It's a post-apocalyptic vampire western that involves characters that participate in a world where there's a State-run religion that is akin to Catholicism in a weird sort of 'parallel dimension where everyone has a goatee' type way. It's what you think you know, but not.

The movie itself is visually interesting. In many ways, it's similar to Event Horizon - another film where a concept wrapped in bad dialog with little to no sane plot caught the viewer's eye with interesting imagery.

Do you like vampires? Do you like westerns? Do you fancy a post-apocalyptic world? Does religion intrigue you, but in a 'not enough to be serious about it' way?

This is your film. It's not a bad film. It's not a great film. If you like certain things, like I do - vampires, vampire killing in a kick-ass style and a certain visual je ne sais quoi, 'world view' that's unlike anything else out there, it's worth seeing.

People you shouldn't take with you to see the film: Serious boring types that get upset if there aren't things like 'good dialog', 'character development' or 'a plot that doesn't make you put your head in your hands'. Much like Ke$ha, it's one of those catchy things you would never admit to enjoying to anyone you respected.

If you happen to be Catholic, rest assured that it's not butchering the religion and presenting some horrific view of it that alienates all who would see it. That's because it doesn't understand religion, but hey (blame the material it's based on - eastern writers tend to have a really strange view of Catholicism and Christianity in general.)

See it in 2D if possible. Like any 3D film originally shot in 2D, the 3D isn't great. Not as bad as Alice, but Avatar it ain't. While rated PG-13, taking anyone who isn't in college or older to see it isn't going to add anything to their life at this point.

And, if you, like me, enjoy it - try not to mention that in respectable company and we can just nod at each other in passing, secure in the belief that not everything enjoyable under the sun needs to be Oscar-worthy material.
Better than you may think ...!8/10
Priest opened last Friday in Spain.I went to the cinema without knowing the mange or the back story. I watched the trailer and I though the movie was going to be a Paul Anderson style post apocalyptic crap fest. Oh boy, how wrong I was. Yes there's "bullet-time" sequences in the action but that's not the point. The action scenes are well shoot and you can see clearly the movements and the characters.neat editing. It's like a superhero movie that rips on zombie movies, vampire movies, mad max movies, spaghetti western movies and a little bit blade runner too. Some of "Daybreakers" some of I am legend.But…it works. It's not my kind of a movie but I found myself yelling and having fun all along its 87 minutes running. Yes, there's CGI creatures but the design of the monsters it's really cool. There's a very well done animated prologue and stunning sets and photography of the apocalyptic plain field.It's a decent comic book-action-western-horror film but don't expect deep on it.it's simple, effective and entertaining. Well done!