Directed by: Scott Charles Stewart
Premise: Set in a post-apocalyptic world, humans live in enclosed cities controlled by a denominationally unspecified church following a war between humans and vampires. When a family is massacred by the vampires, a priestly warrior (Paul Bettany) disobeys the church leadership and goes on a rescue mission.
What Works: The opening of Priest has an impressive animated sequence that sets up the world of the film.
What Doesn’t: Priest is an awful film. It is rote and cliché, but what is worse about Priest is that it derives a lot of its look and style not from good movies but from their many imitators. A viewer familiar with the science fiction and horror genres might accuse Priest of emulating classics like The Matrix, Blade Runner, The Hunger, and Aliens but it isn’t. This film is too stupid and uninspired for that and its real parentage and inspiration is found in the likes of Van Helsing, Judge Dredd, and Underworld. This is a third and fourth generation copy of visuals and techniques that have long lost their meaning in the hand-me-down process. The story of Priest is its most dramatic failure. If the premise sounds impossibly convoluted that’s because it is. The film has the stubs of some interesting ideas but absolutely no handle on what to do with those ideas or what they mean. Instead it introduces a character or an idea and then sends its story to another location and sets up another character or idea and then runs off to do it again, but never brings these elements together. As a result the film is made of disconnected visuals and events that could be rearranged in almost any order and it would not make much difference to the coherence of the story. Even the action sequences, which ought to be the single redeeming pay off in a film like this, fail to impress. First, there isn’t a great deal of action. A lot of the film involves the main characters traveling from one location to the next, fumbling in the dark, and reciting overstuffed and pretentious dialogue. Second, the action that does exist serves no purpose. There are a lot of actors and creatures leaping around the screen but what they are fighting for is unclear and when it’s all over nothing has been accomplished. The special effects of Priest are very sloppy, especially the vampires. The creatures are not the human, Dracula-like menace of most popular vampire lore. They are instead computer generated monsters that resemble maggots with teeth and they look terribly fake.
Bottom Line: Priest is a crappy mix of crappy elements from other crappy movies. This film is not even satisfying as a guilty pleasure. It is just a bore.
Episode: #340 (May 22, 2011)