I love Paul Bettany; ever since I saw him play the role of Chaucer in A Knight’s Tale, I have been totally in love with the guy. So, you can imagine how disappointed I was when they crammed all this personality into the role of the ‘priest’. The movie could have been great, but unfortunately, it suffered from a poor script, shitty effects that look like they were ripped off from episodes of the campy (but cool) English sci-fi show “Primeval”, and poor directing. The story was actually fairly awesome, and they could have pulled this pile of potential into the land of awesome fairly easily, if it weren’t for some poor decisions made by the production department. Stephen Moyer’s talent is wasted in the wooden role he landed, becoming little better than an extra, and the leading lady Lily Collins, while hot, no doubt, delivers her lines with the emotion of a cauliflower.
The plot development is interesting, but their use of comics in the beginning of the film doesn’t come off as conceptual genius, –instead, it seems like they did it to save money. The official synopsis, released on IMDB reads:
“PRIEST, a post-apocalyptic sci-fi thriller, is set in an alternate world — one ravaged by centuries of war between man and vampires. The story revolves around a legendary Warrior Priest from the last Vampire War who now lives in obscurity among the other downtrodden human inhabitants in walled-in dystopian cities ruled by the Church. When his niece is abducted by a murderous pack of vampires, Priest breaks his sacred vows to venture out on a quest to find her before they turn her into one of them. He is joined on his crusade by his niece’s boyfriend, a trigger-fingered young wasteland sheriff, and a former Warrior Priestess who possesses otherworldly fighting skills.”
Some things go unexplained; like how and why the ‘priests’ possess ‘otherworldly fighting skills’, or why there are women included in the order, why they have face tattoos, and a ton of other stuff. None of the characters really… have anything to them, except maybe the main ‘priest’, but the role restricts the talent, and unfortunately, he’s portrayed as wooden at best. While that might have been what they were going for, who knows, –the other characters suffer from the same malady. Brad Dourif landed a colorful role, and did great with it, but his screen time was about er… three or four minutes, total.
Anyway, all told, the movie is interesting, but the whole idea I got from it was the desire to cash in on the opposition to the romantic vampire trend: “We Want Hardcore Nasty Evil Vampires!” Well, you get them in spades in this movie, if they can even be called that. In fact, there’s only one classical looking, non-CGI vampire, and his persona and character, while pretty awesome, is just as shoddily developed. All in all, the movie could have been awesome, but crashed and burned. Action lovers might get a kick out of it, and it is a must-see for vampire genre fans, if only because we’ve been seriously starved for vampire action lately.