Film Review: Priest
● By Wendy Sipple
The story is set in an alternate universe that had a war spanning centuries that pitted vampires against humans. Once the church trained super warriors called priests the war was ended and humans reigned supreme and under the rule of the church in a post apocalyptic future that vaguely resembles the old west. Now out of a job, Priests find themselves outcasts of society.
It isn’t long into the film that an army of vampires appear on the scene and kidnap a Priest's daughter and hold her hostage. The church is unwilling to believe that vampires exist free leaving the Priest no option than to turn his back on his faith and go on a solo mission to rescue his daughter.
Priest is a very brisk 88 minute movie. There was just enough dialog in the movie to piece it together. I think that works to the movie’s advantage because most of the audience that is going to view this film is looking for action. The few scenes of dialog that is left within the movie are not that good. The main character of Priest, played by Paul Bettany, tries his best to remove any human emotion from his voice by talking low and using the fewest number of words as possible. Why do the Priests have to lose their personalities to become warriors? Just because you swear an oath of celibacy to fight for the church doesn’t mean you have to act like your dead. I am guessing it may be just for the simple attempt to make the character cool. Regardless, it doesn’t add much to the personality story.
The real problem I had with Priest is that it seemed more interested in being cool than it was in being good. None of the characters had any personality whatsoever. What’s more, none of them had character arcs. The characters are unchanged from the start of the movie to the end of the movie. None of the actors looked like they had fun with their roles. The whole movie seemed like forced labor. So while it did have the obligatory action scenes throughout it, they all felt staged, nothing really flowed. Some of the shots were interesting, but I never felt much excitement.
The opening of Priest features an animated sequence that quickly goes over the history of this universe, and I can’t help thinking that perhaps the real movie lies in there. Instead, we are whisked past all of the epic battles against the vampires to save our species and brought to a dreary aftermath of the war. In short the stakes are much higher in the two minute set up of the film then the other 86 minutes. It is clear that the film makers were hoping to start a franchise, but unless they do prequels I am not sure anyone will have much interest in seeing the continuing adventures of these characters. Guys looking for cheap action and little story might have fun with this movie, but that is about all it has to offer.
FILMS LIKE PRIEST: Legion, Resident Evil and Underworld
Justin Buettner is Style's resident movie dude! How did he get this role? Well, he graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a Bachelor of Arts in film Production and a duel minor in Animation and Business with an emphasis in the entertainment field. He later went on to work on several independent films in various key roles including writer and later worked in the special effects field as a motion capture artist. He has since relocated to the Sacramento area with his family and continues writing for small independent films in addition to his movie reviews for Style Magazine.