Monday, May 16, 2011

Priest

I didn’t bother looking at the weekend box-office numbers for Priest because I didn't want it to sway my opinion one way or the other. I discovered right before the movie started that this must not have done well at all. There were only three other people in the theater. At 7:30. I would give it the benefit of the doubt and say that many people who might have been there probably had other things going on but I think that’s a bit of a stretch. Though it’s definitely NOT going to make any nice top 10 lists it did go by rather quickly. Thank goodness for that.

Let’s see what IMDB had to say about it.

“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.”

Wow! That’s a mouth-full of adjectives, isn’t it? And who doesn’t just love to be able to describe something as post-apocalyptic? I know I do. But yes, that is how it was set up. Not only that. It was post-apocalyptic wild west. Yee-Haw! And I’m really glad they mentioned that the vampires were murderous because otherwise I would have thought this was Twilight all over again. Oh wait. I’m supposed to be talking about the movie and not the description, aren’t I?

Believe it or not you’ve seen this movie before. Or at least bits and pieces of it in many different movies. And parts of it in real life. Let’s make a list of all the types of movies they borrowed from, shall we? Let’s see…Cathedral City is from pretty much every post-apocalyptic (there…I got to use it) metropolis you’ve ever seen. The Wastelands can be seen in any of the Mad Max movies along with several wild west films. The main vampire is Wild West Clint Eastwood. No, not THE Clint Eastwood. But he was trying really hard to be. At one point I thought we were going to hear the cliché gunfight music. You know what I mean. Doo-ee-oo-ee-oo. Wah wah wah. The vampires’ guardian reminded me of the ginormous monster in Thor. The vampires themselves made a clicking noise like aliens in some movie I know I’ve seen but can’t remember at this time. If you do go see this movie please tell me what that sound reminds you of. It’s going to really bug me. This film had gunfights, explosions, blood, grody monsters, heroes in tight clothing, small-town peddlers, pod “people”, romance (but not much), cool motorcycles and Matrix-like fight scenes. This movie had it all. Crammed right in there together.

As to the way it reflects real life…the Priests are trained for one thing and one thing only. To fight to protect citizens from the vampires. Once the vampires are supposedly locked away in reservations the Priests are no longer needed and their Orders are disbanded. They are thrust in to the world they were taught to protect and cannot find decent work because what they were trained to do isn’t needed in that world. If you don’t understand how this is similar to real life then you have neither been nor been related to a soldier trained specifically for war. And Cathedral City had shades of Hitler roaming throughout. Kinda creepy.

One of the things I found amusing was that a couple of the actors who played humans in this movie are well known for their roles as vampires. If any of you have ever seen the HBO series True Blood then you know who Stephen Moyer is. He plays one of the main, somewhat good, vampires in the series. If any of you have ever seen Twilight then you know who Cam Gigandet is. He plays the vampire tracker James. Let me rephrase. He plays the vampire who is also a tracker. And he’s one of the bad guys. In this film they both play humans. Stephen plays the part of the dad and Cam plays the part of the vampire hunter. Phrased correctly that time.

Stephen isn’t in the movie for very long at all but Cam is. He does a good enough job for the most part but at one point you just want to smack him. Didn’t I smack someone in my last review? Oh well. Sometimes they just need it. Cam plays Hicks, the boyfriend of the Priest’s niece, Lucy. Confused? No? Good. As mentioned earlier, Lucy is kidnapped by not just vampires but murderous vampires. Hicks and Priest set out to rescue her and in one scene they discuss the possibility that she could have been infected already. At this point Hicks tells Priest that even if she is infected he will do ANYTHING to stop Priest from killing her. Really? I’m sorry, Lucy, but if I were riding alongside Priest and you show up sporting fangs? You’re history. Enough said.

Paul Bettany plays the part of Priest. I’ve liked him since A Knight's Tale. I never really pictured him as an action star but he definitely changed my mind in Priest. Although, it does seem kind of type cast for him. Or he for it. Whatever. I can’t imagine him in muscle type action films though. Sorry Paul. He definitely fits the picture of a priest but then he starts to kick tuckus and it’s equally believable. Well, as believable as a vampire movie can be. I just found out that he’s married to Jennifer Connelly. Who knew? They probably did...but who else?

Lily Collins plays the part of Lucy. If you’ve ever seen the movie The Blind Side then you’ve seen her before. She plays the part of…ummm…Collins. Funny how that worked out. Lily has that “doe-eyed dear” look about her that could put her dangerously close to Natalie Portman territory. So far, though, she doesn’t appear to be just a whiny victim. Yea! She even attempts to kick some vampire tuckus in this movie. Stick to your guns, Lily, and maybe take a “damsel in distress” role or two but please please please hold out for the girl power movies.

The other strong female role is played by Maggie Q. She plays the part of…wait for it…Priestess. I know what you’re thinking. The writers must have been up night after night trying to come up with fitting names for these characters. Three of the other priests are named Brave Priest, Strong Priest and Bold Priest. There’s even a Flashback Priest (whose real name happens to be Austin Priester. Ha!). I just don’t know how they do it. Anyway, Priestess doesn’t just attempt to kick some major tuckus. She succeeds. I especially like the motorcycle scene. You go girl.

I’m still not 100% on board the 3D express but I really liked it in parts of this movie. I can’t tell you which parts because it would just take too long to describe and ruin parts of the movie for you. And parts is parts. I have a feeling the producers of Priest thought it would do well based on special effects alone. Judging by attendance this evening, they were wrong. Some of the effects were pretty darn cool and some just completely missed the mark. And yet again we have a movie full of cheese. One of these days I’m going to post a list of movie lines that make me just cringe. And they’re in movies that I love so I either have to fast forward past those lines or just plow through.

Now let’s break it down. Violence? Yes and lots of it. And, in some cases, graphic. Sex and nudity? None. This is one priest who sticks to his vow of celibacy. Don’t think he isn’t tempted though. Cursing? Yes. We even get the F-word just because. Drinking and drugs? I didn’t see any drugs. One of the bishops drinks something out of a can but you’ll just have to assume one way or another. Priest received the following rating:

“Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, disturbing images and brief strong language.”

Despite its rating I am positive that Armat and PaPa would think twice before taking P.T. to this film. Since this does have its origins from a graphic novel she’d probably want to see it anyway. I did like the effects enough that I would probably watch this again but I’m weird like that. I would like to warn you that just about the time you think things are really getting started, the movie ends. And I’m not sure I could stand a sequel. I’m not sure they’d be able to make a sequel. Oh, of course they could. It would just require lots of action and really bad lines.

P.S. You don’t need to stay through the credits. You almost don’t need to stay through the film.

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