I had high expectations for this movie from the second I saw the first preview. I am not sure what got me all excited. Maybe it was those scary looking vampire creatures. I couldn't wait to see the priests take them on. Maybe it was my immediate interest in wanting to know more about these priests. More than anything, I got an epic vibe from it. Something told me this was going to be a great adventure. So did “Priest” turn into an epic movie, or just an epic fail?
The movie is based off a graphic novel by Min-Woo Hyung. It takes place after years and years of battles between vampires and humans. With the help of these priests, humans are finally able to defeat the vampires, and are trying to rebuild in these post apocalyptic times. While the church believes vampires are no longer a threat, a vampire attack on a family living on an outpost leads to the kidnapping of a young girl, Lucy (Lily Collins). This is no coincidence because Lucy happens to be related to one of the priests, who is left with no choice but to go on a journey to find her.
The story opens with a group of priests searching through a vampire hive. Before you even get a good look at all the priests, they are attacked, and the scene ends pretty quickly. It then shifts gears into an animated recap of the history of battles between vampires and humans. This animated sequence is pretty cool, and well done. It definitely got me excited for what was to come, but the timing of it confused me at first. I wondered why not just start with the animated history instead of that short action scene. Well, I jumped the gun because that scene actually becomes very important as the movie goes on.
After watching the vampires take Lucy, the audience gets a chance to learn a little about the Church, priests, and Priest (Paul Bettany). Yes, somewhat confusing as these vampire-killing warriors are called priests, and the main character is only referred to as “Priest” so stay with me. There is even Priestess, who joins Priest later in the movie. The Church promotes belief in God and hard work, and downplays any thought that vampires are still a threat to society. It is interesting to see how the Church, which is supposed to be all high and mighty, is just using God as a way to hold power over all the people. God appears to be just a pawn for the Church, but is actually very important to the priests. The priests seem to gather a lot of strength from God, and quickly pray before fighting the vampires.
The priests are basically outcasts now that the vampires are gone, and are left to roam the enclosed city reliving their nightmares of the past. Just as life seems as meaningless as ever, the sheriff of the wasteland approaches Priest, Hicks (Cam Gigandet), who informs him of Lucy’s kidnapping. At first it seems Priest is too caught up in his own pity party to want to embark on this adventure, but he quickly snaps out of it. He seeks permission from the Church to leave the city, but they deny his claims that vampires took the girl. So instead of doing it the easy way, Priest breaks his vows to the Church, and the hopefully epic adventure begins.
Priest leaves the city on his motorcycle. It looks like nothing more than a bunch of assembled junk, but is not short on power. Amazingly enough, the thing reaches speeds of more than 200 mph without falling apart. The speed comes in handy, as they show almost laughable clips of Priest traveling across the deserted lands.
Speaking of speed, it won’t take long before you notice the pace of the movie. It is less than an hour and a half, and almost feels much shorter. On one hand this is good because whenever there is no action and the characters are just talking, the scene ends just before boredom sits in. On the other hand, some of the action scenes, particularly early in the movie, seem to end just when you want more.
Eventually Priest makes it to the home where Lucy is taken, and reunites with Hicks. Unfortunately, the two decide to join forces in their search for the girl. Why unfortunate you ask? Because Hicks is played by Cam Gigandet, who carried over his bad acting performance in The Roommate right into the middle of this movie. As the movie went on, I was just cringing every time he tried to deliver an important line. No wonder why they kept the scenes short, and to the point. To make up for Cam’s poor performance, there is Karl Urban, who plays Black Hat. He did a great job of playing this very smooth, and extremely evil villain.
Since the movie moves at a fast pace, let me stop rambling on, and try to speed this review up. Priest finally takes on some of these vampire creatures. It is interesting how these vampires are truly another species in this movie, and aren’t like the human vampires as we see on TV all the time. They left me wanting to know more about them, but there is never really any detailed discussion about them. Priest mentions the different types of vampire species, but that is about it. The only other thing you get to know about them is that they hate the sun, and what they do in a fight.
The fight scenes aren’t bad, but again are too short. They focus more on Priest being such a great warrior that he kills the vampires too quick. If they wanted to do short scenes, they should have had more vampires for him to kill. The fight scene on the train is more what I was looking for when I decided to see this movie. Another problem I had with the fight scenes is when the characters went into slow motion. They should have just let the scene play out instead of randomly slowing down certain moves the characters make. The only things that are good to see in slow motion are the weapons that the priests use.
For those thinking about seeing it in 3D, forget about it. There is nothing going on that has to be seen in 3D. There might have been one or two brief moments when I thought maybe one of the weapons was coming at me, but that was about it. With or without the 3D, the movie is visually nice to look at, particularly the shots going in and out of the city. Actually seeing it in 3D only enhances the shot, and made me notice one thing: the cross on the priests’ head didn’t look straight all the time. I know it kind of changes with the expression on their faces, but in some scenes I swear I could see a difference in the cross. It is hard not to notice with all the close ups on their faces, and who isn’t distracted by a cross that is right on the person’s forehead.
They try really hard making this movie seem as epic as possible. It is very fast paced, as the story moves on with as little conversion as possible. The scenes change with high volume music pumped in trying to get you excited for what is coming. Then you have the great warrior, and his sidekicks on a journey to find a kidnapped girl that ends with a showdown with a villain. As hard as they try, it does come up short of being epic. They could have slowed down the pace just a little, extended the fight scenes, and given more details about the vampires. It turns out to be one of those movies that if you told me you like it, I wouldn’t argue with you. Nor would I argue with you if you told me you hated it. I guess you could say it isn’t that epic after all, so I give it 2.5 pools of blood.