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A Man and His Movies: ‘Priest’ offers potential, falls short

By Ian C. Beck ’12
THE ROUNDUP

Vampires have been a hot topic in Hollywood over the last few years, but not this kind of vampires.

“Priest,” directed by Scott Stewart, pits a group of warrior priests against a horde of slimy, Golem-esque vampires.

These priests had been used as a human killing machine in a war with the vampires that left both races near extinction.

Vampires and human had been fighting each other since the dawn of time and the vampires had pushed the humans to the brink of extinction before the priests were created.

Trained in the art of vampire-combat, the priests were fast and strong enough to kill vampires. But once the war ended, priests became irrelevant to society.

Paul Bettany stars as an unnamed priest who, like his clerical brethren, has drifted into the shadows of a post-apocalyptic society where the church rules with an iron fist.

When his brother and family are attacked in the unprotected wastelands, Priest is forced to break his vows to the church and go after his captured niece.

His mission uncovers the existence of a new vampire army intent on enacting revenge on the humans.

Because the leaders of the church refuse to acknowledge a vampire threat, Priest is left to take on the vampires with only friend, Hicks (Cam Gigandet), and Priestess (Maggie Q).

The movie provides a skeleton of a great plotline but fails to flesh it out and bring it to its full potential.

A family member gets captured, the protagonist goes to rescue her, but there were many different sub-plots that could have added greater depth to the film.

A relatively short film at only about an hour and a half, “Priest” fails to delve deeper into the complexities of the personal tragedies that afflict Bettany’s character.

Moreover, the film fails to make up its mind, flickering between themes of science fiction, religion and even a cowboy western.

In an age where visual effects rule supreme, the visuals in “Priest” were surprisingly average, if not dull.

Most of the film takes place in the barren wasteland, but in the scenes that take place in futuristic cities and outposts the setting fails to wow viewers as is the expectation these days.

One redeeming quality of the film is the action. Fight scenes between Priest and the vampires are easily the high points.

The ending left a strong possibility for a sequel, but whether or not a second film will be produced or warranted is unknown.

“Priest” had potential, and maybe that potential is enough to win a sequel where writers can go deeper into the characters that beg to be opened up and read like books.

Overall, this movie had the chance to be the first in a line of summer blockbusters, but while it ranks as a solid movie it came up well short of greatness.

Two out of five horseshoes.