Archive for the ‘the Nerdery’ Category

NYCC 2011: Retrospect Part 2

Posted by admin On August - 12 - 2012

Ringmasters: Like intimidating structures from George R.R. Martin novel, video game set ups surrounded and suffocated the comic book booths.

NYCC 2011 Retrospective Part 2: The New Kingdom. Video games are the current narrative to story-telling. Can comic books capitalize on their popularity in order to proliferate the industry to a new generation? 

by Ronald H. Pollock

Are video games the new comic books? Like massive constructs from Lord of the Rings, the booth set ups for Mass Effect, Max Payne, Uncharted, and Star Wars towered over the comic book booths to the point where entering the grounds of NYCC looked more like E3. Video games are not necessarily a bad thing for the comic book industry. In many ways, they are playing an important role in sustaining and a key component in proliferating the comic book industry.

 

The constant feed of media has changed the medium from newspapers, books, magazines to tablets, smart phones, and lap tops that weigh less than 5 lbs. The next potential generation of comic book fans are more comfortable with swiping, tapping, and other multi-digit interactivity. They are used to a constant feed of new information. Video games offer a more personalized format of story-telling in a more motion oriented 3-D format.

 

Whiz kids: Media is the new tool of story telling that allows a sophisticated “choose your own adventure” something that comic books do not allow the reader control over.

Video games are already the future of comics. The success of Arkham City proves that an entire graphic novel can be faithfully adapted unlike over marketed movie adaptations and TV budget roadblocks. Green Lantern is a prime example of a property that was unsuccessful adapting on the big screen due to the complexity of its story but on a video game format, the entire Sinestro Corps war can be adapted with greater control over GL’s universe.

 

Video games have taken the best aspects of comic books and learned how to make their stories epic. God of War borrows a lot of its action and epic nature that would easily be the inspiration for Walt Simonson’s Thor or the new 52 Wonder Woman game. Max Payne definitely would be a template for a Punisher MAX game. There’s so much possibility because video games unlike movies or TV shows don’t have so many chefs in the kitchen to where a new reader can go from video game to the comic book without losing a page of story.

NYCC 2011: Retrospective

Posted by admin On August - 12 - 2012

Rock Stars: Annual Walking Dead panel continues to grow at NYCC but no longer the sole headliner as the Avengers and a rash of video games previewed have transformed the largest purist con into a state fair of geek buffet.

NYCC 2011 Retrospective Part 1: Times are a Changing by Ronald H. Pollock

Every morning at 0715 at Midtown comics, I stand with 4 middle aged men of various successful professions discuss comics. We don’t know anything of each other. We only discuss comics. It’s our unwritten rule. The days of purists are over as “Comic Cons” have become less and less about comics and more of a modern state fair. It’s a reflection of the times, geeks are hybrids of hobbies. Is it better direction? Perhaps for the survival of Comic Con it is but every movement has consequences.

Are video games the key to adapting comic book arcs for purists? If Batman Arkham Asylum series is any indication, it’s the key to the introduction and survival of American story-telling for a new generation.

As NYCC grows and grows, 2011 Comic Convention noticeably shifted more towards media entertainment. The massive billboards, banners, and sets for the franchises of Mass Effect, Max Payne, Uncharted, and Star Wars respectively overshadowed the comic book industry on the main floor like the Towers from Lord of the Rings. Indicative of the times changing. What are Comic Cons today and what does that mean for fans new and old? Is it all bad for the comic book industry or is there something mutually beneficial?

There is No School like the Old School:

The comic book equivalent of Detroit’s Big Three in the American Auto Industry, Marvel and DC resumed their annual dominance, jockeying for position during their expose’ panels. For the 2nd year in row, DC acknowledged and addressed their solution to problems in an industry that has noticeable age lines and receding hair. Fortunately nerds and geeks have maintained their affinity for the elderly who still have stories to tell.

Double Dragons: Jim Lee (left) & Geoff Johns (right) architects of the DCU relaunch new 52 that once again, one upped Marvel comics in creating buzz, controversy, and dissension amongst fans.

In 2010 at NYCC DC addressed rising cost of comic books and launched their “hold the line” campaign. At the cost of 2 pages of pay per issue, all DC titles were kept to $2.99 in an effort to increase or maintain # of units sold. To build on top of “Hold the Line” DC followed up in 2012 with new 52 relaunch. Citing problems with new readers finding it extremely hard to afford a library of knowledge built on stories harkening back to their grandfather, the new 52 relaunch was a call to shorter arcs, less dialogue driven and more artist oriented visual language, and new entry way points with a tweaked characterization that a new facet could be constructed. Most importantly the new 52 gave comic shops the option of refunding certain titles if their sales dipped below a set market value. Unfortunately I found roughly 12 of initial 52 titles to be new reader friendly: Action Comics, Aquaman, Animal Man, Batman, Batman & Robin, The Flash, Green Lantern, Justice League Dark, I Vampire, OMAC, Swamp Thing, and Wonder Woman. Many of the titles suffered from opaque writing styles that either tried too hard to reinvent the wheel or were just plain ugly. Regardless overall sentiment from the fans was positive. While such a bold move, won’t stop collectors from hording free copies like pigs at a trough when the floor opens in the morning each day at Comic Con, I appreciated that DC recognized the elephant in the room.

On the other hand, like a MAC Expo Marvel continued to push forward their new products without blinking or bowing to negativity. They accentuated on the positives, most notably the success of Marvel Studios, the fresh take on a biracial Spider-man and its implications on the industry, and its next releases without any concern over their rising cost or books and products. The excess seemed clear to me, Marvel believed kids have no less disposable income than before. I couldn’t disagree with their methods. Marvel’s business model “Give the fans whatever they want, they’ll spend their money” hasn’t shown to be faulty by their sales records. If Venom or the Scarlet Spider sells 5 times more than secondary character driven titles, why would any businessman deny an addict their methadone in print? The only consequence being, older fans like myself who have collected comics over 30 years felt a little alienated by all the sudden, whimsical changes for the sake of movies that have no consideration for continuity. Their methodology was abrasive but poignant. Counting down to NYCC 2012, once again Marvel boldly shakes up the team rosters of both Avengers and X-men titles. Will this rude shake up detract collectors or their loyalty? Don’t count on it.

What me worry? Quietly, Robert Kirkman and Image comics continues to be the most progressive comic book company in the business, proving the business model you don’t have to draw the largest % of the market but the most loyal.

Lost in the shuffle for who can over saturate the market with Batman and/or Spider-man titles, Image Comics continues to be the most unsung progressive comic book publisher operating today. In 2010 Image comics pushed the envelope with more strong female protagonists in their line of comics. The additions of Hack and Slash and Shinku complimented the heroines in the Walking Dead, Bomb Queen, and Morning Glories. In 2011, Blair Butler crossed the lines of journalism to help promote the freedom of owner driven comics with Heart. The additions of Scott Snyder’s (Batman) Severed, Nick Spencer (Thunder AGENTS) and Kirkman’s (Walking Dead) Thief of Thieves, Johnathan Hickman’s (Fantastic Four) Manhattan Projects and Teeth, and Ed Brubaker’s (Criminal, Captain America) Fatale and upcoming Grant Morrison project will make 2012 Image panel to arguably be the most star studded since the company began more than 20 years ago.

Dark Knight Rises

Posted by admin On August - 12 - 2012

Great Balls of Fire: Christian Bale & Tom Hardy bring their A game to the final act of the Dark Knight trilogy, the Dark Knight Rises

The Dark Knight Rises review by Ronald H. Pollock

The Dark Knight Rises….and Bruce Wayne LIVES!

I absolutely loved this movie and I can’t wait to see it two more times…this time in IMAX (seriously every IMAX showing including 3am and 6am showings all over NYC were sold out till…next Weds)…life in the Big City cuts both ways.

What a BOLD and unprecedented and creative way to complete the journey of Bruce Wayne as Batman. I have to respectfully disagree with what Cyrus said about the first two thirds…breaking down Batman was necessary to re-center this story about Bruce Wayne. We saw this mistake in the previous run of Batman films. Burton’s decent start quickly turned into Rocky serials, catering not to fan boys but gamers who interpret sequels as one up-man ship, ” Next Level! FIGHT!”

Chris Nolan, a director with brass cajones who gets it right. Bring BACK to what made this character iconic by questioning his motivations and finishes the story with conviction. It still gnaws on me…all the Un-necessarily hatred he received. Diatribe “OMG you’re WRONG! You got Catwoman wrong!” just by a bunch set photos taken by amateur photo-journalists not even invited on set.

Get ready for a mudslide diarrhea coming from the mouths of cretins on this site (see activity bar)…

Batman Begins: Reborn by vengeance. Bruce learns how to be the bigger man motivated by the deaths/words of his father. Fueled by the love of his childhood sweetheart.

The Dark Knight: Sacrifice. The Joker’s point about human nature was so terrifying, the death toll so staggering, that every one sacrificed something in order to bury a lie.

The Dark Knight Rises: Rebirth by Hope. When Desmond fails to turn the key and all the suppressed evil and lies comes bubbling forth and drowns Gotham, Bruce finds redemption to his damaged soul that was eating him alive like a cancer.

Christian Bale gets the opportunity to FINALLY flesh Bruce Wayne out like he’s NEVER been fleshed out in the history of the comic book. In the source material, Bruce Wayne is most often an after thought until Frank Miller took over (sorry that’s the facts) and gave him dimension.

Because this isn’t Batman’s story…its Bruce’s story.

Tom Hardy was MENACING…I disagree with Leon. I did NOT want an elaborate hand to hand combat scene. That shit always looks like a dance. Might as well put a rose between Bats’ teeth for the Bat Tango. NO. The second match is epic and SOLD by the PIERCING STARES of two forces colliding…When Bats finally gets to Bane it’s a RELEASE of adrenalin, “YES!!!!” followed by the line Bruce had waited to say, “You have my permission to die now…” And it wasn’t a fight of physicality but a brutal boxing match of spirit.

Anne Hathaway’s Catwoman was similar to Jim Balent’s 90s look but the feel of this character was soooo perfectly fit. This is the part of the movie where I was a little worried. Her dry dark sense of humor molded to a girl who never stopped running. I always imagined her as someone who needed to keep doing jobs because the juice was on.

The most underrated scene (for me): was the one between Joseph Gordon Levitt as “Robin John Blake” and Gary Oldman (Commissioner Gordon) about staying “clean” in the business of maintaining order. I think this scene was the most emotional for me because there are so many times I want to drop my ID and unload my rage on treating prisoners and excons: rapists, killers, pedophiles who have tested me 7.5 hrs every night at work.

What’s a “good cop.” and what is the greater good for citizens? Who has the right to make those decisions? How do you deal with apathy, corruption, etc…Again, VERY emotional for me.

The last 30 minutes was dynamic but…its nothing without Nolan’s themes colliding to give it all meaning. What is the true journey of a hero? It’s defined here. Batman dies…but Bruce Wayne lives. Yes, there is a way out of the well that Bruce fell down. RISE!

I will not live in fear of terrorists and a homicidal gunman in Colorado…been through too much after 9/11. No, I want to beat the living shit out of them after seeing the Dark Knight Rises.

Rating: 10 out of 10 hand jobs.

Amazing Spider-man

Posted by admin On August - 12 - 2012

A Beautiful Mind: Andrew Garfield is Peter Parker, a troubled young genius trying to do right during a difficult time in his life.

In the repetitious competitive theme of superhero orphans, the 2nd most renown has to be Peter Parker but it’s only in the Amazing Spider-man do we have a definitive sense of what kind of stock he came from. Most people on the planet know the story of how Spider-man’s unique talents emerged but few know the story about his parents. Director of 500 Days of Summer Marc Webb explored extensively the psyche of Peter Parker to answer the questions concerning where his inquisitive/instinctive scientific mind was derived from, how his emotional attachment and sarcasm was expressed by his internalized expression of anger. Director Marc Webb gave us insight into the young man behind the mask and Spider-man is an after thought until the last third of the film.

 

Actor Andrew Garfield was the latest actor who wore the Spider-man mask. His Peter Parker was more of a sullen, downtrodden young Travis Bickle until his love interest Gwen Stacy played by Emma Stone channeled the complexity of a Marc Webb script that relied heavily on awkward situations, subtle body language, and timing. Their chemistry in the second act epitomized the strengths of Webb’s talents that being young love.

 

The flaws of the film began to cascade once Garfield suited up in the third act to battle the lizard. The leaping transition from a self centered angst ridden teenager bent on revenge to selfless humanitarian outlaw, risking his life wasn’t as secure a grasp for Webb. The Lizard’s clunky plot didn’t make a lick of sense especially after he left Oscorp to set up an open lab in the NY sewer. Webb tried to flex that super hero/NY urban myth camp in that scene but it came off as tacked on. Peter’s compelling need to be the better man was  implied expression of the infamous “With Great power comes great responsibility” line. What was distilled from the equation was the fun of being Spider-man. The swinging became monotonous. Every scene seemed mandatory to get to the end.

 

By the end, The Amazing Spider-man was an improvement over its Raimi predecessor as a Peter Parker origin not as a Spider-man origin. That will hopefully elicit itself in the second film where we’ll finally find out what the Oscorp minion in the limo was going to tell a dying Norman Osborn.

 

The Amazing Spider-man rates a pint of dark beer that isn’t guzzled but rather nursed along in intervals.

Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter

Posted by admin On August - 12 - 2012

Clear and Present Danger: Before he healed the nation, Abraham Lincoln was an axe wielding sociopath by night that paved his way to law school.

Review coming soon…

The Avengers

Posted by admin On August - 11 - 2012

The A-team: When the going gets tough, Robert Downey Jr & company get going in the Avengers.

The Avengers Review by Ronald H. Pollock
When the Norse god of thunder’s mis-behaving step-brother Loki, god of mischief returns to Earth armed with a mind control infinity gem, a ruthless alien army, and swipes an artifact of immearsurable power, the hand of a American super spy Nick Fury, director of SHIELD was forced to assemble a freaky Homeland Security version of neighborhood watch, called the Avengers.

The movie itself wasn’t far from the initial concept that Marvel sold for 12 cents back in 1963. Discovering a new way to market some of their landmark characters from various titles by creating an All-Star team to boost sales even further. That business model hasn’t changed a bit today. Marvel studios produced individual character driven films starring Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America to construct/develop this fantastical comic book world of heroes. The Avengers is the culmination of all these character driven films, now under one roof.

In the past studios, fans and the media have always talked about a super hero team movie but it has been very hard to fathom this possibility because technology, character introduction and development, story, and tone always seemed to be a bridge too far. For long suffering comic book fans ages 35+ a “good” super hero team film was a difficult have faith because of a long history of misfires and horrific attempts. So it’s no surprise that there was an underlying feeling of skepticism.

Director Joss Whedon credited as the father of fan driven TV shows such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, and Dollhouse did arguably the best job any director could have done. He captured the tone without cheesy winks to the camera, gave all the headliners their due while getting the most out of secondary characters such as the Black Widow, made the third actor to play Hulk relevant, and placed his faith in Tom Hiddelson as Loki to serve as the chain, grease, and spit to all of these moving parts.

For a thirty year comic book collector, the Avengers is the pinnacle of super hero movie making in terms of capturing the qualities of a comic book that being action, imagination and merging it with themes in more serious dramas such as empathy, acceptance, dysfunction, and emotion. It’s the emotional residual of differences put aside to serve a higher cause that inspires both comic book and non-comic book fans alike. That is a more difficult task than it looks. Nonetheless, Marvel has done what many would have said, was impossible.

The Avengers rates a fine wine of 5 yrs for fond memories, punch, and good laughs with friends.

 

Green Lantern

Posted by ron On June - 27 - 2011

No one including the Guardians are quite sure how the ring chose its wielder, maybe with great power comes great irresponsibility.

A compromised Intergalactic order entrusted a very flawed fighter pilot with a green ring that can will the user’s imagination into existence. Based off the DC comics’ property, the Green Lantern has been amended many times over the last 70 yrs. No longer a mystical warrior named Alan Scott in 1940 whose ring had a vulnerability to wood, Hal Jordan’s 1959 Green Lantern abilities are cosmic in origin. Despite the evolution of the character, the concept remained the same:  Courage and the will to act are vital ingredients that enable living beings to possess the ability to solve any problem or threat. Unfortunately the film chose to explore the concept through uninspired dialogue instead of depicting the necessary transition scenes that would convince the audience of a metamorphosis from a buffoon into a hero.

Emerald Dawn would have been a much better template for the Rise of Hal Jordan & Fall of Sinestro. Alas, no follow through and a hodgepodge of ideas

Surrounded by an A list cast, the script writers were pulled in two different directions as the interplay on Earth did not match up with the interplay on the alien world, Oa. As Hal Jordan, Ryan Reynolds’ charisma worked as an irresponsible, directionless flight jockey but lacked the substance of a Sam Sheppard to display the resolve that would sell how a character transitions from a quitter into a fearless hero. Reynolds in briefs achieved the strangest alien probe scene ever that was never part of the source material but rather as a demographic. As Hector Hammond, Peter Sarsgaard complimented Reynolds’ character as Jordan’s inferior polar opposite. As Jordan chose Will as his cosmic muse, Hammond chose Fear. A Yin to the other’s Yang in the midst of intergalactic war of emotional spectrum would have been a good introduction to the higher concept that we are not alone in our struggles to overcome obstacles. The emotion that each individual chose to overcome their obstacle in life not only defined who they were but also could have been the centerpiece for what was largely a group of characters with no direction in their lives. Alas, the actors were short changed by the studio’s greater interest in all the CGI effects that its reach overextended its grasp in telling a compelling story grounded by the acting talent at hand. Blake Lively followed January Jones in a list of vixens that had no material to work with. A shame for the actresses involved because comic books industry has come a long ways in terms of giving female characters some power and relevance to the story. Tim Robbins and Angela Bassett were along for the carnival ride. The first act’s labile characteristics don’t build up to the introduction of Sinestro played by Mark Strong. Sinestro’s importance as Hal Jordan’s mentor and ultimately the Green Lantern’s deadliest arch nemesis was undermined by too many characters and perhaps too many cooks in the kitchen of the studio.

Parallax might be Oan for paradox because it was intentionally created to retcon why Hal Jordan became a murderous killer. The movie version was completely different and failed to make the parasite's purpose any more simplified than the source material.

 

Like a marriage doomed from the start, the writing and director tried to mesh Emerald Dawn, an origin story that has been rewritten in Secret Origins to the prelude of the Sinestro Corps War. The script was uneven at best and won’t help any audience member should they decide to pursue the comic book itself. If the writers had a handle on Hal Jordan, they would have established why the most powerful side arm in the galaxy  chose him above anyone else in sector 2814 of the universe. Unfortunately they had neither an understanding of the source material or the character. As a result, Green Lantern was a film that was on par with Fox’s Fantastic Four, another bastardized adaptation that didn’t get any better in the sequel.

 

 

 

Green Lantern rates as a go-to beer if there’s nothing that strikes your fancy on a nice summer weekend. It’s not distasteful but it doesn’t quench your thirst either. Perhaps, you’re better off spending your money on the source material itself.

 

Cheers,

I'm serious with my coffee.

Ron

 

The Green Hornet

Posted by ron On May - 18 - 2011

Rogen plays his hand in the Super Hero biz. Unfortunately, it had less to do with crime fighting and more to do with hanging out.

In yet another tale of a bratty rich kid who was manipulated into reaching outside of himself to do some good, the Green Hornet was writer/actor Seth Rogen’s nostalgic tongue in cheek bromance to super heroes. Every super hero is a product of its time and the Green Hornet might be one of those heroes. While Gondry did a solid job updating the psychedelic look and massaging the awkward elements such as a minority manservant, it’s still set in Seth Rogen’s mind of naive LA suburb where drug lords are operating out of strip malls without an illegal Mexican or Asian in sight. It’s clear, Rogen was influenced by the 60s TV show of the Green Hornet but he took Britt to the low brow level of a dense buffoon. Britt never bothered to ask Kato why he’s rigging muscle cars with weaponry or what exactly he was doing for his father. Instead, he throws more money at Kato taking his word that he’s not a Korean drug lord using his dad’s money and company to fund his operation. Obviously all Asians including this writer are truthful and trustworthy right?

Let’s assume that Kato checks out. The bromance was 20 minutes too long with repetitious cool looking gadgets, bonding over beers, and jealously over fighting skills when it should have been spent on building up the nemesis for the Green Hornet, Christoph Waltz’s Bloodnofsky. Waltz did his best to work as a suave gangster without a cool nickname, reputation, or costume but his efforts are wasted. The plot was so shallow, there’s no rhyme or reason why his villainous character was doing what he’s doing.

The challenge of super hero films today caters towards motivations that have to be plausible enough for such an extreme or fantastical execution of a theatrical story. There’s very little to the Green Hornet that would require a pampered clown to get his hands dirty when he could have easily funded someone more competent to take care of the situation. Plot holes the size of the San Fernando Valley made the elaborate shoot out at Britt’s media empire HQ obligatory without any stakes raised. It was at that point the Green Hornet felt more like a theme ride than justice.

Wasted talents of a solid supporting cast and a visionary director rate the Green Hornet as a beer on tap that is drinkable but doesn’t quench my thirst for something fun.

Cheers,

Ron

Vampires that don’t Suck

Posted by ron On May - 17 - 2011

Despite a lackluster 14M opening, the disappointing Christ-Fu film known as Priest had me thinking about the recent demise of Vampire genre. It’s in worse shape than the Knicks under Isiah Thomas. Completely unwatchable. Bad scripts from horrible literature seems to be the mainstay. Hence, I felt it was my duty to throw you some recent material that should get you back into why Vampires are cool:

Relying more on suggestion and not beating you over the head, Let the Right One In let the horror creep into your soul slowly yet surely.

The Kids are alright
Let the Right One In shatters two preconceived opinions about vampire films. One, vampire films with kids can’t be taken seriously. Two, vampire films without excessive neck biting can’t work. It was one of the rare cases where the film does the novel justice. See it. Read it. Love it.

Through Pearl, we see the development of America through the eyes of the immortal undead and how it affects her marriage with a mortal and her hated archnemesis, Skinner


Sympathy for the Devil
Unless you’ve been living on another planet, writer Scott Snyder has taken the comic book world by storm in American Vampire. A tale of two different vampires who become undead at two very different times in the America. The reader gains a more intimate story about the changes these characters undergo not only within but also with the relationships they build. The sweeping changes as the characters around the vampires grow older has an interesting subtext. The story is not linear as we begin with the 1920s when Pearl is turned by her maker Skinner but then we see his story when the lawless old West was around. As we move forward in time to World War II, we also learn a little more about the past. Essentially, American Vampire is really about how they have played a significant hand at shaping America without anyone noticing but in a more intelligent, patient, thorough story-telling fashion that is mature and takes the subject matter seriously.

Thirst is a Korean vampire film that wrestles with losing your humanity.


If you saw Old Boy, chances are you familiar with Chan-wook Park’s strong work that challenges your sensibilities and constitution as human beings are pushed to disturbing brink of insanity. Thirst is a brilliant love story involving a priest who gives up his life to be a part of a study that could cure some strain of leprosy. He dies but is reborn with unique abilities not of ordinary human beings. Now, in a new life he’s challenged with trying to retain his humanity as his powers continually torture and tempt him to do things for his betterment.

A desperate man searches to save the woman he loves in a world he doesn't understand


New Blood
Written by Daredevil Noir’s Daniel Freedman, Undying Love is the story about a soldier of fortune who falls in love with a woman who is a vampire but the twist is, this comic book is faithful to the Eastern interpretation of Vampires. They’re not really blood suckers but rather soul suckers. Refreshing to see that not all vampires are not combat machines or stronger than 10 men.

Artist/Filmmaker Tomm Coker is no stranger to vampires. His limited palette but strong graphic visuals also breathed life into DC Vertigo title, Blood & Water about a man dying of a terminal disease presented with a solution with a price.

 

Unlike the film, there were no real protagonists in the Manga Priest. Just a cursed man on a suicide mission

 

The Confession

What made the manga Priest such a guilty pleasure to read was the Japanese take on Western culture. Hyung Min-Woo was obviously influenced by The Man with No Name, supernatural, exorcism, and science fiction as this tells the story of Ivan Isaacs who plots revenge for the slaughter of his family by joining an order designed to bring down the 12 fallen angels and Lucifer himself in the old West. Of course, such a multi-faceted book has flashbacks to the order’s origins from the Middle Ages to present day. While the plot falls victim to the “run the gauntlet” video game linear progression, it’s the unique look and intense imagery that is unmistakable and distinct. It’s too bad the movie didn’t utilize any of the same dynamics.

 

 

 

 

Hope this whets your whistle for vampires again. Till next time,

Where's my straw goddam it?

Ron

 

Priest

Posted by ron On May - 16 - 2011

No bible salesman, Paul Bettany played the man with no name but one humongous marker on his face

An unemployed fighting monk defied the Catholic Church in order to reconcile with a missing person whose ties go back before his days fighting vampires. Loosely based off the manga, Priest was futuristic martial arts Western where science met supernatural. Beneath this thick as pea soup mixture of genres was a tale about faith and compassion but too much self-indulgent homage to influential genres prevented the development of character depth. Thus, the story could never move forward with any emotional stakes.

Paul Bettany continued his desperate bid to become a super human character. Much like Legion, he has no material to breathe life into one dimensional character designed to look and act like a stone cold vampire killer but very little levity into the motivations of the character and why he would remain so conflicted with the Church that took away so many years of his life.

Karl Urban and Maggie Q had even less to work with as themes of forbidden repressed love, respect, and rivalry are shoehorned into the film and resolved in less than 5 minutes with a flashback scene.

This film had more questions than it had answers. Where did the very alien looking vampires come from? How did the Catholic Church adopt Martial Arts in their war against the Vampires? How does the Church know who was gifted enough to be a Priest? Why would they retire the Priests with so many people in need? What do the Priests have within them that made them more powerful than the vampires? How does this society operate? Why does the walled city of the Church always produce ash to the point of blocking out the sun? Never mind, this was a story with religious themes. Where does God play into this story? As more questions grew, it became clear that this film was more of a product in form than function.

Perhaps the biggest question is, are there any redeeming factors in this film? The 2-D animation benefited from the added postproduction 3-D effects and might be the best way to save old school animation cell techniques. Hopefully, one observant person picked it out and will use that to promote better thought out ideas. Alas, Priest had very little recognizable characteristics of a vampire hunter story outside of the obvious crucifix and one scene showing a Nosferatu looking queen. By the time the vampires’ plot was revealed, it had little resemblance to a Western as well. With acting faxed in from a bad Xerox copy, this film was the equivalent of Castlevania 3000.

If I had to rate Priest, it’s a lukewarm pint on a humid day. That is, it never quenched your thirst but on a dry unbearable day with no alternative and your last dollar on the table, you’ll take it.

Cheers,
Ron

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Thoughts on Cinema is dedicated to film reviews. An uncompromising opinion on the intellectual, artistic, and entertainment value to the consumer. With rising ticket prices, we dedicate ourselves to present to you content regarding what you should or should not be viewing. -Ronald H. Pollock Founder and Editor in Chief

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