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.


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