Recently watched the movie PRIEST which was released a few months back. The film, starring PAUL BETTANY and MAGGIE Q, which in some ways was a much better experience than I had expected, but then still not the best it could have been.
Based on a manga comic book, and directed by SCOTT STEWART, who also before this movie had directed BETTANY in his other dark fantasy film LEGION. This pairing of star and director has continued, but still seems to not provide the most satisfying or engaging film they might really be capable of producing together.
It could be due to weak scripts, predictable dialogue and plotting or just not enough connection between all the actors and the director, but it is again a honest shame I believe.
PRIEST, like LEGION before it, was a genre movie that I did really want to like, and had some level of hope for. This really might have been foolish of me, knowing how modern Hollywood produced genre big budget movies can leave us regularly feeling cheated, craving so much more. PRIEST is a sort of vampire movie, in a kind of futuristic or alternative reality way. PAUL BETTANY plays one of the priests called together years before to fight and destroy the many montrous vampire packs around. These holy people however, kicked, punched, fought good and hard to defeat their dark evil foes.
He is pulled back in to the danger, while it is believed the vampires had been wiped out when a young girl is taken, and he must turn against his holy life.
Yes, it may not entirely be the most original tale, and it does originate from a manga comic, where it is probably best appreciated for striking graphic style and visual dynamic action artwork. The film does have a very well styled sharp look, a merging of MAD MAX and maybe LOST BOYS in ways. Stark, desert plains, and then grim futuristic city visuals contrast well. BETTANY I feel is a better actor than some give him credit for, and it can be seen easier in other less genre films that he has performed in. But in this and LEGION, he does give a solid and reflective performance and should be used more often for these apocalyptic roles, though he seems to be moving on personally.
There are other very good actors here too-MAGGIE Q as another priest who has some previous close emotional link to BETTANY, CHRISTOPHER PLUMMER, the legend of strange sci-fi and horror roles BRAD DOURIF, even MADCHEN AMICK turns up. But sadly even this collection of well respected figures still do not entirely bring this movie into what it very well could have been.
It takes vampires and puts a much needed contemporary twist on them, seeming more like mutated monsters with fangs, eyeless horrors waiting in large caverous cave hives. There are several certainly impressive set pieces across the stunning vistas, and within darker scenes, some well directed characters, bizarre and holding interest as the film moves along. A number of very clever scenes and lines between characters, but then predictability sets in again. Really it is the visuals which carry this movie to its end. The final scenes are also where it really lets us down. It deserved a big surprise smack down, with vampires ripping at the priests, some tensions between lead characters, an awesome final showdown.
It does almost offer all of this, but just not quite, not really enough finally. Obviously it is setting up what could be a franchise or at least sequel, but it really should have closed with a better more satisfying end if there is to be nothing more. Interestingly some of the deleted scenes offered extra possibilities and maybe even a better end to the film.
PRIEST is certainly worth seeing, and does provide a much different unique take on on vampires that are not sparkling or charming, which is a good enough reason to see it. Vampires, BETTANY and an almost fantastic movie.