“I walk through the valley of death I fear no evil.”
Priest was not screened for critics. A PG-13 dystopian, future, western, vampire movie is a lot to swallow. But, for most part, the movie works.
I was reminded of Pitch Black and The Fifth Element when I saw Priest today. No, I’m not comparing those two cult classics to this, I comparing the movie going experience. The front speakers volume at Providence Place Mall was up too high and it sounded like a mini-thunderstorm every time the bass rose high enough. Getting past all that…
Thankfully, Priest’s budget went towards set design and not overblown wire-fu SFX.
The overall backstory of the movie is spooled out before the credits via a lovely bloody animated prologue by Genndy “Powerpuff Girls/Samurai Jack” Tartakovsky. Human and Vampire at each others throats from the medieval period, industrial and finally dystopian Blade Runner-esque until the Church finds/trains several for a lack of better word: Kung Fu Priests in the art of vampire killing. This tips the scales until Vampires are put onto reservations and the Church disbands the Priests because the Vampire Menace is gone.
Thankfully, they’re wrong. I did not read the manga this movie is based on. So, I can’t say it was better or worse.
The good news is the Vampires thankfully are not human. The CGI Vampires are normally a no no in my book after what happened with I am Legend but with the darkened caverns and sets the CGI works since the Vampires have no eyes and don’t need to do anything but claw and bite. The hierarchy of this world is simple at best: Vampire Queen – > Vampires -> Vampire Familiars.
There are no human Vampires until Black Hat played by Karl Urban dramatically shows up one evening on Owen Pace, played by True Blood’s Stephen Moyer and kidnaps his daughter. This sends Sheriff Hicks woodenly played by Cam Giganet to find Priest played by Paul Bettany. Priest and his other Kung Fu Priest brethren have been doing menial jobs until Priest is told by the Monsieur lovingly played by Christopher Plumber (who has become the go-to old fart in charge and does it so well) to fuck off so he decides to ride out and take charge.
Yep, it takes the Searchers adds overall themes from post-Vietnam plots of soldiers coming home smothers it post apocalyptic setting and throws in the bee hive Vampires.
I wasn’t expecting Shakespeare folks when I went in, I have no illusions this movie was going to be but the sprawling vistas of the days gone by, the solar charing the speeders the bibles full of ninja stars to Karl Urban needing another good 30mis because he looked so damn good in that hat and finally Maggie Q’s pouting after Priest to knock boots the movie was pretty good even if it was PG-13.
Priest does not try to be big and while some of the dialogue is a little eye rolling and the wire fu could have been designed better overall I enjoyed it.