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August 25, 2011
Review - " Priest "  -  (on DVD) By Roland Hansen
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Directed by: Scott Charles Stewart
Starring: Paul Bettany, Karl Urban, Cam Gigandet, Maggie Q, Lily
Collins, Brad Dourif, Stephen Moyer, Christopher Plummer, Alan Dale,
Mädchen Amick, Jacob Hopkins, Dave Florek, Joel Polinsky, Josh

The barebones story concerns the titular Priest (Paul Bettany), a
tattooed, not-so-saintly man of the cloth who long ago helped to
eradicate vampires.  Disobeying direct orders from his superior
(Christopher Plummer), Priest vacates Cathedral City into the desert
wasteland on a desperate mission to recover his kidnapped niece.  
Soon, accompanied by a Sheriff (Cam Gigandet) in love with the victim
and a Priestess (Maggie Q), the group faces off against vicious
vampires – presented here as grey, slimy, dog-like beasts. However, our
leads discover that the abduction mastermind and “human vampire”
Black Hat (Karl Urban) may be building an undead army with which to
vanquish living civilization.

Slickly shot by cinematographer Don Burgess (Spider-Man, Terminator
3), the barren landscapes and grey cityscapes are beautiful to the eye.  
The 3D images (shot natively not retro-fitted) don’t bear the usual
obvious signs of sloppy post-conversion, even look impressive at times,
particularly when fire embers and soot float around the frame. Composer
Christopher Young also provides a grandly entertaining, western-
inspired score.
Bettany makes for a charismatic lead despite his minimal, growling dialogue. Unfortunately, the other characters are saddled
with clunky and clichéd interchanges. Grimacing and whispering under their breaths, their one-liners are so hard-boiled that
they scorch the ears and are more reminiscent of a ’50s B-movie western than a classic like The Searchers.
It combines the brooding
outsider reluctant hero who
must save a dusty world - the
plot that made the Sergio
Leone films of the '60s so
popular - with the brutality of
blood-sucking movies like
"Underworld." It should have
been "The Good, the Bad
and the Undead."

Bettany's the best thing about
"Priest." His stoic, Clint
Eastwood-like stare and
convincing delivery make the
hero believable.

The action in Priest is fun, but
not nearly as Matrix-esque as
I was picturing it should be.
When the Warrior Priests are
described, you would think
they could roundhouse kick a
skyscraper down in the blink
of an eye. Unfortunately, they
are tamed down quite a bit
instead. Still, the fight scenes,
while not overly inventive, are
tight and look good. Even
though the film is fun, it is
slightly lacking.

Still, I am recommending
Priest as a guilty-pleasure
film, one of those that you
actually liked but aren’t
necessarily willing to admit it
to everyone. For me it was a
huge lot better than I
expected it to be - which is
why it garnered 3 1/2 stars.
This might be one of those
that you have to watch for
yourself and decide.