Karl Urban was the only reason that made me want to see PRIEST. Okay, not for him necessarily, but the way that he talked it up when I was lucky enough to interview him last year. He made it sound really great and I really believed that it could be a cool project. Not to mention that it is derived from a manga. Urban was excited about his turn to the dark side and I was happy for him. Unfortunately, his boasting was way more fascinating than the actual film.
The best thing about PRIEST is the atmosphere and the world that was created within the film. It’s a dark, dreary world that could be set apart from other post-apocalyptic sets. At times I was reminded of running around in the wastelands of Fallout 3. There is also a Wild West aspect that verges on being slightly steam-punk in look. Is it bad that the set pieces were the best part? Well, at least it had something going for it.
In an interesting animated sequence at the beginning of the film it is explained that vampires had taken over and they were so strong that humans stood no chance. A special group of people with amazing strength and skill were chosen as Priests to protect the citizens. The priests took out all the vampires then made their way back into regular society. This brings us back to the present in a futuristic world ruled by one religion. On the outskirts of the city a family is murdered by a legion of vampires, all except one—the daughter (Lily Collins). She is captured and taken away. When her boyfriend (Cam Gigandet) turns to her uncle who happens to be a “retired” priest (Paul Bettany) so to speak, the uncle is unsure because it is seen as going against the church to take on such a task. The church does not believe that there are still vampires but the evidence is overwhelming. The priest decides to defy the church and take off with the boyfriend in search of his niece.
The first thing that immediately drove me nuts was the fact that every male except for Gigandet decided to use the Christian Bale Batman voice. In the future, do all men have really low, gritty voices? Apparently so. Paul Bettany is so much better than the material he’s been working with lately. For some bizarre reason, I watched LEGION as well. He wasn’t very good in that, either. Bettany is a solid actor, so why is this happening? Is he just phoning it in and taking a paycheck? Or does he really like these types of action films? If so, he needs to give Paul W.S. Anderson a call. I expected this kind of performance from Gigandet, but not Bettany.
I hate saying this but Karl Urban was one of the worst things about this film. He was not convincing as the villain at all. There was nothing threatening about him, even though he was the only human vampire hybrid. Who cares! That character should stand out above all the rest. Not even the lead put himself in a lead role.
The plot was interesting but the twists and sub-stories were weak, almost laughable. I never rooted for any of these characters and never got behind them. This film would have been more effective if anyone having to do with it acted like they actually cared about the material. It just seemed like they did the movie to build really awesome sets. Unfortunately, PRIEST is barely worth watching.
Video: The clean, crisp transfer here is exceptional. That was one of my other favorite things about this film. The color palette is wonderful. I might actually recommend watching this film on this aspect alone. (2.40:1 Widescreen).
Audio: The audio was good when it came to action scenes but the dialogue portion was not so great. The Batman voices were too low at times and the audio did nothing for it. I was two seconds away from throwing some closed captions up on my screen. (5.1 DTS-HD).
Filmmakers and Cast Commentary: This was a decent commentary. Again, the actors were genuinely excited about being in the film. Scott Stewart was way too serious. I kept thinking that he should really lighten up. It’s not a totally throw away feature though. Check it out if you’re curious.
Deleted and Extended Scenes (12:31): I was really amused by the before green screen clips. The scenes here offer more dialogue, script changes, and alternate endings. The possible endings offered a bit more closure to me though I can see why they used the one they went with. Usually I don’t recommend watching deleted scenes but in this case I think you should.
The Bloody Frontier: Creating the World of Priest (12:49): This feature delves into the world that was created for the film. The cast and crew talk about creatures, visual effects, and the sets.
Tools of the Trade: The Weapons and Vehicles (11:25): This might as well have been called a blooper reel. It goes by too quick.
Bullets and Crucifixes: I don’t really care for picture in picture. It’s really distracting when I’m trying to watch a film. There’s nothing new learned in the video commentary. Most of it was already discussed in the audio commentary as well as the behind the scenes featurettes.
MovieIQ: The best part about this is the trivia. You can get info on the cast and crew as well. I’m just here for the trivia.
Twisted Metal uncut trailer (2:31): This trailer for the new Twisted Metal game looks fun and could be potentially more violent than the original. Fans of the series will love this.
Trailers: INSIDIOUS, JUST GO WITH IT, ARENA, BAD TEACHER, BATTLE: LOS ANGELES