Monday, May 16, 2011

Review - Priest - B-

By Guest Blogger Maeghan Kimball

Movie Review: Priest starring Paul Bettany

It’s Paul Bettany in a futuristic action film. I had expectations of wonderful craptastic dialogue that makes the audience laugh when Mr. Bettany delivers his lines in his wooden serious way that audiences have come to know and love. But I was surprised.
The movie has a plot that holds up. (And there’s no one named Jeep that we all want to die but Paul insists on saving. Ugh, Legion anyone?) The plot is a very typical good versus evil, but the main character is perfectly made for Mr. Bettany. He’s a quiet brooding type that says more with a look than actual words. Man has survived the Vampire menace and imprisoned them and The Church is the only thing left to protect mankind in the wasteland that the wars have left the world in. The world is dark and stark and is a mix between post-apocalyptic and a cowboy feel.
The Church has protected society and through their actions, humanity has survived the Vampire scourge. The Church controls every aspect of life. Mass confessionals and the entire population worships in fear as one. That’s in the cities. Out in the wasteland, it’s the dust bowl prairie and it’s practically lawless. The Vampires are contained in Reservations and they are no longer a threat. Until they kill a family and kidnap their daughter, Lucy played by Lily Collins. Enter Priest, played by Paul Bettany. Priest was part of a Church Special Forces unit that was trained to be Vampire killers extraordinaire. After the Priests won the war, according to the Church, they were disbanded back into society, but they were feared and unwelcome. The Church wanted to forget them, too, so they survive on the edges, their scars never healing. They are convinced that the war isn’t over yet.  The Church is adamant that the War is over. So when Hicks, played by Cam Gigandet, shows up to enlist Priest’s help in recovering the kidnapped Lucy, the Church threatens to excommunicate him if he leaves the city to rescue the
Priest, the lead character, was part of a special force of Church made warriors that have been disbanded after they took care of the vampire threat. But the remaining Priests fill like outsiders from the world and the Church that they were trained to protect and worship. Enter the bad guy, Black Hat played by Karl Urban, who not only has a plan to kill all the humans but to take revenge on Priest. He has Priest’s family killed except for his niece Lucy. Lucy’s love interest Hicks comes to the city to recruit Priest to save Lucy. But if he goes, he defies the Church and therefore God. Wouldn’t be much of a movie if Priest didn’t go. Paul Bettany manages to pull off the emotionally detached killer with issues with the Church and his own Faith.
Now this is where I started to grove on the movie. Fantasy has always been my favorite genre of movies and books because of the way that they can focus on an aspect of our world without it feeling like an attack. This movie takes on the separation of The Church as an entity and Personal Faith and their relationship with God. Priest has to choose to either “Going against The Church, is Going against God,” or following what his heart says in the right thing to do about Lucy, the vampires and the way that the Church is blind to the real threats that are going on. As the movie unfolds in a fun cowboy movie with lots of cool toys way, the extent of the way the church has manipulated the lives of the characters and the world in ways that are truly diabolical are revealed. The vampires, once conquered, were put into concentration camp like reservations and treated in ways that society would not even treat dogs. Maybe it’s because these vampires look nothing like humans. They are pure creatures and predators. They have no ambitions beyond that. It’s the infected humans, or familiars as Priests refers to them, that have the plans and schemes, hence Black Hat. As I said, I was grooving on the parallels and mirrors of life.
Here is where it failed. I wanted more action. The actions scenes were good, but they were quick and to the point. The Priests, that were the scourge of the Vampires, never get a full moment to show their true strength and shine. The vampires get the same treatment. Their fights are quick and to the point. I wanted violence and blood! But the fight scenes that were there were good but not gratuitous.
There was no comedy. Absolutely none. Not that it is required, but it’s nice to have a moment when everything is okay for a moment and Hicks could have really provided it. The character was meant for it, but no. All seriousness.
So overall, I liked it. Surprised me how much I liked it. The twists and reveals weren’t earth-shattering, but that wasn’t what I was looking for. This movie may have lacked in action, but the message more than made up for it in my mind. Overall I give it a B-, more actions and I would have given it a B+.

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