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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Priest (2011) Action Horror Vampire

Priest (2011) - Based very loosely on a Korean comic book created by Hyung Min-woo, Priest is a straight up action film with little depth but lots of CGI and fighting. The introduction done with comic art and voice over tells the tale of a long war between humans and vampires. Unlike the classical vampire these creatures are more like the creatures in the movie Alien. They are hive creatures with a community centered around a queen with many drones, monstrous and vicious and eyeless. They are stronger and faster than humans and it is unclear how we really won the war against them. It is true humans had the advantage of the sun, and then there are the Priests. The church, a future or alternate version of the Roman Catholic Church, recruited and trained a crack group of Vampire fighters called Priests. (or Priestesses for females). They seem to have their own set of superhuman powers. We see them jumping from great heights, moving really fact and fighting exceptionally well. It is unclear to this writer why they had these powers but maybe I missed the line of voice over that explains it away. It is the case that if you are not paying very close attention during the early part of the film some things could be unclear to you. The film is talky at the beginning to get everyone in the rules of the world but after that it is event driven. The plot points explaining the world are underdeveloped and it is a bit irritating. Why did the Church put the aliens, oops Vampires on reservations instead of killing them? I really don't understand; is there some reason these monsters were spared? I know they have some sort of hierarchy are they more intelligent than shown in the film? Why would they then allow themselves to become captures of their food source? The church after the truce disbands the priests and they have outcast lives in society. Why would you do that when your protectors are the only ones successful against the monsters? They played up the idea that because of winning the war and camping all the remaining vamps that the threat was gone. Since the priests are the heroes the church leadership felt threatened by their success and thus disbanded them. Since they had contained the vamps there was no threat there anymore. This is awful thin and I questioned it while watching the film. Also if the people knew the priest were the ones who saved them then why would they shun the priests after the war. The film makes a point to say society was not a place the priest could fit in and so they took the lowest of jobs. Is this a metaphor for soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan? Oops, forgot this is an action movie there is probably no metaphor at all in it. So some years go by and the church is in control of society, in a direct rip off of the film 1984 the imagery of the a society control by a central power, in this case the church. I kept feeling that the leaders of the church were a bit odd in there approach to the priests. Here they have this controlled society all doing there confessions and prayers. Sure the priest were maybe a threat as the saviors of the wars with the vampires but there is never any detail given to what actions they took to be a threat. Just a given that they somehow could upset the order of things. We as an audience though have to see the priests as a bigger threat than the vampires. Even after reports of vampire attacks come into the church they refuse to accept that the vampires are again a threat and thus refuse to gather up their priest forces. This struck this writer as ridiculous. If the greatest threat to the society was the vampire I would think that those in charge could recognized it. They after all just a couple years earlier came close to losing it all. How could they in the face of another vampire war not see that as the greater risk. I was expecting more meet to this conflict also. It was given really short thrift and never we never fully see the motivations of the different factions. This is often a problem with action movies, they are lean with just enough information to move to the next action sequence. Not that there is no complexity to the plot, it is just that everything is very bare. In the opening we see the Priest raiding a vampire hive and the culmination of the set piece is that our main character Priest (Paul Bettany) is holding the wrist of his fellow priest but can not hold on as the vamps drag him into the dark. A trope or a cliche? I lean on the side of the cliche and expect to see the pulled away priest again. Later when the farm family is attacked and the girl Lucy (Lily Collins) is taken alive by the vampires, and the father is mortally wounded, you can bet they have some connection to our main character. We learn that the man is Priest's brother and the girl his niece, so now it is a personal story as he goes to rescue Lucy. Joining Priest in tracking the vampires is the boyfriend Hicks (Cam Gigandet) a local sheriff. Since the church does not want Priest taking this action they counter his move by sending four other priest after the men to stop them. Again to me a weak point in the script, they can't reinstate Priest but can do it for the four to stop him. If reinstating priests is such a risky thing then why was it so easy when it suited them? Priestess (Maggie Q) comes out after the Priest but instead of hunting him comes to help. Again in a one line of dialog her whole story is told and we know she loves Priest. It continues to go this way in the film, a line or two to explain something and then another action sequence. I don't want to go too much into the story which seemed poor to me. The film did the thing I least like about action flicks, big explosions and then the character standing up after being in them and shaking off the effects. No one important is even harmed by the massive destruction. Sure they have wounds but nothing like they should have received. It is why I don't like many action movies.

So the film moves to the stage where we learn what is on the line and a secret about little captured Lucy. Then the turn of who the leader of the vampires is. When the final sequence finishes you will be so ready to leave the theater. Set up for a sequel one could only wish never takes place. No really, never.

Rating (4.5) 5.0 and above are recommended, in the Zombiegrrlz system I would Rent it!

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