Throwing stuff at the internet to see what sticks
Tuesday, June 21, 2011 M. Ovie Reviews: Priest
I didn't want to see Priest, because everyone I know who's seen it (a surprisingly large number) only went to laugh at it and make fun of it. I didn't have anyone to do this with, so that pleasure would be muted for me. And even in the theater, there were only five or six other people. All of them alone, like me. Perhaps their spouses had also insisted they go, just to be mean, like mine had. But they probably hadn't also seen the last movie in which Paul Bettany played a fallen representative of God fighting to save humanity from supernatural beasties (and to a lesser extent itself) like I had, so it seems extra unfair.
I started out not minding it that much. The opening scene's pretty standard, but then there's a beautiful animated sequence setting the stage for whatever alternate, vampire-infested universe the story takes place in. Narrated by Alan Dale (who also plays a Church elder in the film), it would give HP7P1 a run for its money if there were an Oscar category for "Best Performance by an Animated Backstory."
And then we're dropped into an industrial Blade Runner hellscape, with skyscrapers to the nonexistent horizon and fat cinders raining just inches past our 3-D glasses, and that's actually kind of cool. It looks like an impressively realized world, even if it doesn't hold up past the first twenty minutes. Because it turns out that here's a reality where jet-powered motorcycles that have computer dashboards coexist with hurricane lamps, gramophones, and train station masters wielding pocket watches. But even that makes more sense than the movie's physics, science, sociology, or plot.
In the world of Priest, vampires are completely different from what we're used to. Instead of allegedly sexy guys with plastic teeth, they're eyeless, quadrupedal, semi-ballistic boogers with CGI fangs. So then a big revelation about a "new" kind of vampire rather loses its bite, if you'll forgive the expression, and I probably wouldn't respect you if you did.
Also in the world of Priest, everyone lives under an oppressive Catholic theocracy that both keeps the populace living in fear and misery behind impregnable walls and insists that there are no more vampires. Pick one or the other, Church, but not both. That makes no sense.
I did appreciate the clever casting. Besides Bettany, there's Cam Gigandet looking like Lucas Black in Legion, Stephen Moyer as a non-vampire, and Karl Urban and Brad Dourif demonstrating the bleak prospects facing third-tier Return of the King alumni.
But as dumb as it was, and as much as I didn't feel like I missed anything when I went to pee before the third act, I didn't hate it as much as I expected. In fact, I'd have to say it was one of the best postapocalyptic horror/Western/martial arts/allegorical remakes of The Searchers I've ever seen. posted by M. Giant 9:15 AM 2 comments
Whenever I see Karl Urban in anything, I can't help but think back to when he was Cupid on Xena and laugh. (I know he played other characters on Xena, but Cupid is the one that makes me wonder if anyone looked at him back then, and thought he might be making big movies now).
If you have a smartphone, you need the RunPee application!