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Priest (12A) review

Smudge Jones on a film so bad it’s almost good

Written by . Published on May 25th 2011.

Priest (12A) review

I’M not a fan of vampire fiction. I never understood the Twilight craze and how a story about a young vamp that doesn’t suck blood - which is technically his job, being a vampire and all - could capture the hearts and minds of every member of the human race without a Y chromosome.

The script makes no attempt to make this alternative world believable and there isn’t enough character depth for anyone to care.

This craze, inevitably, led to spin-offs and now it seems that a week can’t go by without the girls in the office talking about a new vampire series, book or film. Walking through HMV the other day, I noticed someone has also brought out a vampire version of Pride and Prejudice. Now there is an author that needs shooting if ever there was one.

priest_4.jpgDespite this hatred of all fangy folk, imagine my surprise when I saw the trailer for Priest, a different take on this rising genre which looked surprisingly good. Slightly taken aback, I convinced one of the vampire nerd squad from the office to come along too.

The premise is relatively straight forward. In an alternative world governed by the church, there had been a century’s long war between man and vampire. To resolve this, the church made a team of specially trained, well hard, all punching and kicking ‘Priests’; men and women whose job it was to kill vampires and protect the human race. After the Priest’s won, all vampires were banished and the church regained control over the world, forcing their specially trained warriors to fade back into humanity and seek a normal life.

However, as we soon find out, the war is not as over. A gang of vampires attack the family of one of the former Priests - aptly named Priest (Paul Bettany) - and kidnap his niece (played by Phil Collins’ daughter, who is surprisingly pretty seen as though her dad looks like an egg looking into the back of a spoon.)

priest_6.jpgThis leads to Bettany going off to save the girl, with her gun slinging sheriff boyfriend Hicks (Cam Gigdanet) and later on, former colleague Priestess (Maggie Q), encountering vampires and other strange creatures in increasingly bizarre surroundings.

The first thing to say about Priest is that it’s completely and utterly ridiculous, which is a shame because I really wanted to like it. The script makes no attempt to make this alternative world believable and there isn’t enough character depth for anyone to care. Although some of the action sequences are fantastic - particularly pleasing to the eye in 3D - the fact that Bettany’s character is seemingly invincible and has no chinks in his armour whatsoever, makes the rest of the film void. At times it even seemed that Gigdanet was confused as to why his character was there - there’s no point in having a gun if everyone is dead before you can fire it.

Top this off with a villain (Karl Urban) who is given far too little screen time and whose motives are only explained in a rushed attempt to tie up loose ends towards the end of the film, and Priest becomes a disappointment on so many levels.

priest_3.jpgIt’s only saving grace is that it’s remarkably short. Had the production team put as much time and effort into the script and plot as they have the action sequences, this could have been one of the better action films of recent years.

As a concept it’s great and with a little more thought it could have been a fantastic film. Unfortunately though, even the vampire nerd squad were unhappy. ‘Vampires should be pretty, not monsters.’ Indeed.

Avoid at all costs. Go home and watch Twilight again if you must.


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AnonymousJune 16th 2011.

Why are you writing 'Priests' with an incorrect apostrophe, but 'Vampires' without?

EditorialJuly 18th 2011.

Anon. Terribly sorry. Fixed.

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