Directed by Scott Charles Stewart. Starring Paul Bettany, Karl Urban, Cam Gigandet.
Based on a Korean comic book where men of the cloth battle vampires, this onscreen adaptation had promise but fails to answer the prayers of fans or geeks because of its over-simplistic plot and thinly etched characters. But if you want to see vampires in a different light then it’s relatively fun.
“The priests of our story are like Jedi knights,” said director Scott Stewart. George Lucas will have a bit of a chuckle. As far as it is from a Star Wars film (the original ones) in spirit or grandeur Priest doesn’t qualify as a bad film, just one that fails to reach its potential. Usually with vampire flicks you’ll have a priest there just to provide the holy water and the crucifix but in Priest, the clergymen are super ninja warriors who battled primate vampires and saved humanity only to be forgotten later by the people and the church who they served. But now an evil mutant vampire (Urban) resurrects his minions and attacks mankind even as the church claims nothing’s wrong, let’s all just pray (art imitating life).
Paul Bettany as the titular ‘father’ must rescue a girl going by against the will of the church and it’s monsignor (Christopher Plummer) with the help of Sheriff Hicks (Gigandet) and a Priestess (Maggie Q). And that’s about all there is to the film sadly. There’s no real character development, Bettany is his usual stoic self. Gigandet should probably stick to hunky-boyfriend-not-saying-much roles like he did in Burlesque and The Roommate. Only Karl Urban (Star Trek) stands out with his half-human, half-vampire villain but sadly he’s in the shadows through most of the film.
Okay, so it’s not all bad. Priest has some awesome music by the talented Christopher Young (Spider-Man 3, The Exorcism Of Emily Rose, The Grudge and many more classics). Director Scott Stewart has managed to keep the wafer-thin plot afloat for the one hour twenty minutes with some deft low-light camera work and a few kick-ass action scenes.
What the film could’ve used more of is a bit more mysticism surrounding the priests, some more mystery and darkness. As it is, it’s not really scary (my friend reluctantly came for the film thinking it was a horror film but barely got startled). The bones need some more meat on them so that the audience can really have a good bite. Still, let me just say that the ugly vampires of Priest are far more pleasant than the alabaster dummies of the Twilight Saga.
Oh and yes, the 3-D seemed more immersive than in your face (like Tron: Legacy) but I have to say that from my viewing angle at Cinemax Versova (Mumbai) I had some screen distortion which I attribute to the damaged screen (you could see the scratch lines on it).