Review: Priest 3D

"Quick... leave the set while you still have some dignity....!"
Paul Bettany stars in Priest 3D, an adaptation of the cult Korean comic series from Hyung Min-woo (or so Wikipedia tells me). The film set in an alternate world where war has ravaged between humans and vampires for centuries. The church prepares a special unit, known as 'The Priests' whom are expertly trained in exterminating vampires, although once this war has thought to have been been won, there is no longer a need for this unit. However, when one of the Priest's nieces is kidnapped by the remaining vampires, he must leave the sanctity of the church to bring her back.

From the trailer, Priest felt a lot like Legion, this is no surprise as both are directed by Scott Stewart and star Paul Bettany. And we all know Legion was not very good. The opening touches on an interesting concept about how these Priests are no longer needed by the society that created them, and thus feel  an exclusion from normal life, however, the film soon strays from that route becoming a generic-cliche filled mess. Firstly, the story feels like it's been done to death - 'the warrior going out in the dangerous world to rescue _____' and as for the over-salivating vampires, they just feel a bit boring. The combination of sci-fi/horror with elements of the Western genre could have been quite a strong mix but too many diverse 'worlds' in Priest make it feel muddled and ungrounded. Had it stayed in the western city, it may have been slightly stronger.

Hicks is the first Sheriff that shops in Topman
Priest also lacks distinctive direction and any style - creating an extremely generic and bland piece of cinema. The lack of heart or charm in the film make it instantly forgettable, feeling like it's just been fired out by Screen Gems to make some quick $$$. The characters feel undeveloped - Bettany's Priest is incredibly cold and cliched, showing very little variation to his role in Legion - every line of dialogue he grumbles is a cliche. However, the worst performance is that of Karl Urban as the lead villain, Black Hat, a vampire gunslinger: I normally really like him (especially in Red and And Soon the Darkness) but everything about this performance was cringe-worthy. Maggie Q is somewhat interesting but again, the character just feels so generic, likewise with Brad Dourif's appearance as a travelling salesman and Christopher Plummer's Monsignor. My love for Burlesque prevents me from saying anything negative about Cam Gigandet - he is genuinely the strongest thing in the film as the rookie Sheriff who accompanies Priest.

The 3D is incredibly lazy and it's clear that it has been added in during post-production - if you take your glasses off throughout the film you'd be able to watch 90% of it normally. It's just an appalling cash in.

Priest is one of the most disappointing films of the year, with an interesting concept wasted, it's essentially a generic and forgettable mash-up of all the cliches of the genre. Don't do what I did and see this for the cast - they've all given better performances that you should invest your time in.

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