I must admit to wanting to give this a miss as none of the reviews I had read were particularly favorable. The problem was compounded by watching The Sting and The Verdict several days before hand. Somehow moving from the late great Paul Newman to this didn't seem like a good move! Well in some ways I was right, and yet I found enough to like as well.
I generally like vampire movies. As a horror figure they have fascinated me since kiddie hood. I've read Bram Stoker's Dracula and don't think any other novelist has even close to his vampiric masterpiece. And yet his iconic figure has spawned any number of vampire movies, whether following in draculaesque form or not. In Priest the said vampires are not the usual cliched vamps in being turned into vamps only if bitten by a vamp. In fact they are not human based at all but an entire different species.
In Priest a human bitten by a vamp becomes a 'Familiar', a sort of in-between human vamp. So it takes the age old vampire legend and tweaks it a bit. I don't mind this as such as the vampire is a mythological figure that can be played around with ( figuratively speaking!! ). The movie starts with a cartoon type back story detailing a distant war between these vamps and humans. Between them they left the world a waste land after the Priests' ( humanities saviours as they are vamp killers bar none ), win the war and the remaining vamps are consigned to 'Reservations'. With the world decimated humanity retreats into city enclaves run by the church.
These church run cities smacked of George Orwell's 1984 and I couldn't help but feel a big brother anti-church sentiment bubbling through. No matter as out hero's family is attacked by the church's non-existent vamps. Of course as the Church's ex secret weapon the hero wants to come out of retirement but is refused. Hence he goes rogue and gets assistance from a post-apocalyptic sheriff. Yep all the cliches come out to play I'm afraid!!!!
Well no need to go into too much more plot as there isn't much from here on in! Suffice to say a lot of vamps get killed, our hero priest gets chased by his own kind, but they are killed by big bad nasty vamp leader, big bad vamp leaders plans are foiled, and hero prevails...oh and the movie ends with the matter of a sequel in no way being denied!
So what we get is pretty much nothing new premise wise. But surprisingly Priest isn't all that bad. I found it superior to the recent Cowboys and Aliens as a comparison. Compared to C & A Priest's editing alone was leap years ahead. But the acting was worse! C & A's was wooden where as Priest's can only be described as poor. Sure the dialogue was utterly banal and actors cannot be criticised for that, but honestly Can Gigandet went to the Keanu Reeves school of wooden acting. He is terrible, just cringe worthy. His dialogue isn't great but his acting skills made them worse!! Karl Urban is acting beneath himself, but again his dialogue is poor, and he can't do more with it than he did.
The whole cast suffers from poor dialogue and the script is patchy with it. I mean the first third of the movie was well done, but then it fell into the usual chase 'em kill 'em cliches, and it fell apart somewhat. But then surprise of surprises the movie has got a definite stylish about it. The CGI at times was a bit cheap and shoddy, but it then turned around at times and was spectacularly good. The motorbike scenes were poor but the vamp dens and human cities were quite cool. This is unfortunate because with a bit more effort then Priest could have been a really, really, cool movie. As it is it is a normal run of the mill 'could have been more' movie.
But I will say this. Unlike Cowboys and Aliens Priest had a premise and didn't totally blow it. But at the same time it is a movie you almost forget as soon as you finish watching it. And there it is like Cowboys and Aliens in being a movie that promised so much, could have and should have delivered, but didn't. Priest then is a disappointment. With a lot to like the flaws are to great to ignore and at only 87 minutes long paying $17.90 to see it in 3-D is too much for too little. Just frustrating for blowing it when it wouldn't have taken much to get it right.
A movie that pissed me off because it had alot to offer and didn't deliver enough.