Wednesday, May 11, 2011

PRIEST - Dull, Derivative Drivel

PRIEST (sci-fi actioner in 3D)
Cast: Paul Bettany, Karl Urban, Cam Gigandet, Maggie Q, Lily Collins, Brad Dourif, Stephen Moyer and Christopher Plummer
Director: Scott Stewart
Screenplay by: Cory Goodman from graphic novels by Hyung Min-Woo
Time: 87 mins
Rating: * * (out of 4)

Bettany (left) and 'vampire'

PREAMBLE: Based on the graphic novel series by Hyung Min-Woo, Priest re-teams Legion director Scott Stewart and Paul Bettany for another tale about fighting marauding monsters. Here, Bettany plays the title character - not unlike the albino masochist he played in Da Vinci Code.

I don't care much for Bettany in what must be a familiar role by now. It is Maggie Q who interests me - and I am sure most of the guys in the audience too. For the ladies, there is Cam Gigandet.

SYNOPSIS: In an 'alternate world', a warrior priest (Bettany) from the last Vampire War now lives in obscurity among the other downtrodden inhabitants in walled-in cities ruled by the Church led by Monsignor Orelas (Christopher Plummer). When his niece Lucy (Lily Collins) is abducted by a murderous pack of vampires, the Priest breaks his sacred vows to venture out on a quest to find her before the vampires turn her into one of them.

He is joined on his mission by his niece's boyfriend Hicks (Gigandet), a trigger-happy young sheriff, and a former warrior priestess (Maggie Q, pictured above) who possesses extraordinary fighting skills.

REVIEW: I have not seen or read Hyung's graphic novels upon which this film is based but I can't imagine Hyung borrowing and recycling ideas and themes from movies like Blade Runner, Star Wars and Mad Max 2 like what Stewart does here. Priest opens like last year's turkey Jonah Hex - and degenerates into a shoot-'em-up type of video game with its leads blasting away scores of eyeless ghouls that are meant to be vampires.

The dialogue is badly written and, as expected, Bettany, Maggie Q and Gigandet (right) get lots of ass-kicking time, especially against a Black Hat villain played by Karl Urban. Stephen Moyer (aka Bill Compton in TV's True Blood) has a cameo here as Lucy's father, Owen Pace, with Madchen Amick as his wife.

Don't bother watching this in 3D as it has nothing to enhance visually. The one thing about Priest that I am thankful for is its short running time - at a forgettable 87 minutes.

THE LOWDOWN: A dark, dour and derivative drivel.


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