Saturday, 28 January 2012

Priest (2011)

Priest is a 2011 American post-apocalyptic science fiction action film starring Paul Bettany as the title character. The film, directed by Scott Stewart, is based on the Korean comic of the same name. In an alternate world, humanity and vampires have warred for centuries. After the last Vampire War, the veteran Warrior Priest (Bettany) lives in obscurity with other humans inside one of the Church's walled cities. When the Priest's niece (Lily Collins) is kidnapped by vampires, the Priest breaks his vows to hunt them down. He is accompanied by the niece's boyfriend (Cam Gigandet), who is a wasteland sheriff; and a former Warrior Priestess (Maggie Q).

The film first entered development in 2005, when Screen Gems bought the spec script by Cory Goodman. In 2006 Andrew Douglas was attached to direct and Gerard Butler was attached to star. They were eventually replaced by Stewart and Bettany in 2009 and filming started in Los Angeles, California, later in the year. The film changed release dates numerous times throughout 2010 and 2011. It was especially pushed back from 2010 to 2011 to convert the film from 2D to 3D. It was released in the United States and Canada on May 13, 2011.

The Plot

For centuries, a war has existed between the humans and the vampires. This conflict has devastated the planet's surface, making it unable to support life. The whole world became a theocracy under the mandate of a fictional organization known only as "The Church", which constructed walled cities to protect mankind and an elite group of warriors to turn in the tide against the vampires. They were dubbed "Priests"—humans blessed by God who were capable of slaying vampires. The majority of the vampires were killed, while the remainder were placed in reservations. With the war over, the Clergy, fearing what they had created, disbanded the Priests. Outside the cities, humans live free from the totalitarian control of the Church.

One day, a Priest is approached by Hicks, the sheriff of a nearby town called Augustine. Hicks tells him that his brother Owen was mortally wounded by a vamp-attack. His sister-in-law and ex-girlfriend Shannon was killed, and Priest's niece, Lucy, was kidnapped. Hicks asks for Priest's assistance in tracking down Lucy. Priest goes to the Clergy begging to have his authority reinstated, but the Head of the Clergy does not believe these claims and refuses. He goes further by ordering Priest not to take any action. Upset and disillusioned, Priest goes against the wishes of Monsignor Orelas, the Church's leader, to do so. Orelas then sends a group of four other Priests led by Priestess, a former comrade to Priest, to track him down, capture him and bring him back, dead or alive.

After saying goodbye to his dead brother, Priest and Hicks arrive at Nightshade Reservation where turned humans called Familiars (people infected with a pathogen that makes them subservient to the vampires) live alongside a number of the surviving vampires. After a fierce fight against the Familiars and the remaining vampires, the pair discovers that the vampires have taken shelter in Sola Mira, a vampire hive where Priest lost several of his comrade Priests in a botched/suicidal mission. There, they are joined by Priestess, who had decided before setting out that she was going to help rather than hinder Priest. The trio destroys a Hive Guardian, a large and vicious vampire, and then discovers that the vampires have bred a new army and dug a tunnel out of the mountain towards a town called Jericho. The other three Priests have arrived at Jericho, just as an armored train arrives, unleashing hundreds of vampires upon the population, and all led by a powerful and mysterious individual, whom they recognize as a former Priest himself. However, the man called Black Hat offers them a chance to join him or to die. The Priests refuse, and Black Hat defeats and kills them all, leaving them to hang on crosses for all to see.

Priest, Priestess, and Hicks arrive in Jericho while the sun is up and discover the town empty and the three Priests crucified. Shocked and confused at what has happened, Priest eventually realizes that the vampires have been using the trains to travel by day and attack the towns by night. They also realize that the trainline ends at the walled cities. The Priests quickly realize that because of the factories producing massive clouds of smoke and ash, there is no sun, even in the daylight. Realizing that a vamp-attack against the unprepared, sun-deprived cities would be a slaughter, Priest and his partners head out after them in order to stop the train from reaching the city.

While Priestess plants a bomb on the railroad tracks in order to stop the train, Priest and Hicks board the train and confront Black Hat, the vampires, and familiars. Black Hat overpowers both Priest and Hicks. Black Hat reveals that he was among the Priests who were defeated in the attack on the vampire hive at Sola Mira and that after being captured the vampire Queen gave him her blood, turning him into the first Vampire-Human hybrid and enhancing his already superhuman Priest abilities. He asks Priest to join him. Priest refuses and fights Black Hat, who reveals the truth of Lucy's parentage to the girl. Priestess meanwhile battles several Familiars who are trying to stop her from detonating the tracks, only to have the detonator be destroyed. She then places the explosives on her bike and rams it into the train engine. The explosion kills the vampires and seemingly engulfs Black Hat in fire, but Hicks, Priest, Priestess, and Lucy are able to escape.

Priest returns to the city and confronts Monsignor Orelas, telling him of the burnt train containing the vampires' bodies. He proves this by throwing a vampire head onto the floor. Orelas does not believe him, declaring that the war is over and that Priest's proof is trickery, only to have Priest tell him that it is just beginning as he walks out. Outside the city he meets Priestess and she reveals that the other Priests have been notified and will meet them at a rendezvous point. Priest sets off into the sunset.


Priest was panned by most critics. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 17% based on reviews from 89 critics and reports a rating average of 4 out of 10. It reported the overall consensus, though [G4] employee Chris Gore anounced a "buy" in his review. "Priest is admittedly sleek and stylish, but those qualities are wasted on a dull, derivative blend of sci-fi, action, and horror cliches". At Metacritic, which assigns a weighted average score out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the film received an average score of 41 based on 13 reviews, indicating mixed or average reviews''. FANGORIA Magazine gave the film 2 skulls out of 4, praising the sober use of the 3D and CGI effects, the effective action sequences, breathtaking scenarios and the acting from the main character players. IMDb rated it with an average 5.7 out of 10.

The Cast

Paul Bettany as Priest
Karl Urban as Black Hat
Cam Gigandet as Hicks
Maggie Q as Priestess
Lily Collins as Lucy Pace
Brad Dourif as Salesman
Stephen Moyer as Owen Pace
Christopher Plummer as Monsignor Orelas
Alan Dale as Monsignor Chamberlain
M├Ądchen Amick as Shannon Pace
Jacob Hopkins as Boy
Dave Florek as Crocker
Joel Polinsky as Dr. Tomlin
Josh Wingate as Familiar

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