Priest (2011) – Movie Review

o4fvnd2fqqqohmmxs8cqbegplkwIt’s not as insanely ridiculous as it seems.

In fact, bits and pieces of it are almost as cool as it tries to be. Mostly those bits are the costume and character designs, but some of the sets and setpieces are a pretty decent blend of cyber-desert-animepunk. The cast is also *cough* very good looking. They don’t have all that much to do, overall, but they’re pleasant to look at and really good at posing in long, flowy dusters with ominous, face-shrouding hoods. And, while there are the expected slams against organized religion of a certain *cough* flavor, it’s slightly moderated by a) I knew they were coming, b) the genuine heroism and faith displayed by the ground-level characters–the Priest and Priestess who are the ones who actually put their lives on the line, who fight to protect, who have not become complaisant, and who have never sought power over others.

The biggest factor in this movie’s favor is that, bar a short segment at the beginning, there isn’t a whole lot cringy, hamhandedly-delivered, poorly-written exposition. Vampires = exist. Priests = kill vampires. That’s it. Everything else is implied, and by “implied,” we mean, Because It Looks Cool, Do I Have To Explain Why His Shuriken Look Like Crosses? No? I Thought Not.

I can get behind cool. I can’t get behind cringy.

Overall, if this had been the slightly higher budget pilot movie to a cyberdesertanimepunk TV show, it would have been pretty cool. There’s actually enough side detail that I ended up wishing the world and side characters (the immediately-killed repressive but still loving parental figures, the Monsignor who forbids The Priest from going to the damsel’s rescue but doesn’t bat an eye when he storms violently out to do so; the pro-vampire snake oil salesman…who, admittedly, does get the additional characterization of being Brad Dourif, but still) had been fleshed out a little more. How do the cities work? Exactly what is their level of technology? What sort of communication systems are there? What do the Priests do when they are not at war? Other than the obvious, how come there’s desert and how come there are trains?

So, anyhow: plot. There are vampires (even though there aren’t supposed to be any more), and they kidnap this girl. The Priest goes out to rescue her (even though he isn’t supposed to), along with the girl’s boyfriend, who on paper is a pretty decent badass but on film is played by someone who couldn’t act his way out of a cardboard box. The Priestess catches up with them, because she’s supposed to be bringing The Priest in dead or alive, but she has a long-standing crush on him and joins them instead. They figure out: a) that there are lots of vampires, b) heading towards the city, c) on a train, d) that the head vampire (Karl Urban, looking spookily like Harry Dresden) and e) the girl are on. And that’s it. That’s the plot. Oh, and there are motorcycles, because why not?

And…my standards might be declining with each passing weekend, but…

I kinda liked it.