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The Definitive Verdict on PRIEST 3D - Is it Worth Watching?

In this new column we are going to take a sample of popular horror based reviews (from all over the net) to get to be as accurate as posble on deciding whether a film is worth watching, not watching or waiting for the after market DVD/Blu-ray run. You, being the rabid horror fans will also have the ablitly to weigh in by giving us your reviews and taking the poll on whether a particular movie is worth shelling out the cash at the box office.

Our frist film is Sony's PRIEST 3D that debuted at the box office on Friday, May 13 2011. How did it fare? Well we go to the reviews and your verdicts to find out.

Sadly this film has only been reviewed by us and two other major horror outlets. Feel free to post your thoughts and reviews below as well.

Plot Synops: Priest is set in a world ravaged by centuries of war between man and vampires. Paul Bettany is Priest, a legendary warrior priest during the last Vampire War, who now lives in obscurity among the other human inhabitants in walled-in dystopian cities controlled by the Church. But when his 18-year-old niece is abducted by a murderous pack of vampires in the desolate wastelands outde, Priest breaks his sacred vows and ventures out to find her and seek vengeance upon those responble, especially their brutal leader (Karl Urban). Priest is joined on his crusade by his niece’s boyfriend, Hicks (Cam Gigandet), a local outpost sheriff, and Priestess (Maggie Q), a member of his former legion of vampire-killers who has otherworldly fighting skills.
Horror Domain - Cursed Evil Overlord Sunday 5/15/2011 at 10:33 AM | 76392

Review Written By: Chris Eggertsen

Priest, the second directorial effort from Legion helmer Scott Stewart, is yet another apocalyptic action/horror film that's heavy on breathless spectacle and light on just about everything else that matters. Like Legion, the setting is again a dust-covered desert wasteland, albeit this time around on a parallel Earth that's been decimated by both nuclear war and a centuries-old battle between humans and a race of vicious animalistic vampires.

Very loosely adapted from the TokyoPop comic book of the same name created by Hyung Min-woo, the movie tells the story of a Jedi-like warrior Priest (Paul Bettany), who along with his former comrades has been relegated to the fringes of society – their prominent crucifix facial tattoos a permanent gnifier of their role on the front lines of the war against the vampires. In an early scene we witness the effects of their social ostracization when a young boy is quickly ushered away from Priest by his mother, who casts wary glances back at him amid frantic whispers of “we don't talk to Priests”.

After a brief animated prologue depicting the history of this alternate reality (hand-drawn by Samurai Jack creator Genndy Tartakovsky), we are quickly thrown into the story when we witness a teenage girl and her parents being attacked by an army of vampires at an isolated outpost. The adults slaughtered as their horrified daughter takes refuge in a cellar, we cut away just as her hiding place is discovered and the shadow of an impong figure engulfs her cowering frame.

It turns out that the girl is Priest's teenaged niece Lucy (Lily Collins) and her kidnapper a powerful half-vampire/half-human known as Black Hat (Karl Urban), who is leading a new crop of the animalistic bloodsuckers in a rebellion against the human race. Receiving news of her capture from a hotheaded young lawman named Hicks (Cam Gigandet) – also Lucy's boyfriend – Priest springs into action over the protestations of his superiors, a corrupt group of steely-eyed mongnors who exercise an almost Orwellian grip over the remaining human population.

Dispatched by the mongnors to hunt him down (“dead or alive”) along with three other warrior priests is the beautiful Priestess (Maggie Q), who summarily defies the mongnors' orders and joins up with the two men in their quest to save Lucy from becoming one of the “Familiars” – a word used for half-human/half-vampires who are kept as pale-eyed slaves by their full-blooded counterparts in the quarantined areas to which they have been relegated.

Thankfully, Stewart and Legion co-writer Peter Schink aren't responble for the script this time around, which was instead penned by newcomer Cory Goodman (Apollo 18). Given the former pair's tendency toward both narrative illogic and expotory dialogue spew in Legion, this is definitely a step in the right direction (“When I was a shawty” may go down as one of the most ill-advised bits of dialogue ever written for a mainstream film), though it's not to say that the script here is necessarily good - it's still rather prosaic and dispensable. Nevertheless, it possesses a welcome sense of forward momentum that was largely absent from Stewart's previous effort.

Also on the potive de, Priest is yet another potent demonstration of Stewart's conderable strengths as a visual stylist. While I could've done without the CG-rendered vamps (the utilization of practicals in the close-up shots would've gone a long way in making them feel like actual threats rather than the diaphanous video-game baddies they come across as here) and the post-converted 3-D, there are several sequences of kinetic, beautifully-composed action in the film – particularly in the third act speeding-train showdown – that are a five-star feast for the eyes. The widescreen vistas concocted by Stewart and cinematographer Don Burgess are also truly stunning, giving the proceedings a Leone-esque scope that is ultimately betrayed by the relative dullness of what actually happens.

Indeed, all the eye-popping visuals in the world can't paper over the hollow core that lays at the heart of Priest. Though the cast is fine and does more or less what the shallow script requires of them, the character moments are rote when they should have been redemptive. There are of course the requite romantic elements here – both between Priest and Priestess (their barely-apparent “sexual tenon” hindered by his oath of celibacy) and Hicks and Lucy – but rather than elevate the film's emotional stakes, they instead land with a resounding thud that would no doubt echo far and wide across the film's cracked and magnificent dystopian landscape.

Score: 5 / 10

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Horror Domain - Cursed Evil Overlord Sunday 5/15/2011 at 10:36 AM | 76393
From Review Written By: Foywonder

A cool post-apocalyptic vampire flick with a badass vampire killer, characters you care about, qua-religious overtones, and some genuine pathos. But enough about Stake Land; I’m here to review Priest.

The moment the opening back-story was told in the form of anime, I experienced a serious flashback to last year’s Jonah Hex debacle. Little did I realize at that moment that eighty some odd minutes later I’d be walking out of the theater realizing I had just watched this year’s Jonah Hex. That’s not an entirely fair comparison nce I at least found Jonah Hex to be laughably bad. This is just crap. I’ve not read the graphic novel on which Priest is based so I can only assume that Hollywood has once again taken cool source material, stripped it down to its bare bones, and attempted to make it cool in all the wrong ways.

Priest starts off with loads of potential. The world of Priest – a horror hybrid of Judge Dredd cyberpunk and Wild West steampunk – is an intriguing one. The idea of a vampire war leading to a world turned into a totalitarian theocracy dominated by a church filling the air with Orwellian platitudes, forcing citizens at gunpoint to confess their ns in automated dewalk confesonal booths and the notion of a select group of vampire-slaying monks supposedly hand-selected by God being phased out now that the war is over and the Church’s hierarchy refung to believe vampires still exist, condering it blasphemy to even speak it, left me wanting to know more. The revelation that outde the confines of the dark mega-cities lie frontier towns straight out of the Wild West right down to its denizens walking and talking like Tom Nix cowboys – okay, that part was a little too hokey for me.

Still, there’s a world of potential here and none of it is tapped by a script that reduces every ngle person, place, and thing to an unimaginative cliché that grows progresvely worse with every pasng minute. By the finale I found myself angry at the mple-mindedness of it all. A human name is credited with the screenplay, but based on the heinously perfunctory dialogue alone, I refuse to believe this screenplay wasn’t just typed out by some automated screenwriting program.

The saddest thing about Paul Bettany is that he already played a milar character in the jaw-droppingly bad Legion (same director, milar results) yet made more of it in that idiotic flick than in this stale production. We know he’s a badass because we see him kill vampires with ease. We know he’s got deep faith because he has that Ash Wednesday tattoo on his forehead. We know he’s experiencing spiritual turmoil because he repeatedly says early on that he has questions, not that anything comes of that aspect of his personality because doing so would require both interest in character development and an ounce of philosophical thought inserted into the storyline.

Looking and sounding like he might have been confused into thinking he actually was playing a villainous vampire cowboy in Jonah Hex 2, Karl Urban allows himself to be completely wasted as a warrior priest turned vampire that for some reason has waited until now to bring about the destruction of mankind for reasons given so little thought the script barely bothers to give him any motivation at all.

Urban sent a vampire horde to kill the frontiersman brother (and his wife played by Madchen Amick, making me wonder what the hell happened to her career) of Paul Bettany’s nameless Priest (whom I seriously wanted to start calling “Father Dredd”) and kidnapped their 18-year-old daughter to use as bait. Whatever personal dynamic there is between him and Priest is imposble to give a damn about because their entire history consts of a rushed flashback where they exchange maybe two or three brief lines of dialogue. There’s also a surprise revelation about the girl meant to give more emotional weight to Priest’s need to rescue her that is as predictable as it is lame.

Priest has to stop his former colleague and his trainload of vampires before they reach the city. Once again, Hollywood has presented us with a movie villain whose plan might have worked if he didn’t go out of his way to spite himself. If he hadn’t intentionally lured Priest to come after him, nobody would have ever known what was coming until it was too late. He should start a support group for inept supernatural movie villains with “Jumby” from The Unborn and the Devil from Season of the Witch.

Every embarrasng sentence out of Karl Urban’s mouth during the climactic confrontation with Priest sounds like it was culled from a book of stock movie villain lines. ”Join me, brother, and we can rule together” or something like that. “Your faith has failed you” - whatever the hell that means in the context of a kung fu fight atop a speeding train. Just cringe inducing.

Now Urban isn’t a true vampire; he’s what is called a familiar: a human turned into a vampire that can survive in sunlight unlike the real vampire that made him. The real vampires look more like Aliens and live in mountainous hives. They jump around hisng, clawing and snapping at victims just like an Alien. There’s a weird scene in a frontier town where familiars talk about serving their masters; how does one serve what appears to be a mindless monster with no means of communication?

Horrifying as it for me to say this, Stephen Sommers may have been on to something after all. These vamps prefer to sleep in membranous sacks generated from their own slimy excretions, not all that unlike Dracula’s winged froggy offspring that hatched from wasp sacks in Van Helng. I refuse to live in a world where anything seen in Van Helng may prove accurate to vampire lore.

Cam Gigandet is his usual awful self as young frontier lawman Hicks, so desperate to save that niece he’s in love with before she gets turned into a vampire and Priest is forced to kill her, too. At first it appears the film is setting up a mentorship storyline with Priest teaching Hicks the tricks of the vampire-killing trade, only for all that to fall by the wayde once Maggie Q as La Priest Nikita joins them on their hunt. The relationship between her and Priest feels like it would have romantic subtext if this script had any comprehenon of what subtext is.

Need further proof of how badly the script kills the movie? All the city scenes are nighttime. Priest tells Hicks there is only darkness in the cities because the sun doesn’t shine there anymore. Why is this? We’ll never know because Priest just drops the topic and walks away immediately after stating such. That’s not the kind of fact a movie like this should just throw out there and then not bother to explain. Same goes for the vampire queen subplot that goes nowhere. I really could go on and on, much like the countless shots of characters speeding across the desert on their funky motorcycles the director was so clearly enamored with.

For some the action scenes might be enough to salvage this drivel. Kung fu, slow motion kung fu, exploons, desert motorcycle chases: save for one or two inspired kills, I found the action to be quite unremarkable. A plethora of stabbings, dismemberments, and jugular ripping; all irritatingly edited to assure the PG-13 rating. Even the 3D does nothing to make Priest standout.

Truth be told, if Priest had been a Syfy original movie made on their typically low budget, I seriously doubt anyone would have much potive to say ade from acknowledging its neat premise. nce Priest has some slick production values, icky monsters, and copious amounts of kung fu, I’ve no doubt it will get a much undeserved pass from some. I mean look how many Redent Evil movies there have been.

1 1/2 knives out of 5

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Horror Domain - Cursed Evil Overlord Sunday 5/15/2011 at 10:38 AM | 76394
First off I LOVE THIS NEW SYSTEM HORRORBID! Now onto my review.

Did we really need another Legion? Okay, Priest might be slightly better than Paul Bettany's other recent supernatural action film, but not by much. It's another vampire movie. Well...a group of ninja like Priests against vampires. There are a couple of neat visuals and action scenes, but the story, dialogue and acting needed some serious help. I left the theater thinking what a pointless mess Priest was. This is coming from someone who liked the Underworld and Blade movies. I even enjoyed Daywalkers. I don't mind stupid movies, but this one lacked any sense of fun and I ultimately left wishing I waited to rent this one.

I give it a big fat D all the way! Don't got see this one. Wait if you must to watch it via Netflix.
Shakelford, J. Rusty Sunday 5/15/2011 at 11:08 AM | 76396
This was crap, the last vampire hunting I will ever see unless another blade movie comes this because it seemed like the vampire hunting movie started to suck after blade 3. -10/10
hm4life Sunday 5/15/2011 at 01:08 PM | 76398