Priest review / Susan Granger
Based on Min-Woo Hyung's series of South Korean graphic novels, this is a creepy vicars-versus-vampires tale, starring Paul Bettany (the evil monk in "The Da Vinci Code") as a tortured Roman Catholic Warrior Priest with a large cross tattoo on his forehead. In a post-apocalyptic, alternate world - with the war-ravaged backstory revealed in an animated prologue - humans have taken refuge in grimy, neon-lit, Church-ruled, walled cities, while vampires are confined in underground "reservations."
But a few humans still do hardscrabble farming, like Owen Pace (Stephen Moyer, familiar from "True Blood"), his wife (Madchen Amick) and their 18 year-old daughter Lucy (Lily Collins). But when a huge band of rebellious vampires attacks Owen, kills his wife and kidnaps Lucy, who happens to be the niece of this legendary, vampire-slaying Warrior Priest, he embarks from Cathedral City on a forbidden quest to rescue her, vowing that he will kill her if she's been infected. At his side is Lucy's boyfriend, trigger-happy Sheriff Hicks (Cam Gigandet) - and chasing them is a quartet of black-clad, clerical vampire hunters, including a Warrior Priestess (Maggie Q) whose loyalty may be with the defiant Priest. They're following orders issued by sinister Monsignor Orelas (Christopher Plummer), who piously proclaims, "Going against the church is going against God!"
While the Priest and Sheriff careen through the desert wasteland on elongated, solar-powered motorcycles, vampires travel on a special windowless railroad train which the good guys must commandeer, as chaotic confusion reigns.
With a screenplay by Cory Goodman and directed by Scott Stewart ("Legion"), it's shamelessly derivative sci-fi, evoking memories of "The Searchers," "Blade Runner," "Mad Max," "The Matrix" and Sergio Leone's spaghetti Westerns, among others. The dialogue spills cliches, making actors like Karl Urban squirm as the half-human vampire Black Hat villain. And since the 3D was applied in post-production, it adds little to the mayhem and is not worth the extra box-office fee.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Priest" is a pulpy, futuristic 4, ending with "To be continued," thereby setting the stage for sequels.