Priest neither godly nor hellish

Shunned in society, Bettany’s character is drawn back to the world of ass-kicking when his family is attacked and his niece, Lucy, kidnapped by a pack of vampires. Condemned by the church officials for his intent to get her back, Priest is accompanied by Hicks (Cam Gigadnet), a backwater sheriff along for the ride because of his love for Lucy.


What it lacks in clever dialogue, Priest compensates for with wow-factor. Generally, 3D is used as a beard to distract from poor premise and shoddy directing, but this movie isn’t all bells and whistles. While the plot is simplistic, its straightforward story won’t make you feel like you got suckered for flashing lights and loud noises.


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Lacking the camp of Van Helsing and the slick, gothic sex appeal of Underworld, Priest fills those holes by actually casting a few decent actors for simplistic roles. No one of sound mind thinks “Paul Bettany” and “action star” at the same time but the Brit is effective as the brooding, malcontent retired soldier.


Karl Urban — who apparently does not make many movies on a scale other than epic — has a good if not inspired turn as the villainous Black Hat (yeah, AWESOME character names; what do you expect from an adaptation of a Korean graphic novel series?).


Maggie Q is woefully underdeveloped as Priestess, the movie’s hotness factor and source of sexual tension. Perhaps, if the box office draw is big enough, they’ll do a better job with her character in the inevitable sequel; the ending leaves the possibility wide open.


While this movie, like all other graphic novel adaptations, must have fanboys everywhere screaming in nerdrage, it’s an enjoyable enough way to spend 90 minutes worth of a summer afternoon. By no means revelatory or award-winning, Priest is a guilty pleasure that won’t send you running for the confessional.


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Who decided it would be a good idea that the guy who played Chaucer in A Knight’s Tale and the murderous monk Silas in The Da Vinci Code should be turned into a cross between a Jedi, a ninja and Abraham Van Helsing, with a bit of Chuck Norris thrown in for good measure?

A genius, that’s who. Or at least the guy with ideas so crazy they just might work.

Paul Bettany makes a credible badass as the eponymous, vamp-killing protagonist in Priest, a not-as-horrible-as-it-looks summer popcorn flick and the latest post-apocalyptic vampire flick to see the big screen.

The premise is a muddling of varied dystopia mixed with historical themes — think 1984 and Brave New World meet the Spanish Inquisition and the theocracy of the Holy Roman Empire. After victory in the long-fought war with the race of vampires, human civilization is ruled by Big Brother, in the form of the Church. The base, animalistic vampires are left to rot in subterranean reservations. The heroic Knights Templar of the time, warrior-clergy known simply as Priests, are disbanded by the ruling class for fear of their power.

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