Movies – Undead and arresting

2011-05-13 14:49

Film: Priest (Ster-Kinekor)
Director: Scott Charles Stewart
Featuring: Paul Bettany, Karl ­Urban, Maggie Q and Cam ­Gigandet
Rating: 7/10

Paul Bettany and his ­Legion director, Scott Charles ­Stewart, stick with the religious theme for their second outing, Priest. Based on Korean artist Hyung Min-woo’s Priest series of graphic novels, this is a ­visually arresting piece of cinema.

The original series, which features an undead hero and a whole lot of Christian iconography, is set in three different time periods – contemporary, the Crusades and the Wild West. This film blends all the periods to create an interesting ­hybrid setting.

Bettany’s character, Priest, and his vampire-­battling ­order are decked out in flowing robes reminiscent of the Vatican and the ­Inquisition, complete with great big ­crucifixes.

The city where Priest lives is full of modern conveniences and a Big Brother atmosphere, while the religious ceremonies feel like Catholic High Mass. Once the character escapes the city gates – on a futurist motorcycle – the essence of the Wild West is in every abandoned building, every frontier town and in the barrenness of the land.

The story is simple. Priest and his order have been ­decommissioned because the terrible vampire threat is now contained. The few remaining vampires live in reservations and the people are kept safely behind high city walls where the church reigns supreme.

After Priest’s niece is ­taken hostage, he defies his orders to find her and ­discovers along the way that the vampire threat has evolved into something even more ungodly than before.

Priest follows in the visual footsteps of a trend that started with Sin City, and its vampiric theme is hardly anything new given the current Hollywood obsession with bloodsuckers. However, the film’s setting is imaginative and Bettany is an ­arresting leader.

Horror and action fans will get a kick out of Priest, but it definitely doesn’t qualify as a date movie.


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