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“Priest) - {Blu-Ray}
Reviewer:
Roxanne Romero
Studio: Sony
Genre:
Horror
Release Date:
8/16/2011
Special Features:

Audio commentary, featurettes, deleted scenes, trailers Rating: Unrated

Review:

In a world where man has been warring with vampires for all of history, both sides are being destroyed. Man is losing and is forced to retreat behind the thick, high walls of the church. Enter Priests, gifted people who are honed their entire lives to eradicate the vampire menace. They succeed and, thinking the vampires all gone, are forced to rejoin society, branded though they were. The niece Lucy (Lily Collins) of one of the strongest, most skilled Priests (Paul Bettany) is kidnapped, her family slaughtered by vampires. Because the church refuses to believe him, Priest takes it upon himself to find her, breaking a direct order of the church. He reluctantly enlists the help of a local sheriff, Hicks (Cam Gigandet), who has a secret relationship with Lucy. Meanwhile, the church sends the other priests, including the sole female, Priestess (Maggie Q) after their former mate with the task of returning him dead or alive. As Priest journeys closer to recusing his niece, he begins to unravel more secrets about the vampire menace than the church could have ever imagined.***

There are only a few things "Priest" does right. It is a seamless blend of the most random film genres ever. It's like Director Scott Stewart threw a bunch a little strips of paper into a hat and drew some out at random. It isn't a horrible movie, it just falls short in every aspect. Dialogue is cheesy and easily predictable. The religious theme is so overplayed that it is laughable. Paul Bettany's performance leaves much to be desired. He creates quite an unlikable character and it's hard to root for him at all. In fact, he takes to little joy in his existence, that the seemingly carefree villain, Black Hat (Karl Urban), is easily favored. Lucy (Collins) is shrieking blob through most of the film and it is a wonder Collins was able to speak after filming. Maggie Q tries hard, but with a weak character, she can only do so much. Priestess suffers from a lack of information about her to really make the audience care. Black Hat and Hicks are the only two bright points in this film, bringing the only real enjoyable moments. The plot has been seen and done before and the visuals all feel as though they have been lifted from another source. The action sequences, while action packed, are that nonsensical slow-montion style that went out back with the third Matrix movie. The flow of the film is choppy as though one is seeing incomplete thoughts more than a coherent story. Everything about this film will make you wonder exactly where you saw that before and while it earns points for reinventing the vampire mythos, it isn't enough to save the film.***

Image & Sound: If there is one thing "Priest" excels at, it's Blu-Ray video. This film practically explodes off the screen. Every fine, minute detail is represented perfectly. The colors, while limited due to the film's specific style, are masterfully handled with both ends of the spectrum handled wonderfully. Whites are bright, and pure; Blacks are deep, unending and inky. Whether the film is catching the unique amber hue of Black Hat's eyes or the deep sapphire of Priest's, it hits the mark. ***

Sony scored another point with the soundtrack on this release. I was completely immersed in the film. The audio surrounds the audience so closely that one might smell the desert air they hear around them. The dialogue is crisp, and easily understandable. From the first vampire screech to the last words Paul Bettany says, this soundtrack impresses.

Special Features:

In keeping with the fantastic release, "Priest" has slew of extras to keep anyone busy. "Bullets and Crucifixes: Picture-in-Picture Experience" is one of the most interesting and in depth commentary/featurettes I have ever seen. It's a detailed discussion with the cast and crew over the film's origins, themes, unique look, characters and pretty much everything else. Behind-the-scenes footage supplements this extra, but the real joy is watching those who worked so hard on this film talk about literally everything that went into making it. After that, the "Audio Commentary" offered seems a little redundant, but Director Scott Steward, Actors Paul Bettany and Maggie Q and Writer Cory Goodman give a few extra tidbits in a different style that make this worth listening to. "The Bloody Frontier: Creating the World of 'Priest'" features the cast and crew talking about the challenges they faced as the world of "Priest" was brought to life and "Tools of the Trade: The Weapons and the Vehicles of 'Priest'" is a detailed look at awesome gadgets created for the film. Several deleted and extended scenes, and various trailers close out Sony's A+ release.

Final Words:

It is truly a shame that Sony rocked this Blu-Ray release with a film that deserves way less. 'Priest" is choppy, unoriginal and boasts an unsympathetic protagonist. Visually, the film is passable, though only barely. The real standout moment is the performance of Karl Urban as Black Hat. If you aren't a die-hard fan of Bettany, Q, or Urban, skip this release.

 

 
 
 
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