Usually, when I go to a film and have no expectations, I find myself enjoying the movie. After all, it’s hard to be disappointed when you expect nothing. Though I felt the same way going into Priest, the movie has so many high and low points that I’m still working out whether I like it or not.
Very loosely based on a Korean comic of the same name, Priest is set in an alternate Earth where vampires and humans have fought for millennia. The war has turned the world into a wasteland, and mankind has eventually won by creating, through unexplained means, superhuman warriors called priests. This intro is told in a beautiful animated sequence done by Genndy Tartakovsky, of Dexter’s Laboratory and Sym-bionic Titan fame, which you can check out above. After the priests kill a bunch of vampires, the rest are put into vampire reservations.. The priests are then disbanded and the movie begins. The main character, known only as The Priest, finds out his niece is captured by vampires and breaks the “no leaving the city” rule to find her.
Even though the source material for Priest is excellent, its plot falls flat on its face. A running joke while I was watching this film with my friend Eric from BowTieCat was to count the cliches we found. This movie has nearly every bad science fiction cliche I could think of. In fact, here’s a list of a few:
-Dystopian future ruled by religion
-“The War” is over, warriors are poorly reintegrated into society and feared
-Warriors are not allowed to be warriors
-Government denies any evidence of a threat
-Former comrades are sent to kill the main character
I could go on, but I’ll spare you. As we walked out at the end, we joked about Cliche: The Movie It doesn’t help that Priest completely strays from its source material. The comic has nothing to do with a vampire and human war, it actually covers the story of a fallen angel that tries to destroy humanity, and the priest that fights back. Though the main character is somewhat lifted from the comics, the two plots are completely different, and have almost no similarity. If you go to Priest hoping for an adaptation, you will be sorely mistaken.
And yet, I can’t say I hated this film. The action sequences are well done, the CGI is impressive, and the vampire character design is quite good (Vampires with no eyes: it just makes sense!). This isn’t high art, or even low art, but Priest does manage to entertain at the level of big dumb action movie. It’s just disappointing that the writers had to stray so far from the source material just to make the movie more “Hollywood”.
Priest ends up being a film I’d put on my Netflix queue not to watch, but to have background noise while I do something else. I’m not saying don’t watch this movie, but I’d wait until it hits DVD. Priest just isn’t worth your 17 bucks or whatever those crooks at the theater charge these days.