Review of Priest

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Scott Stewart directs this sci-fi thriller based on the Korean comic of the same name. Set in a world ravaged by war between man and vampire, a legendary Warrior Priest (Paul Bettany) is forced to disobey church law in tracking down the vampires who kidnapped his niece (Lily Collins). Joining him on his crusade are his niece's boyfriend (played by Cam Gigandet), a young wasteland sheriff, and a former Warrior Priestess (Maggie Q).
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Movie Review: Priest

Rating: PG-13

Release Date: May 13, 2011

Directed by: Scott Charles Stewart

Genre: Action, Horror, Sci-Fi

'Priest' is a tale of human survival and rescue in a world that is quickly being taken over by vampires. Humans have lost the battle against their otherworldly counterparts and must now live in glum clusters in cities that have largely been annihilated, fearing for their lives at all times. The title character, played by Paul Bettany, is simply known as Priest. He sets out on a mission in this dim apocalyptic world to find his niece Lucy (Lily Collins) who has been abducted. He is joined on the dangerous quest by Lucy's boyfriend Hicks (Cam Gigandet) and former associate Priestess (Maggie Q).

The audience is never told if this is the past, present or future, just that vampires have nearly finished taking over the world. The mission to find Lucy proves to be a very dangerous one because they will have to fight the renegade vampires who took her. There is also the possibility of Lucy being bitten and infected by the vampires. Priest vows to kill her should she be infected, causing a rift between him and the lovelorn Hicks.

As the three conduct their search, the audience learns a little bit about Priest's past. His best friend (Karl Urban) was killed by vampires while Priest watched, unable to help him. When Priest and company find the mountain "hive" where Lucy is being held, he runs into his friend again, only this time he is now a human vampire named Black Hat.

Because Black Hat knows what a great and tireless fighter Priest can be, he and his band of renegades kidnapped Lucy to draw him out with the intent of murdering him. After killing Priest, he plans to send a whole horde of new vampires by train into the city to kill off the remaining humans.

The trio of heroes must stop the train before it reaches the city while also saving Lucy. It is here that the references to other famous post-apocalyptic and science fiction movies come out. Anyone who is a fan of either of these genres will love pointing out all the similarities. For example, Priest at one point must run through a seemingly endless group of slimy pods that seems to pay homage to Invasion of the Body Snatchers. A few of the characters could have been torn straight from a Mad Max poster. There are even references to Into the West and Searchers.

Combine this with the comic book look that the movie often employs and it becomes a playground for movie and comic geeks who love spotting the references. This can be a bit distracting at times, but it is still great fun and helps to lighten the mood. This world run over by doom and vampires is so grimy and fatalistic that there needs to be something to buoy up the audience lest they start to become dour as well.

There is plenty of action, much of it computer-generated. Bettany and especially Maggie Q show off some great fighting skills even as Q's costumes seem too skintight to be plausible for a warrior. The scenes are accompanied by a rousing score by Christopher Young. The music is a mixture of rousing chamber music and eerie chorale vocals that fight in perfectly with the mood of the film.

With lots of fights, a great score and plenty of other movie references, "Priest" is sure to entertain. Clocking in at just under 90 minutes, it is long enough to tell a good vampire tale and set it up for a possible sequel without dragging it out for too long.