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A legendary Warrior Priest from the last Vampire War now lives in obscurity among the other downtrodden human inhabitants in walled-in dystopian cities ruled by the Church. When his niece is abducted by a murderous pack of vampires, Priest breaks his sacred vows to venture out on an obsessive quest to find her before they turn her into one of them. He is joined on his crusade by his niece's boyfriend,...
For more about Priest and the Priest Blu-ray release, see the Priest Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on August 6, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Starring: Paul Bettany, Cam Gigandet, Maggie Q, Karl Urban, Lily Collins, Brad Dourif
Director: Scott Charles Stewart
» See full cast & crew
Priest Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, August 6, 2011
To go against the church is to go against God.
Apparently, Hollywood studios have figured out that it doesn't take much ingenuity or originality to entertain people anymore. What was once a medium for exciting new material or at the very least creative and fun mindless entertainment has become a cesspool of recycled ideas, poor plots, bad acting, and wholly unimaginative execution. Except for the truly atrocious few movies that earn the derision of even the average moviegoer, most modern pictures enjoy at least a semblance of success within the mainstream. So long as they're polished and their failings are covered up by slick directing, a palpable atmosphere, and computer trickery, most audiences will gladly fork over a few dollars for the privilege of being entertained by repetitive, unimaginative, and wholly worthless drivel that passes for everyday cinema in 2011. Priest is the latest ultra-stupid motion picture that features a slick veneer but absolutely no substance and, if it were possible, negative originality. It's an atmospheric and energetic but wholly generic motion picture that seems to borrow an idea, scene, line of dialogue, setting, character, or anything and everything else from some other, usually better, movie. It's the very definition of worthless cinema; it might look good on the surface, but this is one movie that's truly only skin-deep.
For all of history, man has battled vampire in a vicious war that devastated both sides and the world each calls "home." Unfortunately, the tide turned against man. Facing total defeat, mankind retreated behind the walls of the church where a select few known as "Priests" were trained in the art of warfare and built from the ground-up to wipe out vampires forever. With this new weapon in his arsenal, man rose from the ashes and vanquished the vampires -- or so he thought. Their services no longer needed, Priests were left to fend for themselves amongst average citizens, their skills no longer needed and their very purpose in life abruptly taken from them. Now, a new vampire threat is on the rise. When one of the church's most prized and skilled killers (Paul Bettany) learns that his family has been attacked by vampires and his niece Lucy (Lily Collins) has been taken prison by an evil force, he sets out against the church's wishes and, with the help of a Western sheriff by the name of Hicks (Cam Gigandet), vows to eliminate the new threat and retrieve his niece. Meanwhile, the church has summoned additional Priests to track down the rogue killer, prevent him from carrying out his mission, and return him dead or alive for final judgment.
Give Priest credit where credit is due. For as unoriginal as the film ultimately may be, it expertly combines a whole host of genre styles into one big and fairly coherent (if not still completely generic) motion picture. It's a Religious Post-Apocalyptic Science Fiction Horror Western, and it somehow balances all of those elements quite well, never overstating any single angle -- aside from the religious premise -- while seamlessly blending a black and blue depressing darkness with blinding and dry Western elements. But that's where the good stops and the bad starts. Priest is all about the superficial. It's as if Director Scott Charles Stewart -- who is the man behind the equally-ludicrous religiously-based flop Legion -- spent so much time guaranteeing that Priest would look and sound great that he completely forgot that there's more to a movie than its veneer. Not only is his plot completely derivative and lacking even a drop of originality -- it's a slick, odd, religious, end-of-the-world take on The Searchers -- his landscapes and atmosphere are lifted straight out of superior pictures, too. Whether the dark, seedy, electronically-dominated nighttime cityscape shots that are straight out of Blade Runner only replacing the commercialism with religiosity or the dusty Western venues-meet-high-tech action and excitement that look like something from Serenity, the picture just can't escape the feeling that every last little droplet of information has been taken from another source.
To make matters worse, the movie is so full of eye-rolling nonsense that even the bread-and-butter action scenes are ruined by grossly clichéd dialogue or ridiculous and overdone circus stunts and special effects. Priest is simply a rehash of the sort of action found in The Matrix and Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. It recycles the basic build of the no-eyes, all-mouth special effects creatures that look as of they've been lifted straight out of the Silent Hill and Resident Evil previsualization archives. And it boasts the corniest, unimaginative, just-get-the-script-done dialogue that's both laughably predictable and cringe-worthy at the same time. Imagine sitting down to write something like Priest and envision the total lack of creativity that's necessary to come up with a line that goes something like "no, this is only the beginning" to end the movie or a reading of the Biblical passage that states "yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil for Thou art with me" as a precursor to brandishing bladed cross-shaped weapons that will fillet a bunch of those generic CGI creatures, and in slow motion to boot. Yes, it's that sort of movie, and yes, it borders on genre Parody. It's laughably bad, and even for as competently put together as it may be from a technical perspective and for the fair amount of potential that does exist within the basic idea, Priest just crumbles around its own insistence on doing everything so by-the-book that by the time the movie is over it's difficult to remember anything but just how incredibly bad it is.
Priest Blu-ray, Video Quality
Priest sparkles on Blu-ray. Whether during its many blackened and dreary nighttime city segments or while featuring the bright and arid Western desert locales, Sony's 1080p transfer proves its mastery of each extreme. Though slight crush proves problematic in the blackest of scenes, most dark shots enjoy a natural balance and inky blacks that impress far more than the movie to which they give shape. Fine detail is exemplary, though of course it's best enjoyed in the brighter scenes where the lifelike textures of a dirt landscape, wooden planks, and human faces are about as realistic as 1080p is capable of delivering. Colors are limited primarily to the blacks and blues of the nighttime settings and the pale and dusty tans and browns of the dry outdoor locales, but Sony's transfer commendably handles the film's limited palette with ease. The image enjoys an exceptional film-like texture, made possible thanks to the retention of a slight layer of image-defining grain. A few minor bouts of banding are noticeable, but not nearly enough to do any appreciable harm to this fantastic release from Sony.
Priest Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Sony blesses Priest with an energetic DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless soundtrack that's as natural as it is vigorous. The track is at all times perfectly balanced. Music is crisp and spacious, enjoying well-defined highs, a strong midrange, and a naturally heavy low while seamlessly blending into the back channels. Atmospherics are superb; whether dripping water that positively pulls the audience into a darkened cave location at the beginning of the movie or gusty winds that blow throughout the listening area and all but ruffle the audience's hair, the track proves its ability to create seamless ambience no matter the setting or challenge. Action scenes make up the track's true defining element. Directional effects are splendid, and the full use of the entire soundstage -- along with a well-balanced low end -- draws the audience into the film's rip-off action scenes. Dialogue remains grounded in the center channel and, aside from a scene where it must contend with extraordinarily heavy winds, is always clear and intelligible. The movie may be nothing to speak of, but Sony's lossless soundtrack is every bit as good as one would expect it to be.
Priest Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Priest arrives on Blu-ray with a fair supplemental package that consists of a thorough picture-in-picture feature, a somewhat superfluous commentary, and two behind-the-scenes featurettes.
Priest Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Priest isn't worth the meager 87 minutes its asks of its audience. It's competently put together from a technical perspective, but forget any sort of originality in any area of the production. It's just a re-imagining of bits and pieces from other, mostly better, movies, and there's no artistic or thematic value of which to speak. This is big studio entertainment at its low point. Through sheer force of dollars thrown its way and a cast and crew that's at least competent, the movie just barely avoids the absolute bottom of the barrel. All that Priest is really good for is to serve as an example of a movie that's just blatantly unoriginal, but sadly such movies abound these days, effectively taking away its only real "positive." Sony's Blu-ray release of Priest does yield the expectedly high quality technical presentation, and there's a fair assortment of extras to boot. Unfortunately, gone are the days when a Blu-ray release may be recommended based on the strength of its technical presentation only; there are just too many good discs and too many vastly superior movies out there to warrant giving this one any sort of recommendation. Skip it.
Priest: Other Editions
Priest Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Blu-ray Sales, August 15-August 21: Priest is No. 1 - August 24, 2011
For the week ending 08/21/11, Priest bowed on top of the Blu-ray sales chart, but only reached the No. 3 spot in the overall package media sales chart. Sony's vampire hunter did not enjoy box office success, the film was made with a production budget of $60 million ...
• This Week on Blu-ray: August 16-22 - August 16, 2011
While The Big Lebowski will always been remembered for the hilarious misadventures of one of the greatest slackers of all time – The Dude – it should also be recognized for its detailed character development that only the Coen Brothers seem to have been able to ...
• Priest 2D & 3D Blu-rays - July 6, 2011
This August, Sony Pictures will release Priest on Blu-ray. This sci-fi/horror/western mash-up stars Paul Bettany (A Knight's Tale) as the titular character, a futuristic clergyman who breaks with the church to pursue the vampires that kidnapped his niece. Sony ...
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