Combustible Celluloid
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With: Paul Bettany, Cam Gigandet, Maggie Q, Karl Urban, Christopher Plummer, Lily Collins, Stephen Moyer, Brad Dourif, Alan Dale, Mädchen Amick, Jacob Hopkins, Dave Florek, Joel Polinsky, Josh Wingate, Jon Braver
Written by: Cory Goodman, based on a comic book by Hyung Min-Woo
Directed by: Scott Charles Stewart
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, disturbing images and brief strong language
Running Time: 87
Date: 04/26/2011

Priest (2011)

2 Stars (out of 4)

Losing My Religion

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

With Priest, former special effects man Scott Stewart turns in a movie much like his feature debut, Legion: great-looking but lifeless. It begins with an interesting combination of a post-apocalyptic sci-fi movie, vampire lore, and the American West, with a commentary on organized religion thrown in. It also cooks up some dazzling landscapes and sets that deserve comparison to Blade Runner. But after that, the movie simply borrows ideas without much joy or enthusiasm.

Many years ago, our hero, known only as Priest (Paul Bettany), and others like him fought a war against a race of faceless vampires. Now that war is over and the priests are having a hard time fitting in: until a new band of vampires attacks and kidnaps a member of the Priest's family. Along with the cowboy-like Hicks (Cam Gigandet) and one of his former colleagues (Maggie Q) Priest heads out into the wastelands beyond the dark, ruined cities to find clues. Unfortunately, it looks as if Priest's brutal past is about to catch up with him, in the form of a new breed of vampire. Can he pull off the rescue and stop the new vampire attack?

The dour, depressing, wooden characters don't help much. Not even memorable cult actors like Brad Dourif, Steven Moyer (of TV's "True Blood") or M├Ądchen Amick (formerly of TV's "Twin Peaks") can help. Nobody appears to be having much fun. The scary moments are old hat, and the fight scenes are gray and choppy and don't generate much excitement. Fans of the comic book by Hyung Min-woo would probably do better to stick to the printed page.

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