With Screen Gems’ Priest, a supernatural action pic starring Paul Bettany and directed by Scott Stewart right around the corner, I’m wondering if it’s not just going to be a vampire-themed version of Legion. Not only did Stewart helm Legion, an apocalyptic action film with warring angels, but Bettany starred in it. And by the looks of Priest trailers and clips, Bettany will be reprising his steely-eyed role as a sacred-warrior-on-a-mission. That’s just what we need, another supernatural film flop full of so-so CGI and action mayhem, but completely lacking any substantive story.
In theaters on May 13th, Priest is being described as a vampire western. Based on a Korean graphic novel of the same name, the film is set in a dystopian world where humans and vampires have been battling for centuries. As part of a kind of obsolete religious warrior class, Bettany plays the titular character who breaks his vows after his niece (Lily Collins) is kidnapped by vampires. He sets out to save her before she becomes a vampire slave, taking along a warrior priestess (Maggie Q), and his niece’s trigger-happy sheriff boyfriend Hicks (Cam Gigandet).
I don’t need to list the vampire-themed action/thrillers that have been flooding theaters in the last few years like a backed-up toilet. No doubt everyone has seen one or two, at least. From ridiculous plotlines to terrible CG effects, it seems like an effective vampire action flick is as elusive as finding the Holy Grail. Another worrisome aspect of the upcoming Priest is the heavy reliance on CGI, as the vampires will be completely animated. I’d rather see bad practical special effects then mediocre CGI. And what’s with the silly cross tats on their foreheads?
To up the appeal, filmmakers decided to convert Priest to 3-D after shooting it, which is one of the reasons the release date has been pushed back again and again. Slated originally to be released last year, then early this year, Priest finally settled on May 13th to take advantage of summer movie audiences. I, for one, am so tired of filmmakers trying the make more money with the 3-D shtick.
What gives me some hope for this movie is the reported participation of the graphic novel’s creator, Min-Woo Hyung. According to an interview Stewart gave to MTV News last year, Hyung’s input helped shape the film. Hyung also visited during the film’s production and consulted with the film’s art department. The vampires in Priest’s mythology aren’t of human origin, and if a human is bitten he/she doesn’t become a vampire, but rather a vampire slave. Staying true to the spirit of the source material may save this film from mediocrity, but we’ll have to wait and see.
What do you think?