Priest: Unrated (2011/Sony Blu-ray 3D Edition)
Picture: B- 2-D Picture: B- Sound: B+ Extras: B- Film: B-
Scott Charles Stewart’s Priest
(2011) opened up in theaters, it got a mixed reaction when it had a reaction at
all, then disappeared, but it turns out the film is better than expected thanks
to a smart first half that offsets its (inevitable?) slippage into some
clichés. It is not only a good action
and post-apocalyptic film, but does a better job dealing with the subject of vampirism
than most outright films on the subject of late.
between priest and vampires led to the priests “winning” but the establishment
of monsignors (lead by the enduring Christopher Plummer) has set up a
semi-corporate Christo-Fascist police state in the place of a healthy city to
keep control and keep everyone in dull mode to make them manageable. They also equate themselves with God.
all is not well. A young lady has been
kidnapped and our title character (Paul Bettany) strongly believes that
vampires have returned, but the Monsignors disagree and really don’t want to
hear it; hear the truth, so Priest breaks his code of conformity and leaves the
city to hun them and save the girl.
Along the way, he meets a sheriff type (Cam Gigandet, helping fill out
the Spaghetti Western section of the film, very good here) and the monsignors
send four others from the priest block (who they had taken the powers and
authority from when the police state was set up) to bring back the main Priest.
course, the vampires are alive and well, posing a threat to the human race and
now we have a villainous one who is part human with a “black hat” on (Karl
Urban in one of his first actually good acting performances!) who is leading
the charge for the vampire takeover.
can see from the description, though somewhat benign, this was possibly too hot
to handle for some political interests, so the film did not get the chance it
deserved, though the more people who see it will see how good it really is. Though it givers way to some clichés in the
latter half of the film, the first half of the film along with its cast,
energy, ambition and consistency make this more successful than Stewart’s
previous genre film with Bettany, Legion
(reviewed elsewhere on this site).
just that so much does work and more than expected, leaving way for a sequel
that makes sense for once and sets up Stewart as potentially the next Paul W.S.
Anderson, though I hope I do not speak too soon. It may be to much like the overrated Matrix films (which owe more than
something to the Blade films, which
this film more or less acknowledges), but there is enough of a different niche
that fans of this kind of filmmaking in particular will be satisfied and should
see it. I know some though the title
silly and some of them may have assumed it was some kind of corny religious
action film, but it is not so. This is
A-grade professional action filmmaking like we used to see more often and can
go a few rounds with anything that arrived in the Summer of 2011 in
theaters. Maggie Q (always welcome and
underrated) and Brad Dourif are among the supporting cast.
2.35 X 1 MVC-encoded 3-D – Full Resolution digital High Definition image
represents a last minute conversion and as a result, is it not really any
better (and oddly different) than the 2D 1080p HD image also included on this
Blu-ray, which is stylized down more than it needed to be, but that is the look
of the picture. In the case of the 3D,
it rarely offers anything different and was a ploy to make the film sell
better. This reminds me of the time Sony
used three-strip, dye-transfer Technicolor (known for everything from MGM
Musicals, to Disney animation to Apocalypse
Now) on their awful 1998 Godzilla
fiasco, which was dark, digital and had little in the way of color to show off. In both cases, the idea was to add to the box
office and in both cases it backfired.
is the look of the film, it works for the story, though some detail and depth
suffer beyond what I would have liked to see.
This was shot in real 35mm anamorphic Panavision by Director of
Photography Don Burgess, A.S.C., who is on a role following Source Code and Book Of Eli. In this case 2D
is just fine.
DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 mix on the other hand is one of the best of 2011
with a good score by Christopher Young and one of the too few films this year
to really take advantage of the sonic soundscape that lossless multi-channel
audio can deliver for a feature film.
This even includes a few demo moments that are on the state-of-the-art
side. I wish more new films sounded this
BD Live interactive functions, movieIQ + sync interactive functions, Deleted
& Extended Scenes, Uncharted 3 HD game trailer, two making of featurettes (The Bloody Frontier: Creating The World Of
Priest, Tools Of The Trade: The
Weapons & Vehicles) and previews for other Sony releases.
- Nicholas Sheffo