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Category:    Home > Reviews > Horror > Thriller > Action > Gothic > Vampire > Religion > Post Apocalypse > Priest: Unrated (2011/Sony Blu-ray 3D Edition)

Priest: Unrated (2011/Sony Blu-ray 3D Edition)

 

3-D Picture: B-     2-D Picture: B-     Sound: B+     Extras: B-     Film: B-

 

 

When 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.

 

A battle 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.

 

However, 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.

 

Of 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.

 

As you 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).

 

It is 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.

 

 

The 1080p 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.

 

For what 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.

 

The 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 good.

 

Extras include 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


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