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Scott Charles Stewart
Paul Bettany, Karl Urban, Cam Gigandet, Maggie Q, Lily Collins, Brad Dourif, Stephen Moyer
Writing Credits:
Cory Goodman, Min-Woo Hyung (graphic novel series, "Priest")

The War is Eternal. His Mission is Just the Beginning.

In a world ravaged by wars between humans and vampires, a renegade priest fights to rescue his niece from the legions of bloodsuckers who seek to transform the young girl into one of them. A battle-weary veteran of the last vampire war, warrior Priest (Paul Bettany) now resides in a heavily fortified city where the ruling Church is a greater menace than any creature of the night. When a pack of vampires abduct Priest's niece (Lily Collins), the vengeful holy man breaks his vows and promises to save the young innocent from a fate worse than death. He can't do it alone, but with a powerful warrior Priestess (Maggie Q) and his niece's boyfriend, a sharp-shooting sheriff (Cam Gigandet), on his side, Priest may have a fighting chance. Stephen Moyer, Karl Urban, and Brad Dourif co-star.

Box Office:
$60 million.
Opening Weekend
$14.953 million on 2864 screens.
Domestic Gross
$29.028 million.

Rated NR

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English Descriptive Video Service
French DTS-HD MA 5.1
Spanish DTS-HD MA 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 87 min.
Price: $35.99
Release Date: 8/16/2011

• Audio Commentary with Director Scott Stewart, Writer Cory Goodman and Actors Paul Bettany and Maggie Q
• “Bullets and Crucifixes” Picture-in-Picture Experience
• Deleted and Extended Scenes
• “The Bloody Frontier: Creating the World of Priest” Featurette
• “Tools of the Trade: The Weapons and Vehicles of Priest Featurette
• Previews


Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


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Priest [Blu-Ray] (2011)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 15, 2011)

If you expect a serious religious drama from 2011’s Priest, think again. Instead, the movie offers a mix of sci-fi, action and horror.

Set on an alternate Earth, a prologue tells us that this realm’s humans fought against vampires for centuries. Eventually the church created specially trained priests who could take out the enemies. This leads to a situation where the humans finally “win” and they put the vamps in tightly guarded reservations. As for the priests, the ruling religious order – which controls the entire society in a fascistic manner – shut down their trained assassins.

At the film’s start, we go to a distant, arid outpost and see an apparent vampire attack on a family. This results in the abduction of a teen girl named Lucy (Lily Collins) and the death of her parents. Her boyfriend Hicks (Cam Gigandet) seeks out a priest to help find her – a priest who also happens to be Lucy’s uncle (Paul Bettany). The ruling monsignors won’t support his reinstatement as an actual agent, so the priest breaks his vows to find his missing niece and confront a seemingly unstoppable villain (Karl Urban).

When I listed the film’s genres earlier, I missed one: western. As it happens, that’s probably the most prominent influence here. While Priest may come set in the future and lack the obvious “Old West” ties of something like Cowboys and Aliens, it still hews quite closely to genre conventions. For all intents and purposes, this is a western – albeit a western with other strong influences.

Lots and lots and lots of strong influences, as a matter of fact. Priest often felt like little more than a conglomeration of references to other movies. You’ll see some Blade Runner here, some Alien there, a dab of Matrix on the side – and so on, all packaged with a heaping serving of Clint Eastwood. Amusingly, both hero and villain seem to channel The Man With No Name – shouldn’t the director have told just one of them to go that way?

If the movie even felt like more than a melange of influences, it might’ve gone somewhere. Even though vampires are quickly becoming passé – they’re virtually everywhere these days – that doesn’t mean yet another story based on them couldn’t succeed, and the film’s “warrior priests vs. blood-suckers” boasts potential.

Unfortunately, the end product doesn’t live up to that potential. Oh, it has its moments, most of them in the first act before ennui sets in and story flaws become more evident. At its heart, Priest delivers a pretty basic tale ala The Searchers - whee, another obvious influence! – but it manages to muck up the works along the way. While the plot never becomes terribly confused, it does lack much clarity and doesn’t keep us particularly interested.

The biggest concern is that the movie simply feels pretty dull after a while. The setting and action boast some life during the first act – the assault on Lucy’s family works especially well – but almost everything after that lacks much spark. The film’s brief running time means it doesn’t overstay its welcome, but it threatens to grow tiresome even with less than 90 minutes of footage.

Throw in one of the more “sequel-bait” non-endings I’ve seen in a while and Priest disappoints. What strengths it provides become submerged under a lack of clear plotting and far too many obvious influences.

The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio A-/ Bonus B

Priest appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. Overall, the movie looked strong.

Sharpness was good. Virtually no issues softness emerged, as tthe flick showed fine clarity and accuracy. Jaggies and shimmering failed to distract, and edge haloes remained absent. The movie also lacked any source flaws and was consistently clean.

In terms of colors, Priest went with subdued tones. Parts of the movie featured a yellow tint, but much of it was simply bluish or desaturated. The hues never stood out as memorable, but they weren’t supposed to be impressive, so they were fine for this story’s stripped palette. Blacks were pretty deep, and shadows were generally fine. I thought they could be slightly heavy at times, but not to a problematic degree. The image narrowly missed “A”-level consideration; it offered a solid “B+” presentation.

I felt even more impressed with the killer DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Priest. As one expects from a big action flick, the soundfield opened up in a dynamic manner. The many action sequences used the five channels well, as vehicles, vampires, gunfire and other elements fleshed out the room in a compelling manner. The track used the surrounds in an involving way and made them active partners in the mix.

Audio quality always seemed strong. Speech came across as crisp and concise, without edginess or other concerns. Music sounded lively and full, and effects were well reproduced. Those elements seemed consistently accurate and dynamic; low-end was tight and deep. All in all, this was a more than satisfactory soundtrack.

Despite the movie’s lackluster financial earnings, the Blu-ray delivers a pretty good roster of extras. These launch with an audio commentary from director Scott Stewart, writer Cory Goodman and actors Paul Bettany and Maggie Q. All four sit together for this running, screen-specific look at the film’s animated prologue, story, editing and script development, cast, characters and performances, sets, production design and visuals, cinematography, influences, changes for the unrated version, various effects, music and audio.

In other words, the chat touches on pretty much everything involved in the production, and it does so well. While Stewart offers most of the information, all four throw in their thoughts and help make this a lively chat – but not one that gets chaotic or obnoxious. We learn a lot of good information and have fun along the way.

Bullets and Crucifixes delivers a “picture-in-picture experience”. This gives us photos and art, footage from the set, and interviews. We hear from Stewart, Goodman, Bettany, Maggie Q, executive producers Glenn S. Gainor and Josh Bratman, producers Michael De Luca and Mitchell Peck, visual effects supervisor Jonathan Rothbart, prop master Max E. Brehme, bike builder Cyril O’Neil, and actors Karl Urban, Cam Gigandet, Christopher Plummer, Stephen Moyer, Lily Collins and Madchen Amick. The remarks discuss the animated prologue, influences, script/story/character topics, visual design and effects, cast and performances, props, action and stunts, cinematography, and a couple of other areas.

At their best, picture-in-picture features offer a robust form of commentary. Unfortunately, “Bullets” doesn’t come do much to take advantage of the format’s possibilities. Oh, it delivers the standard array of materials and comments, and many of these are useful. However, the components pop up too infrequently to make this a satisfying program. If “Bullets” came with a good interface that’d allow us to easily skip the dead spots, it’d be more enjoyable, but as created, you must sit through a lot of nothing to access the information.

Seven Deleted and Extended Scenes fill a total of 12 minutes, 31 seconds. These include “Flashback #2 – Extended” (2:54), “Priestess Tells Hicks to Focus” (0:35), “The Whole Town” (0:23), “Black Hat Flashback – Extended” (2:20), “Train Fight – Extended” (1:24), “Priest Returns With Head” (2:08), and “Lucy Asks Priest to Stay” (2:47). Some offer minor tidbits, but a few give us good exposition and help flesh out characters.

Two featurettes ensue. The Bloody Frontier: Creating the World of Priest goes for 12 minutes, 49 seconds and provides material from Stewart, Bettany, Gainor, Maggie Q, Collins, Goodman, De Luca, Gigandet, Rothbart, Plummer, Urban, production designer Richard Bridgland Fitzgerald, and supervising location manager Douglas Dresser. The show examines the movie’s take on vampires; we look at character design as well as sets, inspirations, locations, stunts, and other visual elements. “Frontier” uses a lot of good footage from he production and delivers a tight overview of its subjects.

Finally, we get the 11-minute, 25-second Tools of the Trade: The Weapons and Vehicles of Priest. It includes notes from Stewart, Bettany, Brehme, De Luca, Gigandet, O’Neil and bike builder “Fireball Tim”. As expected, we learn about the design and execution of the film’s weapons and vehicles. The program follows in line with “Frontier”, so it gives us another solid take on the topics.

The disc opens with ads for Insidious, Battle: Los Angeles and Arena. These also show up under Previews along with clips for Bad Teacher, and Just Go With It. In addition, we get a trailer for Twisted Metal Uncut, but no promo for Priest appears here.

With Priest, we get a movie that packs in scores of influences but fails to muster its own identity. The film starts reasonably well but becomes buried underneath its own infatuation with allusions to other – and better – flicks. The Blu-ray comes with good picture and supplements as well as awesome audio. I feel pleased with this release but can’t say the movie impresses me.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2.3571 Stars Number of Votes: 42
12 3:
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