A Failed Journalist’s Review of Priest. (Or As I Like To Call it: The Tale of a Ninja Vampire Slayer And The Case Of The Frightfully Similar Scenes)

Before I really start, I’d just like to say that I’m not the best reviewer out there. On this here blog, I quite happily reviewed Jon Richardson’s Book: It’s Not Me, It’s You, and shared it with the world. On a previous blog I used to have, I wrote really higgledy piggledy reviews about DVDs that I’d watched, through recommendation and courtesy of LoveFilm, and after only a few entries, I fell into a formulaic pit and struggled to get out of it.

So, don’t think of this is as a review. Think of it as an article filled with observations, delivered with a hint of sardonic opinions, all laced with a hint of fangirling.
So, I watched Priest the other day. I’ve mentioned before that I am a fan of Paul Bettany, and the shenanigans involving his name. I’ve also mentioned in the LoveFilm entries that I keep my lists floating in titles by Cataloguing certain actor’s works, and that’s how I ended up watching Priest.
The premise is this: Paul Bettany plays a Priest in a dystopian world run by The Church. He fought vampires and lost, and lived in wait to avenge his friend. He gets word of stray vampires and vicious attacks outside of The City and turns his back on to the The Church when his plea of help fall on deaf ears. The attack happened on either his brother’s or his sister’s farm, didn’t quite catch which one, and his niece was taken hostage.
He figures he can kill two undead birds with one steak-shaped stone by getting his niece, Lucy, back and killing the creatures that killed his friend.
BUT! It’s not that simple. And if you think the Characters are bound to have a hard job going all Buffy The Vampire Slayer on everyone’s arses, think again! It’s me, your average viewer, who has the most work to do.
First of all, Paul Bettany’s American Accent is flawless. It’s not the first time I’ve heard him pull it off. He plays a very scary creepy fellow in a film called Firewall, starring Harrison Ford. He hold’s Harrison Ford’s Character and the Character’s family hostage, for reasons I can’t quite remember but an educated guess based on the title of the film would be that it’s for some sort of code, Sneakers Style. When the Character is being himself, the scary creepy fellow, he’s in Paul Bettany’s English Accent. And when the Character is being his Alias, he has a smooth American Accent that helps him blend in and even manages to sound extra friendly.
I spent a good half an hour thinking him to be the good sort of Hostage taker, but then he gave the son food knowing full well the kid would go into anaphylactic shock and I realised I had to re-evaluate my character reading skills. But that’s derailing.
My point is, is that I’ve heard Paul Bettany’s American Accent before, and yet this time it was different. It was quiet and on the raspier side of things. There were a few times I had to pause, rewind and turn the subtitles on to catch what was being said.
Then, my brain kept going into Intertextuality Overdrive as I saw many references to and scenes that looked worryingly similar to scenes in other films. For example, The Priest has a motorbike. What other Vampire Slayer do we know that rides a super-speed Motorbike in the dark?
Blade.
And on that point, the Vampires that The Priest and everybody else has come to know are nothing compared to the Super Vampire that’s now in charge. And worse, the average Vampires have bred to such degrees that they aren’t just straggled groups to be dismissed. They become an army, headed straight for The City.
There’s a scene where Lucy is sitting at a table, in her Church Clothes, that she didn’t really wear to Church, wink wink, talking to the Super Vampire. He’s giving her all of this delicious food to eat whilst telling her how Sinning Makes The World Go Around.
Not exactly the same Conversation Topic, but almost exactly the same as the scene in Pirates of the Carribbean where Barbossa has all sorts of food laid out before Elizabeth for her to eat, so that Barbossa can enjoy eating by proxy.
There’s also The Church, which if you change to The Government and throw in Stephen Fry and Natalie Portman, you’d have V for Vendetta.
And Saving the best for last! What comes to mind when I say that a Damsel in Distress In A Victorian-Styled Dress is clinging on to the edge of a steam-train that is going to explode/crash, is being held on to by One Of The Heroes so that she doesn’t fall off and get mangled under the wheels, meanwhile The Other Hero is using their mode of transportation like a Surf Board and Orchestrating The Rescue Attempt with Very Good Timing Abilities?
If You said Back to the Future 3, You’d be wrong. It’s the ending of Priest! But glad to see we agree, there.
I’ll give the film points for a very good cast, and I didn’t actually figure out the bigger twist until a split second before it was revealed. I would watch it again, and I’d buy it on DVD if it was in the bargain bin…
But overall, it’s lame! It is So, So, So, So Lame! I mean, have you seen Slither? I love Slither, but it’s a lame excuse for a horror film that’s made largely viewable by the humour, cast and script. Priest has Super Ninja Priests that can jump up to and land down safely from great heights. At some points, it seems as if it’s a film made from collage of scenes taken from other films, a half decent cast and one good line. Which I’m sure was the token line they’d have used in the trailor.
 
The scene is this: The Priest has returned to The Catacombs that we saw him in at the beginning of the film, where the war between people and vampires had taken place, where his friend had been taken by the Vampires. He is with a Gunslinger, who went to The Priest for help because he’s in love with Lucy, despite Lucy possbly being only 17 and the Gunslinger guy looking 27…
The Priest throws his flare down the vertical tunnel so that he can see the bottom, only it’s so far down that you can’t really see the flare anymore. He turns to the Gunslinger guy and says “If anything comes up the steps that isn’t me, shoot it.”

It’s such a slick line! It is like no other line in the film, it’s said clearly, and it’s not the kind of line I’d associate with Paul Bettany. Paul Bettany, who made up football chants and immitates boxing announcers in A Knight’s Tale. Paul Bettany, the smug-faced explosive fast talker of a Gangster in Gangster No1. Paul Bettany, the quiet-voiced seemingly gentle man of a doctor, particular friend to Jack Aubrey, in Master and Commander.

My Mind Does Not Compute.

If anything, it shows just how versatile an actor Paul Bettany is. Does nothing whatsoever for the film, though. Except guarantee’s a decent amount of footage to turn into an advert. It is a line that provokes Meta.

It might sound as if I was disappointed with this film. I wasn’t. I did genuinely like it. Paul Bettany plays a Ninja Priest, and there’s a super army of Vampires heading towards a big Dystopian City run by The New Church to get revenge. What’s not to like?!

It’s just not something that I’d associate with Paul Bettany if Paul Bettany hadn’t have starred in it. But that’s the kind of thing you find out when you watch an actor’s back catalogue. You find films you wouldn’t normally like, you find actor’s in films not like any other thing they’ve ever been in, and you find other actors playing a role you wouldn’t normally associate them with.

Final conclusion of Priest:
8/10

My next Paul Bettany film, for the record, will be Creation. ~Ooh~

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