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Movie review: 'Priest,' 2 stars



2 stars
Directed by Scott Charles Stewart
Starring Paul Bettany, Karl Urban, Cam Gigandet, Maggie Q, Christopher Plummer, Stephen Moyer
Rated PG-13

Hey, guess what? It’s just what you were looking for: more vampires!

In “Priest,” Paul Bettany reunites with his “Legion” director Scott Charles Stewart for the adaptation of Min-Woo Hyung graphic novel series about a post-apocalyptic world where man and vampire have been warring for years.

And these are not your typical Dracula-esque vamps; these are their own species in this world, gooey and slimy with snarly inhuman faces.

As you can likely discern from the film’s title, religion plays a large role in the movie, with monsignors ruling the world and citizens living in huge walled cities, lining up on the streets to give their confessions to a video screen.

The Priests — religious super soldiers with cross tattoos on their faces and an array of cross-related weaponry — were trained to defeat the vampires, which they did. Now they’re decommissioned and treated like pariahs.

When the film opens, a couple and their daughter living in the wasteland outside the walled cities are attacked by hoards of vampires who capture the daughter. (Wait a minute! I thought the vamps were defeated! Shocking!)

A sheriff from the wastelands comes to enlist one of the Priests (Bettany) — who is the abducted girls uncle — and they proceed to travel around the barren world on motorcycles looking for the girl, occasionally stopping to have a boring tense moment or slay some vampires.

“Priest” can, dare I say, get a little preachy at times. The religious aspect is pretty intense in the first half of the film, but once the plot takes them out of the city, it gets toned down.

When the action is barreling along, “Priest” rises slightly above the typical horror action thriller. But when it slows down, it’s painful. Try as they might, the filmmakers failed to make the Priest a compelling lead. He’s so much a blank canvas that even when they begin build his character toward the end of the film, it’s too little, too late. You just don’t care.

The film feels a whole lot like the 1995 Sylvester Stallone film “Judge Dredd,” where an emotionless killing machine sets off in a post-apocalyptic wasteland slaughtering creepy monsters.

Many of the fight scenes in “Priest” are fun to watch, and the dystopian setting itself is well conceived, but on a whole, the film is in need of salvation.

See it in 3-D?
Don’t bother. If you have the option of a regular screening, take it. The 3-D adds nothing to the film.

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