The Good, the Bad and the Ugly meets George Orwell
My Review of Priest, 16 May 2011
Priest is a Dystopic Adrenaline Fueled Thrill-ride... True to it's roots in Road Warrior, Mad Max, the spaghetti western and other post-apocalyptic action movies, Priest is a completely action driven movie. From that perspective, it succeeds very well. Then there are the eyeless, acrobatic "vampires" bringing some crossover into Survival Horror. Fans of that genre should appreciate it as well.
There isn't much of a story however, but there's enough of one to motivate and sustain the flow of movie. The acting is quite good for the most part, Paul Bettany is incredibly intense as the Priest, reflecting faith, without fanaticism, tempered by wisdom. Karl Urban is also great as well the Priest's dark nemesis, with enough depth to avoid becoming a one dimensional villain.
Perhaps the real hero is the art direction, in this dystopic, Orwellian vision of an alternate future. The hive-like confines of "the City" with its colorless paranoia, and obsession with security and safety make the bleak Wastelands outside appear expansive and free. There is not a shred of vegetation in the entire movie, (which made me wonder what people eat). The contrast is stark, the atmosphere grim and purposeful. Personally I ate it up. The whole effect was similar to Riddick, but Riddick was not a Western at heart.
Being a fan of Steven Kings "the Dark Tower", I could see that Priest has drawn from that series consciously, without borrowing any of the plot.
I found Priest quite entertaining and am somewhat dismayed by the negative reviews. Certainly many people will find a lot to like in this movie.