We all remember the utterly horrific and unbearable angels-with-guns flick Legion. So naturally we were skeptical about another supernatural thriller starring Paul Bettany. But thank goodness, the footage we watched last night from Priest was surprisingly fun.
Bettany, director Scott Charles Stewart, Cam Gigandet, Lily Collins and original graphic novel author and Priest creator Min-Woo Hyung were all in attendance for the first ever 3D footage screening at WonderCon tonight. Is the movie anything like Min-Woo Hyung's graphic novel? No. Not even a little bit. And when the creator was asked what he thought about the footage, he responded that he didn't want to criticize his own work but admitted the film looked awesome. We suspect he did indeed think the footage was awesome, but the two things are exceptionally different. But let's get to the footage.
We were shown one clip and a fairly long sizzle reel. Before the clip the director set up the shot explaining that Priest takes place in the future, after a very long world war with vampires. Now vampires live separately from humans on their own reservations. But it's an uneasy truce. Somewhere in a border town lives Bettany's brother (played by True Blood's Stephen Moyer), and Bettany's niece is kidnapped by vampires. Sheriff Cam Gigandet and Bettany then have to go after her. The clip shows Bettany — who is just called Priest — and the sheriff stopping over at a reservation to pump the vampire servants for information.
The vampire reservation looks like a run-down power plant. Lots of metal and rust. No plants, no shade. In fact the whole planet is just desert. The two men wedge open the hatch to the metal building and climb in. The Sheriff plops his hand down in some sticky vampire spit, which Priest reveals is what these new vampires excrete to build their hives.
After a little vampire man-slave shakedown, the two men are suddenly surrounded by vampires. Thankfully the vampire monsters in this movie aren't sparkly teens, they're large no-eyed beings that hop about on all fours (scaling from building to building) with a double set of giant incisors. They don't speak, they just growl and hiss.
The action utilizes the 3D effects wonderfully. Priest flings a handful of cross blades into the air and they dart out at the vamps, slicing off their limbs. It's quality action 3D, and could very well be worth the extra couple bucks.
Unfortunately, the dialogue in this scenes we saw is severely lacking. Bettany talks in a low growl (no accent) and says horribly cliched things like, "Do you want to do this the easy way, or the hard way?" and "Save your bullets." He sounds like Paul W.S. Anderson's version of Dirty Harry.
So on one hand you have excellent action, scary beasts, and fun 3D. But on the other hand, the dialogue is crap. Thankfully the sizzle reel which was just action clip after awesome action clip including a motorcycle-riding Maggie Q who makes easy work of an attacker by slicing them into bits with a wire lasso. It was highly entertaining. So as long as Priest continues to focus on the action, we'll continue to be cautiously optimistic about this post-apocalyptic vampire smackdown.