Lengthy earlier than Paul Bettany was Imaginative and prescient, the English actor wore the cloak of a distinct comedian e-book superhero. Whereas this forgotten film does not appear to take full benefit of its $60 million price range, it is a stunning gem with a fairly enviable forged.
Priest, a darkish sci-fi motion film from director Scott Stewart and based mostly on a well-liked Korean comedian e-book (manwha) from Hyung Min-woo, is the film you could stream on Netflix earlier than it leaves on November 30 within the U.S.
Loosely based mostly on Hyung’s comedian a few gunslinger of the fabric, the film Priest takes place within the distant way forward for a universe the place humanity went to battle with beastly vampires. To fight the bloodsuckers, the Church weaponized an order of warriors known as Clergymen, who specialised in looking vampires.
However with the battle over and vampires banished exterior human cities, Clergymen had been discharged and left to fend for themselves. One unnamed Priest (Paul Bettany) rebels in opposition to the Church to take up arms as soon as once more when his niece, Lucy (a pre-fame Lily Collins) is kidnapped into vampire territory by one other former Priest, often known as Black Hat (Karl goddamn City). Additionally starring within the film are Christopher Plummer and Maggie Q, as a Priestess who aids the Priest in his mission. (These Clergymen, uh, actually need names.)
Heavy on motion however mild on plot and characters, Priest squanders its $60 million price range. Its chief design and black and metal blue colour palettes mimic the darkish style movies of the 2000s, like Blade, Equilibirum, and the Underworld sequence.
Launched through the first wave of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Priest feels just like the final breath of a dying period. It additionally hit through the launch of Twilight, which might be why nobody remembers this uncommon tackle vampires. In Priest, they’re primal beasts fairly in contrast to Dracula, Edward, and different aristocratic undead.
What Priest has as a substitute is fashion. There are crucifix shurikens, easy-to-DIY cosplay, and a complete lot of wire work. Whereas not strictly a martial arts film, it shoots and choreographs motion higher than dearer Hollywood movies. It isn’t distinctive, however it’s stable, and it is a genuinely enjoyable shock to find its competence.
After which there’s Bettany, the film’s skeleton key and an unlikely selection to guide an motion film. Pale and lanky in comparison with Dwayne Johnson and never conventionally charismatic like Robert Downey Jr., Bettany brings gravity to a featherweight script. The WandaVision star matches the fabric like a glove given the diminished social standing for Clergymen within the film’s mythology. You imagine he is an exiled exterminator as a result of he simply seems like a weirdo creep with a face tattoo. You immediately get why mothers don’t desire youngsters speaking to him in an elevator.
What you have received in Priest is a deceptively pro-Christian masquerade (and a broad parable in regards to the U.S. authorities’s abandonment of navy veterans) the place Bettany is aware of the best way to get you on board with him and never his religion. It helps that the film ends with Bettany actually strolling away from the Church. (The film, for higher or worse, does not wink at any of the opposite million issues that plague Catholicism. If it weren’t for the film’s ample crosses, apocalyptic theocracy, and a handful of Bible quotes, Priest can be fairly agnostic.)
Priest can also be doing the Lord’s work using Karl City, a style favourite whose face has been all over the place, from Center-earth to the united statesEnterprise. I am within the midst of catching up with the remainder of the world in relation to The Boys, and it is novel to see Priest make City an precise dangerous man, versus a roughneck anti-hero. In one other universe, perhaps City ought to have been the Priest and Bettany the Black Hat, however this timeline ain’t so dangerous both.
If Priest feels spinoff, properly, it is by design. In interviews, Hyung expressed admiration for darkish fantasy and western horror — genres acquainted to the west (comparable to in Stephen King’s The Darkish Tower) however not so to mainstream Korea.
“It’s a sort of homage to my favourite underground tradition,” he instructed Korea Joong Ang Daily in 2011. “There are various movies [in Korea] with zombies and devils as protagonists today however it was exhausting to seek out films like that again within the 80s and 90s.”
Hyung’s love for westerns and horror allowed his Priest to face out as a comic book, however as a Hollywood film, its touchstones cut back Hyung’s work into one thing acquainted and unimaginative. One wonders what Priest would have been like if it carefully caught to Hyung’s Outdated West setting (it was the filmmakers who set the film in a far-flung future, claiming it to be a “sequel” to Hyung’s story). However that simply made Priest look so many different dystopian sci-fi films of the earlier decade. In the meantime, westerns made a compelling comeback in works like No Nation for Outdated Males. What if Priest stayed true to its roots (and its unique story about evil angels) as a substitute of chasing traits?
It is a disgrace we’ll by no means discover out, as Priest made simply barely sufficient within the international field workplace ($78.3 million) to scare away a franchise. However Priest stands by itself deserves regardless of its flaws. As a one-off distraction, it is hardly a sin.
Priest is streaming now on Netflix till November 30 within the U.S.