Log in

10 January 2012 @ 07:35 am
Sometimes the best stories come from the simplest of ideas. With a note at the back of The Secret in Their Eyes Eduardo Sacheri states that the genesis of the idea for the plot of his novel came from working a job not unlike his main character Benjamin as a clerk in a law office where He heard a story concerning the release of murderer in the seventies. Upon that He stacked the turbulent history of Argentina and an excellent set of characters with a good amount of personality and character.
I'll admit that I saw the oscar winning film that's touted on the cover of the novel so some of suprises of the novel weren't totally suprising. The film though deviated quiet a bit from the novel and Sacheri who co-wrote the screenplay rightly added a more cinematic flare to his story. Still the story of Benjamin Chapparo re-examining his life involving the investigation of the murder of young woman, and his personal relationship with her husband Ricardo Morales is a great story. Sacheri splits his plot between the present and past switching narration to the first person as Chapparo begins writing a novel after retiring from the court. The novel for the most part is told from the first person switching to the third person as Chapparo examines the novel He's writing or to showing his awkward relationship with unrequieted love of his life Irene.
Like I said the story is rather simpler compared to the film adaptation. Chapparo's antagonist isn't being targeted by the killer Gomez but a bureaucrat He burned in the investigation of the murder. The parallels between Chapparo and Morales in concern with their approach to the loves of their life is interesting especially in the end and the large reveal at the end to me is just an amazing twist to the story. Speaking on the end I do always have an issue of having a reveal lessened by having already seen it. Here despite the film the story does maintain a power that is still realized a year after I've seen the film.
Sacheri is a good writer who to me has crafted one of the better novels I've read in while, definitely recommended by me. If you've seen the movie read the book. If you want an excellent mystery thriller to read read the book. Its worth your time.
07 December 2011 @ 09:01 am
Way back when I wrote my first little review of Jack Ketchum's Off Season I happily called it entertaining trash because that's kind of what it is when you look at it. Its disgusting to its core, vividly describes the murders of several characters with the intense fascination of pathologist describing the methodology of a kill, and is one of those tales with a mean streak a mile wide killing its characters off with reckless abandon. Its also kind of brave in a horror novel to find a writer who takes that kind of risk in alienating his audience which Ketchum does so well while providing one of those thrillers you can't put down even when you really want to. In short Off Season is a take no prisoner assault that entertains because it sets out to thrill and does so.
Ketchum followed Off Season with Off Spring, a follow-up that unfortunately didn't work as well as the initial story diluting the horror with a child out to rescue a baby, the killing of an ex-husband that plays like its feeding the audience a nicer hard core horror experience. In short compared to Off Season, Off Spring was a terrible letdown of a continuation. Which makes The Woman which plays like a continuation of Ketchum's series so good. It abandons the formula that Ketchum used too much in redoing the story twice and with the use of Lucky Mckee to balance the story out makes something that is entertaining and truly eye opening with some subtleties.
I don't know how much Mckee influenced the story of The Woman over the film version that He directed. The idea of questioning which so called person is a monster isn't a new being the point of the classic film Cannibal Holocaust. But there's more to the book building up to its grand guignol finish that makes it an entertaining read.
The idea is an interesting way to continue the story Off Season cannibals. The last surviving member of the clan, a woman is recuperating in the woods bordering a small Maine town when she's captured by a hunter who spies her catching fish. The hunter, a local lawyer named Chris Cleek captures her and chains her in his basement hoping to as He says several times civilize her from her baser instincts.
What follows is basically a portrait of this family and their problems caused by Chris who unlike his captive is a sociopath in disguise, a monster who quietly torments his family ruling them while controlling his sick fantasies with his daughter. Its an interesting parallel with the woman who is slowly beaten and set upon, degraded and devalued. You shouldn't care for the torture of this woman with her baby speak especially if you've read the other books in Ketchum's series but The Woman does come away in a general sympathetic light compared the violence that Chris enacts on his family.
That's a major plot point that did in a way suprise me, the fact that Chris has been raping his teenage daughter something thats witnessed by his four year old who's enacting a strong kissing issue with other children. Thats a subtlety compared to some of the final moments brought forth which play with Ketchum's ability to go over the top and truly gross in a way that a talented writer can. I won't spoil it here but when the Woman is set forth to wreak her vengeance amongst the Cleek household theres more revealed than the fact that Chris has impregnated his daughter.
Like I said its a tightly controlled bit of build up to the over the top finale. Ketchum and Mckee do a good bit of humanizing these disgusting and disturbing characters with their realism in a way and simplicity. Its the perfect way I think to truly continue a series that iin its opening novel had a woman split in half and roasted over a spit, a vicious and entertaining horror novel definitely recommended reading for fans of Ketchum.
22 November 2011 @ 10:23 pm
Tarsem Singh showing the mark of great filmmaker has turned a mediocre script into what I find to at least be a visually interesting movie. I'll admit I'm a whore for visionary filmmakers and unlike a lot of directors Tarsem Singh directs movies that are singularly his own vision. You can tell them apart from other films and if you're like me you can enjoy just the bravado thats involved in their creation. Singh's last film was The Fall, a remake that took four years for the director to create travelling to a variety of continents to create what for me was a simply stunningly beautiful film. Now He's vying for more mainstream attention, hopefully to garner financing for more interesting films in the future but at least before Mirror, Mirror we have Immortals.
Immortals has been compared to 300 which to me isn't a real fair comparison outside of style of film making. Zack Snyder's adaptation of Frank Miller's re-telling of the Battle of Thermopalye was a stylistic retelling of historical events. There were grotesque fantastical creations to be sure but at least there was some use of reality for the plot. Immortals on the other hand is a film that's rooted in the idea of mythology and the somewhat surrealistic quality that brings to storytelling. There's violence aplenty, far out tortures and killings and for the minotaur you have a giant in a barbwire bull mask, all of this watched under the attentive view of the gods who wish to rebel against Zeus's decree that no one shall interfere in the tribulations of humans. In short when people are entombed in a metal bull and slowly roasted alive, its weird phantasmagorical shit.
All made better by the hand of Tarsem who while He leaves realism behind creates a beautiful vision that elevates the plot. City's perch on the edge of cliffs cut in stone. Titans lay captured in the middle of mountain in a stone prison biting what looks to be rebar all flanked by humongous statues. Poseidon dives off of Olympus into the sea creating a huge tsunami. As a film Immortals a visionary triumph, though I do admit that this being the first Tarsem film I've seen in a theater with digital projection I admit I was a bit awestruck by the visuals.
Afterwards thinking over the details of the movie theres a lot to desired from the story bits of the movie. The characters of the movie are underdeveloped. Details don't make sense and parts of the movie just feel inconsequential to the general nature of the film. Even considering the idea of myth makes one scratch their head as Olympus is populated by four gods apparently.
I say Tarsem's vision saved the movie for me, though it might not be as beneficial for some. The action is well done, the film populated with actors who give decent performances but really if I could be honest the movie would have benefited if Singh had thrown caution to the wind and made a film comparable to Jodorowky's El Topo. I mean The Cell had Vincent Donofrio disembowel Vince Vaughn with a device onscreen. There's more surrealism to be had in greek mythology right?
Still the film to me was enjoyable for Tarsem's flair as a director. Its not a great film but the visuals mixed with the mythological aspect and the over the top violence was something I enjoyed on a base level. A guilty pleasure I guess.
22 November 2011 @ 09:06 pm
How Marcus Nispel continues to be able to work in the world of film is a mystery that stymies me greatly. I've seen all four of his films and all four fell flat for me for the simple reason that the man seems less interested in the films He makes outside of what He's assembling. They're terrible, boring drivel made as if for fans of the original materials but without any input of the director himself to make them entertaining. Nispel in the end badly assembles his movies instead of directing and more often than not does that badly as well.
To the list of his movies comes Conan the Barbarian. I've not read the original Robert E. Howard stories though I do have them downloaded to my Kindle. I have however seen the original Schwarzenegger film quiet a few times, can note its impact in various ways. Whatever faults you might find with John Milius's Conan the Barbarian even then it can be defended in the fact that at least Milius respected films of old with a action finale clearly mimicking Kurosawa's Seven Samurai in a way.
Here the best aspect of the film is the casting of Morgan Freeman to narrate the film. I will admit there are some positives I suppose when comparing Nispel's previous films. He's made a brighter film than the dark and dreary movies He'd previously made but the cinematography still feels rather dim. The action is decently shot but mostly underwhelming especially considering the finale which should be thunderous. They have a finale that opens the film clocking in at thirty minutes which is way too long and drawn out. Even the gratuitous nudity you'd expect from the series feels tacked on and used as a stupid joke. The movie doesn't resemble Conan the Barbarian more than one of the pale imitators it inspired.
I guess there are some pluses. The biggest one may be Jason Momoa. He's not a great actor but He has that magnetism that works for actors like Jason Statham and Dwayne Johnson and injects a sense of humor into the movie. Nispel thankfully kept the movie somewhat violent which works well during some parts of the movie as when Conan launches a villain at an enemy army on a trebuchet or a fight with Bob Sapp that could have been longer for my taste. But the film lacks any real personality almost coming close to a Dungeons and Dragons level of bad fantasy film.
Yeah its not a good film. The only way this movie would have overcome the screenplay is if a Peter Jackson pre-Lord of the Rings had made it, throwing in tons of blood and directoral talent without the epic feel of Tolkien. Instead you have Marcus Nispel, the puppy dog of directors. I keep giving him my time, scratching his ears. And the little shit just poops on the floor every time.
20 October 2011 @ 12:28 am
My parents in their great little history of my life like to put my love of movies into three distinct stories. In one they mistakenly took me to The Road Warrior and learned the reason you don't take a child to a movie like that during the rape scene when I started crying loudly that we should go. Add to that the hardening of my reserve for Platoon where at seven in a theater full of horrified adults cringing at Kevin Dillon beating a disabled mans brains out I was laughing like a maniac. To end though between these two extremes my young hatred of John Carpenters The Thing which came down to hating it for the simple fact that all the dogs were killed. Now thirty years later dogs or no dogs I admit that The Thing is Carpenters best films. Its one of the scariest films of all time, with shock value, humor and terrific sense of atmosphere. Its one of the best remakes of ever and a good adaptation of John W. Campbell's Who Goes There which is a terrific sci-fi parable akin to Invasion of the Body Snatchers and Robert Heinlein's The Puppet Masters.
Cut to thirty years later and an idea hungry Hollywood making a prequel to The Thing. Unlike the bevy of bad Platinum Dunes films the film isn't terrible but like Marco Beltrami's overly optimistic B-Movie score that echoes some of Ennio Morricone's original score its the product of good filmmakers making bad choices and good choices that combine for a totally mediocre experience.
First I guess I'll go with what the movie does good which is using the opening of Campbell's story for the opening of the film which is a good way to begin. Three scientists looking for a mysterious radio signal stumble into a an underground cavern where a ship has been buried for thousands of years with a survivor encased in ice outside of the ship. Due to scientific inquisitiveness the creature is thawed out and escapes attacking people while the scientists discover its absorbing men at the base and replicating them.
The prequel uses this for a good start and trumps the original in one aspect in my opinion. As good as Rob Bottin's effects were they never really gave shape or character to the thing. Sure they have shock value and nothing in this film has the effect of Norris's death or the spider head sequence that followed. Here though mostly using computer effects they do give a personality to the creatures in making them seem like some personal army of The Thing like Campbell's story. They don't have the shock like I said which takes away some of the horror, but they generally work and with the sound design does create a generous amount of suspense.
That said the movie just doesn't do much else well. The lack of humor that Carpenters film had doesn't make the characters interesting in the least. The director while generating a fare amount of suspense doesn't generate the atmosphere that Carpenter did with the right type of lighting. While the effects work is good at creating a monster the creature does look like something out of Silent Hill at times while my personal harangue is that one woman absorbed and the filmmakers don't really do anything truthfully grotesque with how wrong this situation could be.
The filmmakers do have a good cast which could bring forth some conflict using the cliche of alpha male doctors for a point that doesn't really go anywhere. The story itself is too much of a repeat of Carpenters film in too many parts. Characters show up who are suspected of being a creature. Theres a test developed to look for who might not be human. And then a character shows up as the main alien who has the recognizable face of the human with the horrible body of the creature. And in one scene trigger happy humans resort to shooting each other. Theres more to copy but really for me the film came down to waiting for the prequel to tie in with the two swedes and the suicide left back the base. Truthfully there were so many moments of characters dying horribly that I was wondering if the filmmakers were gonna pull a Lucas and avoid any history original film set forth in certain aspects.
Most of the actors are good actors. Mary Elizabeth Winstead is an attractive girl who can act given the right part but there isn't much of a character to work with. Joel Edgerton has a bit at the opening where He might compare to Russel in the original but all of this is really abandoned for the middle half where characters hunker down to find out who's a creature and who's not. In a way its all like Campbell's story which is a good idea but mostly again a repeat of the original film. In a way with the film being marketed as being from the filmmakers of Dawn of the Dead the film hits that same idea of being about action over horror. In some aspects it works but We've seen this before.
Finally my final complaint against the film concerns the ending. Not the part where the two survivor characters are chased around the derelict space ship but a tiny twist at the end. Carpenter had one of the absolute best, bleakest and smartest endings for a film. Here they try to go bleak I suppose but the twist is just plain stupid and like most of the rest of the film lacks any imagination or need. I hated this twist and I loathed this ending.
In the end the movie isn't Platinum Dunes bad but its not a classic. I take that back The Thing is a total Meh of a picture. Worth seeing if you happen to be a fan of the original but mostly as an oddity and something that doesn't have the value of the original film.
05 October 2011 @ 08:15 am
For me as a viewer Contagion isn't the scariest film of the year because of what is happening on the screen at the moment but the question the film raises of just how safe we are from a modern virological epidemic killing billions in a modern era. Sure we see signs of disease outbreaks all the time from sars to avian influenza but those are thankfully contained against the epic virus Steven Soderbergh and Scott Burns have dreamed up. And perhaps as the ending of the film tells us it will take only a few scant happenings to unleash a new plague that could kill millions world wide.
I say the film isn't really scary but it does at times contain a great ammount of suspense especially a scene with a dying man set upon a bus. The movie I think doesn't want to play to those alarmist fears of a film like The Crazies or Outbreak but be more of a moderate sci fiction parable showing the effect of the disease not so much through fear but what that fear does to peoples minds and psyches. If theres one real failing of the movie its perhaps that theres really too many characters to get an emotional attachement to one. I'll admit when Kate Winslet finds herself showing symptoms of the disease, or Matt Damon tries to protect his surviving daughter from the outbreak there is an emotional pull thats immediately offset in a way. As I said Soderbergh isn't so much interested in the people dealing with day to day issues as he is characters dealing with consequences of there being a disease in the first place. Marion Cottilard plays a doctor kidnapped in China by a village too poor to recieve vaccines for remaining villagers. Laurence Fishburne is the head of the CDC who has to deal with Home Land Security investigating a terrorist tie to the outbreak while also coming under investigation for alerting his fiancee that a city will soon come under quarantine. Kate Winslet is sent out into the field but hampered by regional officials too money hungry to deal with the issues the virus demands. And Jude Law is the online blogger offering his own crackpot theories and cure which may or may not be helpful at a cost beneficial to him.
The whole movie has a straightforward narrative that after a summer filled with explosions is admirable playing off ideas that could effect real life in some ways as Matt Damon watches anarchy breaking down in the suburbs of Ohio or lack of a cure causes rioting at a San Francisco pharmacy. The most effective idea though for me are the competing governmental agencies. In this time of layers of government arguing over money issues the CDC might seem like an agency to cut spending on as much as Nasa. That coupled with the scenes where Homeland Security agents demand that study of the disease be kept to one place hampering the doctors seeking a cure play to a more realistic effect than scenes involving people dying and are easily for me the part of the movie that stayed with me.
All in all I do have to admit that this was a well executed thriller from Soderberghs direction and the writing but there are suprisingly a lot of good performances from the actors involved many with miniscule parts (Paltrow is relegated to few small scenes in the film). Unsuprisingly the most effective performance in the film comes from Matt Damon who's easily transitioned from his Will Hunting and Bourne days playing the everyman father well supported by Anna Jacoby Heron playing his scared, love struck daughter. His scenes are quiet effective portraying the view the simple man who wants to save the only family He has left which is a good counterbalance to the chaos of the rest of the film.
This film for me might not have been the scariest thing of all time but it was effective on multiple levels of portraying how we as a people could be caught unaware from a modern day plague.
04 October 2011 @ 02:18 pm
You know I could understand why a movie like The American was underappreciated by the audiences, not being the slam bang action thriller most people expect from genre fair but I've kind of been baffled by the lack of respect Drive has been getting as it seems to be easily compared to the previous film. Maybe I'm a bit biased on the subject. I heard about the film some time ago before it was shot, was interested due to the films of Nicholas Windig Refn I had seen before and unlike The American actually enjoyed the former novella the movie was based upon. To me Drive is a victim of its own marketting, pitched as an action thriller by commercials the film is more in the vein of slow burn crime noir its patterned after like Thief or The Driver (itself an imitation of the spare Le Samourai)
All of the films issues in its appeal might also be summed up by the fact that for a movie called Drive, with a character called The Driver theres not much driving to be done, especially after the braveau sequence that opens the movie a chase scene built upon the idea of avoiding attention to get to a predetermined destination then speeding through the streets. Then again there wasn't much driving in James Sallis novel. The book itself was a stripped down short affair, as slick as the main character that inhabited it. The brilliance in what Refn the director has done I think is in a way retaining that feel of Sallis prose which drove the story to a logical confrontation between hero and villain. In all honesty as an adaptation of the novel its loose at best. The screenplay takes ideas, and events but compacts everything down to the slick essentials of character and plot showing more what happens as an effect rather than just setting up action sequences. If you want chase scenes you'd probably be more happy with Walter Hill's The Driver.
Not to let that be a hit against the film as since I said Refn's direction is slick and existing in a world that is a bit tweaked from reality but its not overexhuberant the way it was in his first film I had seen Bronson which was wild to the point of some kind of controlled chaos. In fact the movie does compare more away from the films of Mann or Hill and more with Refn's own Pusher trilogy which examined in three films desperate characters locked in losing situations. From the second film you have the unnering tragedy that seems to exist in these characters lives. Sure We can understand that they're getting the fate they themselves set up through their actions but strangely a scene where Albert Brooks states how He wished He had been able to see his name on a stock car has as much weight as the fate of Bryan Cranston's Shannon, a character that seems modelled more after Elisha Cook's character on The Killing then the books suave veteran stuntman. Refn's cast the film phenomenally well from a good turn from Carey Mulligan to a rightfully clownish Ron Perlman. Even Oscar Issac whos acting has been mostly grating to me does give a sympathetic turn in the role of Mulligan's husband thats a million miles removed from the performance He gave in Sucker Punch.
The man who owns the movie rightly though is Albert Brooks. Sure Gosling is probably the top draw for some but Brooks is rightly getting the credit for the performance which might seem a little strange in a way. I saw both Broadcast News and The Muse the other day on t.v. and truthfully his Bernie Rose hits that same kind of note as a sad sack character (truthfully I joked with a friend comparing his part in this to his character Hank Scorpio from an episode of the Simpsons) but He swings easily into the violence of certain scenes. Comparing his part in this would be like learning Takeshi Kitano was a standup comedian after seeing Hana-Bi but Brooks does bring an intensity to the character who is quiet ruthless when He needs to be.
So Drive wasn't the big action spectacle of the summer. So its violence was contained to small portion of the film. To me its the type of film that like The American is sadly lacking in big theatrical releases, a smart quiet film that demands more than to simply be seen.
08 September 2011 @ 01:11 am
This summer I read James L. Swanson's excellent books concerning the assassination of Abraham Lincoln Bloody Crimes, and Manhunt two excellent non-fiction novels, well worth reading for history buffs. Swanson like great history writers gave a detailed, and amazing account of the assassination which sometimes became suspensful at times despite having a foregone conclusion to the procedings. I was excited to see Robert Redfords The Conspirator concerning the military trial against the conspirators of the Lincoln assassination but the film despite an interesting subject didn't really do the history justice.
The biggest issue is that Redford wants to focus on one little aspect of the historical story. Redford wanting to focus on modern political issues wants to draw comparisons to the modern day trials of enemy combatants and Mary Surrat who if you were to judge by the movie was railroaded with a suspension of habeus corpus which lead to her hanging from people more interested in revenge over justice. But my problem with this concept as concerns the movie as the assassination of Lincoln was a monumental part of history, the first assassination of an American president. Sure injustices in the name of good are bad but most americans were recovering from the end of the civil war and the assassination of the president was earth shattering. You can understand Edwin Stanton's need for quick justice concerning the conspirators and everyone who was found guilty of providing aid to John Wilkes Booth. Until his death most of the rulings Stanton had executed were upheld: people left in prison to rot for a lifetime, homes taken by the government things that were totally over the top in some aspects.
The assassination and the way it changed history is amazing needing a much longer film that could cover the multiple aspects of the story. The Conspirator however is limited in its aspects which is a bit sad. Its rushes through the assination and capture of conspirators, barely involves Booth and doesn't do much with the feelings of the north and the south which took time to heal.
James Mcavoy's Fredrick Aiken does start off as wounded hero who doesn't want to provide support for Surrat due to his feelings concerning the south and their betrayl towards the union. But for the most part this part of the story comes off as feeling a bit cliche in some aspects. Mcavoy's fiancee calls off their engagement and two friends from the union army show up to ask how can He defend this woman. The aspect of the trail isn't that interesting especially when it involves a twist that again like the actual assassination of Lincoln isn't too hard to discern when its part of history.
By limiting his story to one aspect a movie that could be interesting feels slight in a way which is a shame because the actors do alright with what they're given- except for Justin Long as one of Mcavoy's chums from the army days, if you've hated Long in his genre work you'll probably loathe him in this movie. The production for an independent film is well produced on a small budget with a great cast. The only real probelm I had with the filmmaking itself was the digital photography aspect. I know that the use of digital cameras does alleviate issues of cost for cheaply produced independent productions like this but the film comes off not like the work of a major filmmaker but a well produced reenactment for the history channel.
In the end the movie with its story should be better. Redford is a filmmaker who at least has the integrity to produce something for the multiplex that is better than most of what ends up in theatres but its too limited in its scope to be worthy of recommendation however earnest the filmmaking is.
08 September 2011 @ 12:30 am
Since seeing that the remake of Straw Dogs would be including a republishing of the original novel that formed its basis I've been wanting to read Gordon Williams The Siege of Trenchers Farm. As a book it exists like John Godey's great The Taking of Pelham 1,2,3 in that its a markedly different experience compared to the film adaptation. Sam Peckingpah is a definite master fillmaker who took Williams book and created an intense film experience changing pretty much a great ammount of the plot and setting to create his own macho film experience about the inner id of men and women; men and their inner need to be cowboys and women with their need to be dominated. Okay a bit infuriating in modern times but its Peckingpah.
Williams it should be said does feature more of the kind of dated ideas about human beings especially with concerns about Louise, the wife of George who complains and yells until George slaps her around a bit. The story though is interesting compared to Straw Dogs and the multitude of changes especially concerning the fate of Jannice Hedden and Henry Niles. Niles an idiot who acidentally kills Janice ends up in the besieged home driving the violence at the end. Here there is no real crime to say of. Disturbed Janice runs into the middle of a snow storm on the same day Niles escapes from a van ferrying him to his mental institution. The villagers hearing that He's been hit by a car and is held by the Magruder family seeks to get him mostly due to circumstantial reasons easilly dismissed by George who has more reason to defend this killer from the villagers who are seeking a reason to resort to violence.
Thats an interesting setup for looking at the male psyche right there in my opinion especially how it can be used with unfortunate recent events. None of the villagers really comes off as the pschyo's from the movie. Most are just egging each others egos on made more vicious by the father of the missing girl who brings a gun to the lynching eager to use it on Niles because of course the harebrained simpelton must have done something to his little girl who the father really never took an interest in until she disappeared. Each man is carrying some slight from life that needs to be redressed by the killing complicated by an accidental murder during the siege.
George is carrying some interesting baggage on his side of the plot. In the movie He's a bit confounding just a man seeking to defend his hearth from illegal invasion. But Niles is an evil person in the movie who did indeed kill young Janice hours before. Here though George does indeed have a good reason to protect Niles from the gang outside but things are complicated by having a daughter who could be harmed on either side of the siege but it does provide more reason for George to fight against the lynch mob outside driving his cowboy attitude, another view of the male need to create violence which is interesting.
The book is pretty much a realtime event starting on Christmas eve and following with the siege and the events transpiring therein. Its an interesting plot a good idea, and an interesting take on a culture clash with Georges views versus his English wife. The book like all great adaptations is a great companion piece to the film but stands on its own as work of fiction. Definitely worth checking out in my opinion.
17 August 2011 @ 10:21 am
Yeah Priest is a bad movie, a mish mash of ideas that isn't truly terrible like Skyline where you can take pleasure in its ineptitude but more of a pastiche meant for a certain group of people who even then might not really care for the movie. It takes the beatiful Maggie Q and makes her plain. It has Stephen Moyer stuck in his Vampire Bill mode from True Blood and has annoying revelations that give rise to no real interest in the plot. Hey at least theres a climatic battle on a train, the director doesn't over edit his fight scenes (instead eschewing to shoot everything in slow motion) and Brad Douriff shows up for a quick paycheck. Even the animated intro promises somthing cool which never happens.
The whole thing is based upon a Korean comic book giving way to how much feels borrowed. Theres a bit of Vampire Hunter D running into a Blade Runner motif all surrounded by the odd trappings of a western. Why I don't really know. The whole thing seems to take place in one of those alternate realities that work better when being told by the asians who created them and truthfully the story might work better on the printed page where things like characterization and depth are given room to actually happen.
As it is we have a bastardization of The Searchers with Paul Bettany's renegade Priest teaming up with a small town sheriff to hunt for his kidnapped niece who's taken after a vampire attack. To show how little the story actually wants to be interesting theres a bit of Searchers in Bettany stating that if the girl is infected from the vampires He'll kill her, something thats never truly given any weight. Truthfully a lot of the characters only exist as tentpoles for the action to spring forth. The religious angle could turn Bettany into sociopathic killer like John Waynes Ethan Edwards but the filmmakers don't want to risk making their hero a meany. Cam Gigandet doesn't really seem to do much as the man searching for the love of his life who could be turned into an evil creature of darkness at any moment. Maggie Q is okay but the love story aspect seems tacked on for a finale that doesn't want to make anybody sad if she sacrifices herself for everyone else. And Karl Urban shows up to brood at everyone not really seeking the revenge his character should for his imagined slight and simply being rather boring. To make matters worse is the inclusion of Christopher Plummer as the monsignor of a city built on religious despotysm. Okay you wanna poke the christians with a stick. But even his character or the whole idea of a church out to discredit the priests assertions that vampires are massing for an attack on the city is half-assed at best. I can understand its pushing for some kind of conflict with authority like the sheriff vs. the chamber of congress in Jaws, buts its never fully divulged why the priest fighting vampires against orders needs to happen at all.
So the writing is bad, the acting banal. Is there anything to recommend the movie for? Well before I hit my tenth bottle of cider (as this movie should not be watched sober if it isn't going to provide anything to really make fun of) I'll admit the production design is pretty. The idea the world paints is non-sensical with clashing styles but on Blu-Ray you can see some vision in the landscapes and what not. The climatic finale on the train though being totally unsuspensful still made me watch, mostly because I like trains even futuristic sci-fi creations. And the action is shot without all the hyper edits and camera moves that people loved so much in the Bourne movies.
Still Priest is a dumb, boring movie thats not worth the money to see. I rented it at least so unlike some of my past transgressions of taste this one wasn't as upsetting as some.