God, Deliver Us From This Disappointing Shit.

PRIEST (2011)
Priest Does Ikea: Slot A, meet Slot fucking B.

Just once this year, I want to walk out of a movie theater and not feel like I paid $13 to get sodomized by a chainsaw. I thought Priest would be the movie to bring an end to this disappointing string of bullshit that the movie industry has been peddling like rainbow unicorn flavored acid. The trailer was promising, the concept was epic, the actors were all names I know and love. So what went wrong? I showed up in time. I paid for my ticket. I stubbornly opted for the 2D version of the film rather than the arm-and-a-leg priced 3D version, firstly because I'm a cheap bastard, and secondly because I'm sick and tired of movies that think they can replace any sort of logical plot with a waste basket of special effects. I'm not asking for a lot here. I named my blog "The Smoking Pen", I call my movies "badass", I eat poorly crafted action movies for breakfast and thoroughly enjoy them. I'm really, really not asking for a lot. Give me a couple good explosions, a couple well choreographed fights, a pair of tits and a band of morally ambiguous character I can care about and I'm good to go. I'm not asking for an epic Lord Of The Rings style plot. I'm not asking for characters with back stories that stretch all the way to their slippery push into this world. I'm not even asking for solid, airtight logic. I'm the kind of person that looks forward to the cheap crap summer movies churn out. I'm just asking for a good fucking movie. That's it. That's all I want. Something I can walk away from with a satisfied feeling in my uterus. Is that so much to ask for?

Yes. Apparently it really, really is. And, funny enough, it's a movie called Priest that made me lose all faith in 2011 cinema. Priest isn't simply a bad movie. A bad movie I could live with. Priest was a dick slap in the face. It promised so much--the premise, the action scenes, the way the trailers pushed this as the epic movie of the year. The concept is good: John Wayne meets vampires. Despite the fact that the Church, the Big Brother of this world, has claimed vampires no longer exist, there's a vampire kidnapping in which a little Lucy is whisked away. A little Lucy who happens to be the daughter of a wayward warrior Priest (Paul Bettany), the man who has to now go against the heavy hand of the Church to recover the lost girl. He's joined on his quest by Lucy's lover Hick (Cam Gigandet) and his Priestess companion (Maggie Q). Together, they set out to recover the lost Lucy before it's too late and vanquish the evil ex-Priest now-vampire (Karl Urban). Sounds cool, right? Right. And then this happens:

I. Do Not Explaineth Thine Universe.

Just because the most compelling part of your movie is the fact that it takes place in a dystopian hyper-religious world under threat of vampires, doesn't mean you actually have to expand on that dystopian hyper-religious world under threat of vampires. At all. Apparently, it's okay to throw a bunch of words around like familiars and hope the audience figure it out from context. And it's okay to say that vampires can't go out in the sunlight, and then have these half-human half-vampire things roaming around in the day time. And it's okay to have this vast, sprawling landscape of various settlements that don't quite make sense, but you included a five minute cartoon of vague exposition in the beginning, so you know what? Audiences can suck it. Literally.

In truthfulness, I blame the laziness of this movie on the myth of the ADD Generation. The fact that kids can't sit still long enough for a movie to start. It's said that in the first 15-20 minutes of your movie, the introductions should be over and the movie should really take off. Anything longer than that, more often than not, drags. However, filmmakers these days seem to have ditched those introductory 15-20 minutes all together. Instead of taking their time to flesh out a world, give our characters a little history, breath some life into that dull script, the movie give us a quick expositional cartoon blip and cuts straight into the action. Anything that might slow the movie down--flashbacks about the order of the Priests, a deeper relationship between Hicks and Lucy, a little internal battle of faith for the Priest--has to go. All of that shit that might, god forbid, make the audience care. Nah. Stuff a couple gooey vampires in their face and they'll be happy. Honestly? We will wait for a good movie to develop. I have a lot more patience for a drawn out beginning and a good couple hours than 90 minutes of eye vomit.  

II. Ditch Actors, Go With Cardboard.
"I watch sand...it hurts my eyes."
Cam Gigandet plays the Sheriff Hicks, who comes from the middle of buttfuck nowhere in this uninspiring landscape. Hicks spends his time chasing off lowlives and looking at the white sand "and stuff" (literal quote from movie). He complains that it hurts his eyes. Gee, dipshit, I wonder what happens when you stare at white desert sand for hours on end? Who wrote this, Prequel George Lucas My love is softer than sand which is rough and I don't like sand but I like you? The most depressing part? Hicks is the most compelling character of the entire movie. And he's a fucking Twilight actor, so he will forever have to try harder to impress me than most actors.

The acting gets worse, the script writing gets worse, and the names vanish. Our main character is simply "Priest". His chick friend is Priestess. The villain is Black Hat, clearly named by the writer's one year old son who's eager to show off the few words of vocabulary he knows. And how could anyone forget Brave Priest, Strong Priest, Bold Priest, and my favorite, Flashback Priest. They weren't even trying to get us to relate to these characters.

And there's the Priest himself. Didn't he just pop nicely out of that microwavable character container? He's already lost his faith in the Church, so we don't have to deal with anything messy like a character conflict. Instead, he seems to have been suspended in time, glaring at everyone in the city, waiting for some random kid to come around and tell him his daughter's been stolen. Because, you know. It's not like he can actually take the time to go out and visit her, what with his busy glaring schedule. What do we know about Priest? He's lost his faith in the Church, he seems a little shaky on the whole God thing too, in fact, he doesn't have much of a reason at all to be a Priest except that he's really fucking good at killing things. And he does it all instinctually, so he has no qualms with the fact that he's a lean, mean, killing machine. He feels bad for letting go of his friend's hand when he should've held on, but that's really the only thing that plagues him. We have no idea why he feels so bad about it anyway, it's not like we have any reason to believe they were particularly friendly with one another. All we really know is that he adheres to some abstract samurai code, but doesn't really care about anything except killing vampires, and Lucy is just a convenient way to kill some more. Note to self: you can pay tribute to The Searchers all you want, but only John Wayne can get away with that shit. 

III. Put Thine Bitches In Their Place.

Let's face it. The trailers made the chick look badass. But empowering women is really, really boring. So here's what we're going to do instead. We're going to take the Priestess, who, by the way, has willingly submitted herself to be a Priestess and fully accepted the fact that she's taken a vow of chastity. Great. So this woman with full command over her sexuality has decided that God is overrated, and what she really wants out of this life is to fuck our protagonist, hard. Paul Bettany is not a bad looking dude, and neither is a cardboard cutout of Kate Moennig, yet still I am somehow not inspired to make passionate love with hard papery material. Fine. You know what. We're an action movie, we need someone to moon over our hero, I get it. I'm on board with you. I'll even give you the benefit of the doubt for your lame ass courting scenes, which go something like this...

Sometimes, I have bad dreams....
But sometimes, I have GOOD DREAMS. WINK.
But then it goes a step further. This movie wants her to be the sex pot AND the badass woman hero. Which is fine, except for the fact that they refuse to let her be badass. Oh, she's got the moves. She's got the gadgets. She's a warrior woman dance of death. So let's throw the Special Education School Of Vampires at her. While the hero is busy dealing death to millions of deadly vampires, she's watching the car and pushing away the retard half-vampire things (can someone please explain what the fuck a familiar is anyway?). Why do I feel like I'm repeating myself...?

IV. There Is Fast....And Then There Is NITRO.

So you think your horsepower is impressive? You think that you're a badass because you went a couple miles over the speed limit in Italy? Well. You clearly haven't ridden a battery powered motorcycle...thing. It does speed. Climbs up the MPH meter like a beast. But when you're trying to outrun a speeding train filled with blind vampires, you need more than 200 MPH. You need NITRO. Nitro does not have a miles per hour because nitro IS it's own unit of measure. Nitro is tearing up the road, bitches fast. Nitro is your motorcycle on powerthirst. It's like the speed of lightspeed, but like...it bends light...and...um...it's like...BETTER. Than you. And your mom. 

V. Foreshadowing Is For Thou Pussies.

Remember when Indiana Jones told everyone his one greatest weakness was snakes, and then ended up forced in a small room covered in them? Remember when the Narrator from Fight Club went to a doctor for his insomnia, and then his lack of sleep ended up being one of the main origins of his issues? Remember every single time Q told James Bond "whatever you do, don't push the red button"?

Well. Priest has decided that it's completely okay with having the gun on the mantle the first act, and leaving it untouched for the rest of the movie. Literally half the film is spent on this single dilemma: what are they going to do if they find Lucy has already become infected? The Priest vows he'll kill her, yet Hicks in turn vows he'll kill the Priest before he has the chance. Good, healthy character tension, right? So we've established their relationship, we've established the tension, we've built it up to it's final climax, and...absolutely nothing happened. Lucy never got bitten. Which means all those arguments and all the effort they put into the conflict was purely hypothetical and ultimately meaningless. 

Verdict? There's campy, and then there's we just couldn't give a crap. I left the movie theatre and on my way out, I ran down the up escalator. Those 30 seconds were more thrilling and entertaining than the last 90 minutes I spent feeling my brain drip out of my ears. So save yourself the money and run down the up escalator for a couple hours instead. 


  1. LMAO!!! Your descriptions are total badass and very inspiring. I am so glad I avoided this and went to see Insidious instead. Priest sounds like a thriller written by gang of soccer moms who have no concept of horror,suspense, monsters or even how to tell a story.

    I mention Insidious because that was a movie in which I thought I was going to want to stab my eyes out with tweezers. The crew of lame car watchers who helmed Paranormal Activity made Insidious, so it looked like the obvious bullet train to Mediocrity. I was choked on my popcorn shocked at how entertaining it was. Sounds like Priest was the real train wreck. It needs warning cones and police tape.

  2. Bravo! Bravo! Laugh my ass off review, mate. I'm delighted that PRIEST sucks, and quite happy I read the review before taking the plunge. My hatred for LEGION is indescribable, yet PRIEST somehow looked like they learned their lesson. Apparently not. Excellent, brilliantly written review!

  3. Great review. Hot Damn you can be sarcastic when you want to be! I really knew nothing about Priest beyond the irritating whole screen adverts that now make IMDB take longer to load. I don't think I'll be hurrying to watch it either!

  4. Fantastic Review! Just watched Priest the other day: you are absolutely right. What a disappointment!

  5. @ Melissa--Thanks! I agree--I think you dodged a bit of a bullet here, Insidious was definitely the better choice. Soccer moms is the ONLY was to describe the writers of this atrocity of biblical proportions.

    And I know! I actually found myself having lots of fun with Insidious. Granted, I was stoned, so that might've made it better. However, either way it was quite an experience. It was a bit of a mind-ninja of a movie--not so scary while you were watching it, and often bordering on ridiculous. But then when you went home, you made sure to turn on all the lights.

  6. @ Time Lord--*Bows* Thanks, homie! It's always good to know people share my strange sense of humor. I actually haven't seen Legion yet, though I plan to at some point just with a group of friends in the wee hours of the morning when we need mindless entertainment to rip to shreds.

    @ Russ--HA! I did go a little overboard with the sarcasm, didn't I? The thing was, it wouldn't have gotten under my skin so bad if I hadn't been SO looking forward to this movie. I feel like they used my film fetishes against me in the trailers just to shove a steaming pile of crap in my lap, and so for that, they must be mocked mercilessly.

    @ Ty--Thanks! Glad you enjoyed it. I'm just sorry you had to pay money to suffer the same misfortune I did!

  7. Man, just another case of a well-cut trailer for a complete shit movie. Love reading your reviews, always amusing!

  8. Exactly. Damn you, misleading trailers, damn you! But thanks for the compliment! Glad I can keep you entertained.

  9. God damn this is totally the kind of movie that had me excited from the previews, for all the reasons you mentioned, but I hadn't gotten around to seeing it yet. While it sounds oddly hilarious from your review, I will assume it actually isn't worth it, which is too bad.

    Like you I look forward to all the ridiculous summer action movies but lately I'm disappointed 90% of the time. I think last year RED was the only action movie I really dug. Unless SCOTT PILGRIM counts.

  10. awesome review!

    I actually hated the trailer, so it seems I shouldn't go anywhere near this film!

    Such a shame Paul Bettany doesn't choose better roles, I thought he was great in Master and Commander.

  11. @ Alex--Exactly! It really throws together all the pieces that'll get nerds and action lovers (of which I am both) excited as hell. Just enough to herd us all into the theaters, lock us in, and destroy our souls. Shossana couldn't have done a better job.

    I KNOW. I'm really getting legitimately irritated with the amount of piss poor films that've been coming out of Hollywood lately. If Cowboys and Aliens turns out to be shit, I may just hang myself in the theater.

    @ Jack L--Thanks! If you hated the trailer, you should really avoid this movie at all costs. Even if someone has a bullet to your head. Take the bullet, not the ticket.

    I agree! I remember him from A Beautiful Mind, and I thought he was killer in that. What is it with him and shit roles these days?

  12. Man, I expected bad but that sounds worse. Sounds like your typical Hollywood over-the-top horror CGI fest that totally misses the point of the genre.

  13. Basically. Too many nerds on deck with their photoshop and whateverthefuck and not a single writer in the bunch.

  14. Awesome review!

    I'm glad I took the time to read your thoughts on the movie rather than waste over $10 on a ticket.

  15. Thanks, homie! Glad I could save one soul from this unfortunate movie.

  16. But Cowboys & Aliens has to be good, right? I mean... it's got Harrison Ford. And Daniel Craig (and Paul Dano, Sam Rockwell, and Walton Goggins). And it's a western plus sci-fi.


    God I'm going to be disappointed, I can tell.

  17. LMAO!! That was the saddest comment EVER! Worse is that I feel every single sentiment you just expressed.


  18. Your Welcome. Priest could have been great, they screwed it up immensely. If i saw that in post-converted 3-D, my eyes would be bleeding!

  19. Oho, I think my eyes were bleeding already. And I agree completely! Definitely the disappointment of the year so far.

  20. I almost want to see this just so this makes more sense. Awesome post title, btw.

    Also btw, and apropos of nothing - I mentioned you in the latest LAMBcast! Go listen now! :D

  21. HAHA! I wouldn't recommend it. At least, nothing that contributes money to this film. Maybe when it comes on netflix so you can rent it or something.

    And thanks!!! I definitely ran straight to the LAMBcast--that's so badass! You're the shit. End of story.

  22. Saw the trailer for this at a screening of "Drive Angry". Both me and my friend went "Whoa! This we WILL be seeing!"

    But your first paragraph actually describes my mindset (to stunning accuracy), and reading the review until the end made me happy and sad at the same time. Happy because I won't be wasting money on a bunch of crap, and sad because this was one of the films I was most looking forward to this year.


  23. Gah, I know! WTF, Hollywood. WTF.

    I was SO looking forward to this one. The trailer got me so psyched. It appealed to the nerd in me who loves alternate universes. It appealed to the feminist in me with a badass chick. It appealed to the action movie buff in me with insane action scenes. It even appealed to the closet old-school vampire lover in me.

    And then I saw it. Worst decision ever.

  24. I think it all depends on your mindset going into it. You had a good year to sit on it and let it lose its hype. If you go in expecting nothing, I'm sure it delivers. It has aspects of it that aren't...complete crap.

    However. My hopes were way too high when going to see this, so when I found out that it all boiled down to retarded nothingness...it was bad. Bad movies I can handle. Disappointing movies, nah.


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