By MARK TURNER
It seems only natural that Hollywood has sought out new sources of inspiration for movies. They’ve sequelized and remade just about everything under the sun. So when word got out that they were taking a manga (Japanese comic) story and turning it into film, fans were both glad to hear it and concerned if they were dedicated to the original source. For those of us unaccustomed to it, the film is pure entertainment.
The future is a bleak one. The battle between humans and vampires escalated to the point where the world was nearly destroyed in the aftermath. These vampires are unlike those seen in most stories, less suave and sophisticated and more along the lines of faceless monsters with gaping jaws.
To win the war the clergy created a new force to be reckoned with, the Priests. Raised to battle these demons and with abilities greater than most men, the Priests set out to destroy the vampires and nearly did so, trapping any that remained in sealed areas of the world. But the world that was left was just as decimated, comprised of cities surrounded by walks and ruled by the Church. The Priests were disbanded with their being no need for them any longer. Until now.
In one of the settlements outside the city, a lone cabin stands and the inhabitants are set upon by a rampaging army of vampires. There are two survivors. One is a young woman who was captured by the vampires. The other her father, the brother of the Priest who stood out above the rest (Paul Bettany). With revenge in mind and warning the Church of this mounting army he asks to be reinstated. But the leaders refuse to believe there is any danger and not only deny him reinstatement but tell him to stand down or be hunted.
Priest (as he is called) ignores their threats and heads out to find the vampires and rescue his niece. In turn the Church reinstates several members of the Priests and sends them out to capture him, dead or alive.
Accompanied by his niece’ boyfriend and Sheriff Hicks (Cam Gigandet), Priests tracks the vampires to their lair. What he discovers is far more dangerous than he imagined. There is not just a small group of vampires comprising an army but thousands. And they are led by Black Hat (Karl Urban), a former Priest turned vampire and friend to Priest, lost during one of their battles against the scourge.
Black Hat has taken over a train and filled it with the vampires as well as his captive. With only the help of a fellow Priest and Hicks, Priest sets out to end this once and for all. And no one, including the Church, will stop him.
If the story sounds familiar, yes it does seem like a retelling of the movie THE SEARCHERS. So I guess it isn’t as original as we can hope for. But the film does put a nice twist on both the heroes and villains seen in movies of this sort. The vampires are monstrous creatures while the Priests are ninja like warriors having more in common with Crusaders than with current members of the clergy.
The movie looks spectacular, mostly taking place at night and yet shot in such a way that everything is visible. Too many movies like this choose total blackness but this movie gives us a good view of the action and the characters. The special effects are top notch as well both physically and animated. The creatures seem real and the explosions, etc. are well done.
Bettany has changed since we first saw him years ago. Where he once played various geek type roles he’s taken on the mantle of action star and it suits him well. Gigandet seems to be everywhere since his big role in TWILIGHT. This movie can only be another notch on his belt.
The movie may not be for everyone but for action and sci-fi/fantasy fans it will offer them everything they could hope for. This isn’t a spoiler but the end of the film does leave an opening for another and one can only hope that it does well enough on DVD that the studio follows through. This was a good solid action piece that would make a worthwhile series.
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