Feb 162012
 

Director: Scott Charles Stewart

Rating:  PG-13

Running Time: 87 Minutes

Release Date: 5/13/2011

Genre: Horror, Action, Aventure

Cast: Priest (Paul Bettony), Hicks (Cam Gigandet), Priestess (Maggie Q), Black Hat (Karl Urban), Monsignor Orelas (Christopher Plummer),  Salesman(Brad Dourif), Monsignor Chamberlain (Alan Dale), Lucy Pace (Lily Collins) and  Shannon Pace (Madchen Amick)

 

In an alternate far flung future, humanity has defeated the vampire menace and locked the survivors up in underground reservations.  Only with the help of a greatly changed Catholic church and their genetically modified “Priests” was humanity able to accomplish their victory.   It appears that the war nearly destroyed humanity and they exist in heavily fortified cities tightly controlled by the authoritarian Church.  Personal freedom is non-existent and people are forced to go into booths and give video confessions to a computerized version of their leader, Monsignor Orelas (Christopher Plummer).

Not all of the vampires have been locked away and early in the film a outlying settlement is attacked by them  and a young girl, Lucy Page (Lily Collins) is kidnapped and her parents are killed.   Her uncle is one of the few remaining Priests (Paul Bettony)  and escapes a heavily fortified city and breaks his vows to find her with the help of a local lawman, Hicks(Cam Gigandet).  Along the way he also gets help from a warrior Priestess (Maggie Q) and discovers that there is more to the kidnapping of his niece than he first expected.   The vampires are coming back and are being led by a figure from his past.  He must make some tough decisions to save his niece and humanity!

I enjoyed this movie more than I expected to, especially after seeing the less well made Legion also staring Paul Bettany and directed by Scott Charles Stewart.  The movie starts with a brief cartoon explaining the history of the war with the vampires.  The style reminded me of some of the stories in my favorite old comic book, Grendel by Matt Wagner.  Only later did I realize that this film was based on a newer graphic novel by  Hyung Min-woo and  I have promised myself I  will have to check it out at some time  in the future.

The scenery of the war ravaged earth was very well done and show a very different earth from ours.  I would love to ride one on of the Priest’s souped up motorcycles through the desert and see all of the crumbling giant statues and strange mountains.  My favorite weapon in the movie was the Priestess’s meteor hammer.  I know that it is not a very practical weapon in the real world, but it they are really fun to watch.  I really did not care much for the crucifix weapon with the tiny little blade the Priest was using towards the end and did not see any point to it except to say, look I have a cross that is also a weapon!

Priest is one of those movies that relies very heavily on CG.  Some of it works, like with the scenery I mentioned earlier, but at other times it fails miserably.  During one scene, the Priest is fighting a guardian vampire and to help him the Priestess throws a rock at the same time the Priest jumps.  The Priest ends up using the flying rock as a stepping stone and jumps even higher.  I ended up laughing at this scene because it looked very fake.  Also the vampire were not very believable looking because  they were completely made out of CG and moved too fluidly.  I think that sometimes using puppets and CG at the same time provides a physical presence of characters that you just can’t get with CG alone.

One other thing really bugged me was the cross tattoo on the Priest’s forehead.  On at least one occasion it appeared to have faded from the actor sweating!  It seems like they could have spent a few extra dollars to fix that up with a computer!

Priest was not my favorite film of all time, but it was not unbearable.  There were some really great action scenes and some memorable characters.  I would recommend this film if you wanted to watch something that got your adrenaline pumping but did not make you think too much!

 

Frank’s Ratings

(1-5)

Characters 2
Story 3
Special Effects 4
Would Watch Again? 2
Average  2.75

 

 

 

 

 

 

Feb 072012
 

Director: J.J. Abrams

Rating: PG-13

Running Time: 112 minutes

Release Date: 6/10/2011

Genre: Science Fiction, Horror

Cast: Deputy Jack Lamb (Kyle Chandler), Joe Lamb (Joel Courtney), Charles (Riley Griffiths), Alice (Elle Fanning), Preston (Zack Mills), Martin (Gabriel Basso), Cary (Ryan Leo)

In 1979, while making a zombie movie with his friends late at night at a deserted train station, teenager Joe  Lamb (Joel Courtney) and his friends witness a horrible train derailment.  The kids soon discover that the accident was really not an accident at all and that the train was carrying mysterious objects.  The Air Force soon enters the small town of Lillian, Ohio and begins searching for a secret that might be related to the disappearance of electronics and townspeople.

At the same time, Joe must work out some problems with this father Jack Lamb (Kyle Chandler).  Joe’s mother had just died and Jack is having a hard time being both mother and father to Joe.  There is also the issue of  Joe’s girlfriend ,Alice’s  (Elle Fanning), father being involved with Joe’s mother’s death.   Once those issues are cleared up, it is up to Joe and his friends to figure out what is going on with the town and hope that the can eventually finish their movie.

I am a few years younger than the kids in this film and from what I can remember, I think that JJ Abrams did a good job portraying life at the time.  He did great work with picking locations that looked like 1979, especially the houses.  Joe’s kitchen looks just like my parents kitchen still does today!  All of the props were great too, but  I was a bit worried about the mention of a Rubik’s cube.  I looked it up and they had been invented, but I am still not 100% sure that they were readily available in 1979.

The interaction between Joe and his friends is done really well with the swearing, the playful  ribbing that sometimes goes too far the use of the word “Mint”.  I can remember everything cool being called mint in the early 80s.

I only had a few problems with the film.  The worst was the annoying use of the blue lens flare.  Almost all of the night scenes had annoying blue lines emanating from lights, but often the light source was not visible.  I have paid attention to other films and noticed lens flare, but it is never that bad.  My other issue was the secret in the film, but even though it has been out for awhile, I will not spoil it.  I will just say that I was slightly let down by that part of the film.

Even though the mystery wasn’t completely amazing, I enjoyed this film and have seen it twice now.  If you see it, don’t forget to sit though the credits and watch the movie Joe and his friends made during the film, it is really entertaining!

 

Frank’s Ratings

(1-5)

Characters 4
Story 4
Special Effects 5
Would Watch Again? 4
Average  4.25