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Adapted from a graphic novel and overlaid with video game styled action sequences, PRIEST ($36) is a particular type of popcorn movie, designed for a particular type of popcorn movie audience. Thin on plot and characterization, PRIEST is not a movie made to impress critics or the motion picture academy, and I am sure the bulk of the film’s profits will come from home video and cable television sales. Personally, I liked PRIEST because it met my expectations for a film designed for a particular type of popcorn movie audience, and thusly, kept me mindlessly entertained during its brief eighty-seven minute running time.

The premise of PRIEST is set in the distant future, in an alternate reality, where a war between humans and vampires has devastated the world. In this alternate reality, vampires are not undead humans existing off the blood of the living, but instead, an eyeless, insect-like species of predators that live in hives and prey on humans. This species of vampire also occasionally keep humans as "familiars" to watch over them during the daylight hours, when they are the most vulnerable. As expected, The Church remains the protector of mankind, having created powerful warrior priests to battle the vampire threat. Having contained the few remaining vampires to reservations, The Church protects the rest of mankind inside nearly impenetrable cities, where their totalitarian control of the populace is absolute. No longer requiring the services of their warrior priests, The Church tries to assimilate them back into society, where they hope to keep them under their control.

Paul Bettany stars in PRIEST as the title character, who learns that his brother and his family, who live outside the city and control of The Church, have been attacked by vampires… indicating a new vampire menace may be developing. The Church denies the possibility of any new vampire menace, and refuses to allow a Priest to investigate, which might give credence to the rumor and usurp their absolute authority and wisdom. Because his missing niece may still be alive, our all too human Priest defies The Church and sets of to the wastelands outside the city to locate his missing niece. Unwilling to have a rogue Priest outside their control, The Church sends out a number of said Priest’s brethren to hunt him down and return to the city… alive or dead. The cast of PRIEST also features Karl Urban, Cam Gigandet, Maggie Q, Lily Collins, Brad Dourif, Stephen Moyer, Christopher Plummer, Alan Dale and Mädchen Amick.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has made PRIEST available on Blu-ray Disc in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. PRIEST features a high quality 1080p presentation that delivers impressive visuals throughout. Other than a few mildly off shots, PRIEST delivers an image that appears wonderfully crisp, highly defined and impressively dimensional. Fine detail and texturing are also excellent, whether they are on display during the brightly lit sequences occurring in the wastelands, inside the oppressively bleak and darkened city. Colors are fully saturated, yet are usually bleached away by excessive sunlight, or are obscured by the darkness. Additionally, flesh tones come across in an attractive manner. Blacks are pure, as are the whites. Contrast has been given a mild, but effective push. Shadow detail is terrific during the numerous darker sequences. The elements from which PRIEST has been mastered demonstrate virtually no imperfections. A very fine sheen of grain/noise is noticeable at times during the presentation.

PRIEST is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. This is another track that should be anointed and placed on the demo pile. PRIEST boasts plenty of action sequences with wonderfully over-the-top sonic characteristics- exactly what one should expect from a movie of this ilk. The sound design is highly aggressive, whenever it need to be, and maximizes use of all the outlying channels to immerse the viewer in the action. Sound effects placement is spot on, and effortlessly sweeps between channels. Even the quieter moments are exceedingly well devised, continuing to make excellent use of the entire soundstage to immerse the viewer. Thanks to the lossless encode, fidelity is excellent for both the musical component and sound effects. The bass channel is deep, percussive and shakes the ground when required. Dialogue is cleanly reproduced and is always easy to understand. French and Spanish 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack are also encoded onto the disc, as are English, French and Spanish subtitles.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the disc's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the supplements. Starting things off is a is a running Audio Commentary with director Scott Stewart, writer Cory Goodman, plus actors Paul Bettany and Maggie Q. Next up is a Bonus View picture-in-picture Video Experience entitled Bullets And Crucifixes, which features interviews, original artwork and behind-the-scenes clips (requires a Profile 1.1 player). Featurettes and other programs include: The Bloody Frontier: Creating The World Of Priest (thirteen minutes) and Tools Of The Trade: The Weapons And Vehicles Of Priest (eleven minutes). Deleted & Extended Scenes, plus Bonus Trailer close the standard supplements. PRIEST is also BD-Live enabled (requires a Profile 2.0 player). Sony’s MovieIQ feature is available through BD-Live, which provides the viewer access to a continuously updated database of additional information about the film, its cast, crew and soundtrack, as well as other trivia.

PRIEST is mindless popcorn entertainment made for a particular audience and not a movie made to impress critics or the motion picture academy. The Blu-ray looks and sounds pretty terrific. If you are a fan, Blu-ray is the way to go.


Priest (Unrated Version) [Blu-ray] (2010)


DVD & Blu-ray Disc reviews are Copyright © 2011 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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