2011 Movie Priest: Paul Bettany, Vampire Hunter
Although you may think of Paul Bettany primarily as Vision in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (or as J.A.R.V.I.S. in the Marvel Cinematic Universe), he’s obviously had a more varied career than that. For example, he’s appeared in movies like A Beautiful Mind and Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. But that’s not all, of course. He was also in the 2011 movie Priest.
Tell Me More About the 2011 Movie Priest
Priest is based on Hyung Min-Woo’s comic series. Bettany stars as the titular character, who goes simply by “Priest.” That’s handy. But he’s not a regular priest; he belongs to a warrior class. He lives in an alternate universe, where humans and vampires have been at war since time immemorial. At the beginning of the movie, humans have forced vampires into a kind of stand-off. They’ve established a religious government and penned up the surviving vampires, but that doesn’t mean that everything is safe. And that’s what Priest finds out.
Since the human-vampire war is essentially over, Priest is, for all intents and purposes, retired. Until one day, when danger comes a-calling. Augustine town sheriff Hicks (Cam Gigandet) comes to Priest with some terrible news. Vampires have killed Priest’s sister-in-law/his former girlfriend Shannon (Mädchen Amick) and his brother Owen (Stephen Moyer), while also kidnapping Priest’s niece, Lucy (Lily Collins). Priest, of course, wants to spring into action. However, the church won’t help, because that would be admitting defeat. (More specifically, that would be admitting that they didn’t defeat the vampires.) So he’s got to do it himself, while the church tries to get him back.
Once he tries to get to the bottom of things, he finds that volatile relations with the vampires are far from over. He’s got to walk a fine and fraught line to get Lucy back, before she’s turned or becomes one of the subservient Familiars–human slaves to vampires.
Other cast members include Maggie Q, Karl Urban, Brad Dourif, and Christopher Plummer.
Crew Credits for Priest
Priest is director Scott Stewart’s second dark fantasy action movie. His first was Legion, in which Paul Bettany played the fallen archangel Michael. Stewart has gone on since then to make other movies, like the horror-sci fi flick Dark Skies. Stewart is also a prolific visual effects artist and has worked on movies like Mars Attacks!, The Lost World: Jurassic Park, and Sin City.
Cory Goodman wrote the script, adapting the series. Goodman has since written Apollo 18, The Last Witch Hunter, and Underworld: Blood Wars.
Box Office and Critical Response
Although the 2011 movie Priest did well enough at the box office–it wasn’t a bomb–it wasn’t a huge hit with critics. It currently holds a 15% rating at Rotten Tomatoes, whose consensus says, “Sleek and stylish, but those qualities are wasted on a dull, derivative blend of sci-fi, action, and horror.” Professional critics thought the movie borrowed too much from other movies. In doing so, though, it didn’t make something better, but rather, something patchwork and bland.
Audiences, however, were more divided. While some agreed with the critics, other thought that it did everything a vampire action movie should do.
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featured image via Screen Gems/Sony Pictures
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Salomé Gonstad is a freelance writer who grew up in the swampy wilds of south Alabama. When she's not yelling about pop culture on the internet, she's working on a supernatural thriller about her hometown. Also, we're pretty sure she's a werewolf. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.