Apocalypse

Priest (2011)

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Whilst this is my second vampire film in a row it is as different from Queen of the Damned as Stilton and Feta cheese (I’m not quite sure which is which in this analogy). Priest is loosely based on a Korean comic, Manhwa (Korean for Priest) by Hyung Min-woo, it is set in a dystopic future where humans have finally defeated vampires, a war that has been going on for centuries. Following the victory over vampires, human civilisation is ruled by The Church a twisted take on today’s Catholic church complete with confession booths, which were very reminiscent of the dodgy portaloos you find at music festivals. The film follows Priest, played by Paul Bettany (A Beautiful Mind), one of the warrior priests that were instrumental in defeating the vampires. However, Priest along with the rest of his warrior companions was cast aside after the war back into the general population.

The plot is a simple one, Priest’s brother and his family are violently attacked by a group of vampires who kidnap his niece, Lucy played by Lily Colins (The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones and coincidently Phil Colin’s daughter). On hearing this news, Priest seeks permission from The Church to go and hunt for Lucy but is refused. Priest sets out anyway and in doing so becomes a fugitive who is pursued by fellow warrior priests. Upon arriving at his brother’s home, Priest is joined by the local law enforcer (and Lucy’s paramour), Hicks, played by Cam Gigandet (Pandorum), complete with “witty” one-liners.

I would be hesitant to call the vampires in Priest vampires, they are not like your “usual” vampire (e.g Interview with the Vampire, Vampyr and Captain Kronos) rather they are more akin to Alien, lacking all facial features except a very large mouth. These vampires are a completely separate race (as opposed to humans turned into vampires) and whilst humanoid lack all human characteristics making it very hard to relate to them. Indeed their very society is more similar to that of ants than humans, living in a hive each with its own queen.

More alien than vampire?

More alien than vampire?

In director Scott Stewart’s (Sin City, Dark Skies) vision is clear to see the inspiration from a graphic novel, indeed the opening of the film is an animated history of the vampire war. There was the sense of some greater depth to the film bubbling under the surface which was unfortunately left untapped and I was left feeling the plot was very light and an excuse for some set action pieces. Perhaps if I was more familiar with the original manga I would have been aware of some more subtly but to me Priest felt very one dimensional.

I would recommend Priest only if you are a fan of action films and don’t want to think too much about a plot.

Rating: 2/5

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Has anyone read the manga? Does it give more insight into the film or are they completely different?

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World War Z (2013)

World War Z

World War Z is a big budget, big action film featuring Brad Pitt (who I’m sure you all know, but has also starred in Interview with a Vampire, Fight Club and numerous other films) as Gerry Lane. The film starts with a huge set piece with zombies attacking people in the middle of New York in which we witness both how people become infected (the traditional through a bite), how quickly it takes effect and how inexplicably capable Gerry is to deal with the zombie attack. Indeed, if he was not so capable, this film would be a lot shorter, say 15 minutes instead of 116 minutes. Through the film we learn why Gerry is so well equipped to handle this unfortunate turn of events, he is an ex- UN Inspector.

Fighting to survive the zombie apocalypse alongside Pitt are Mireille Enos (The Killing) as his wife, the slightly less capable Karin Lane and his two daughters, Constance and Rachel played by Sterling Jerins (The Conjuring) and Abigail Hargrove (The Butterfly Circus), who are frankly useless, which I guess is how children would react in that situation. Due to Gerry’s unique background, it earns him and his family a helicopter from his old boss Thierry Umutoni (Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom) out of the fallen Big Apple onto a Naval vessel 200 miles from New York. It soon becomes clear that this is not the blessing he thought it was and in order for his family to remain on the ship he goes to the origin of the outbreak with Dr Fassbach (Elyes Gabel), a young brilliant doctor to try and develop a vaccine to the (suspected) zombifying virus.

After a quick sojurn in South Korea, Lane ends up in Israel where he spots an old man and an emaciated teen are ignored by the zombies, giving him the vital clue on how to stop the spread and save the world. One of the best things about this film is how it moves around the world, indicating that it’s a World war and not just America or the UK. The quest for a cure takes Lane from New York, to Cardiff via South Korea and Israel.

The zombies in World War Z are fast zombies and the infection spreads quickly, in some cases as fast as twelve seconds. They are characterised by much gnashing of teeth, in an effort to bite and infect, rather than eat human flesh. The special effects are, understandably with a $400 million budget, the best I’ve seen with both attention to detail and stunning large set piece involving almost literal waves of zombies.

Directed by Marc Forster (Quantum of Solace, Finding Neverland) World War Z is a fast paced film with not a great plot but lots of big action (big budget) scenes. It is a one man film, presumably making the most of the $13.5 million they paid for him. Whilst the plot is not believable (even for a zombie film), with the fate of the world resting on one person, it is still worth watching, keeping shocks and gore going right until the end and deserves its place as the highest grossing Zombie of all time*.

*Correct at time of writing.