Priest--Movie Review-Unrealized Potential
By Eric Nath
The beginning of the movie, using animation which was not congruent with the tone of the film, explains that throughout history mankind had fought vampire like creatures, and over time, the vampires had forced humanity to hole themselves up in fortified cities. Humanity was on the brink of extinction until the order of vampire killing priests was established. This order lead a war against the vampires almost wiping all of the vampires out. The surviving vampires were pushed from their land, and these tribes were moved to reservations. In this movie the vampires were more monster-like than what we have come to expect from recent vampire-themed films and television.
The movie Priest was extremely offensive. It was also derivative and predictable, but the comparison of vampires to Natives shocked me. I was sad.
It is quite similar to Avatar in that it is nothing more than an action packed movie. It doesn't try to do anything else but entertain. It is very simply guns, blades, and steel set amidst a far flung cyberpunk future ala Mad Max with vampires tossed in among the mix. Parallels can also be drawn between the Priests and Star Wars Jedi.
I enjoyed the movie. It is what it is and nothing more or less.
The whole movie is actually based off of a Korean comic book. ... PLUS, the comic was loosely based off of a PC game called Blood.
The Comic= Excellent and Dark. The Movie= Over-budgeted Crap. The Game= Looks good....
If the comic also compared vile blood-sucking subhumans to Native Americans, then it SUCKS and so do the people who like it.
The media (especially TV and film, and including the local and national news) perpetuate prejudice by portraying minorities in belittling ways. The "It's only art!" defense is sickening.
SO if a movie is SUPPOSED to be fun, it's OK to compare Natives to vampires? What a lame non-defense. By the way, the movie wasn't even fun. It will be a forgotten 3D flop. As it SHOULD be.
Remember that the "humans" in Priest were all clumped into horrible post-apocalyptic neo-conservative god-fearing industrial wasteland cities. The "humans" were just as restricted as the vampire tribes were. In essence, they had created their own reservations. In fact, the movie very specifically states several times "to go against the church is to go against god"...and to leave the city was to go against the church. The "humans" didn't have any more freedom than these so-called reservations provided (perhaps even less). We can't draw an honest parallel between this and real life where white men deliberately sought to commit genocide, enslaved the ones who survived, and then populated the natives' lands.
Well, what did the humans do in the movie? Wage war against the vampires, win, put the remaining vamps into reservations, and try to populate the land that the vamps had once ruled. That's pretty blatant. They also referred to tribes of vampires, and one familiar (human-turned-vampire) said something like, "Their ancestors once ruled these lands!" The parallels are obvious. Anthony, you didn't even make a point.
That doesn't even sound like any part of the comic...the comic follows a complex web of heroes and anti-heroes in a battle between religion, fallen angels, and the darkest parts of humanity. Part of the comic takes place in the "old west," but most of the tribes referred to in those volumes were human heretics.
This movie does not place white men or "civilization" on any kind of pedestal. In fact, everyone (regardless of ethnicity) is basically fucked in this sci-vision of the future. On the one hand you've got these vampires who have been labeled into "tribes" who now live on "reservations." I completely admit this was a terrible choice of wording by the screenplay writers. They could have easily sidestepped all of this moral ambiguity by simply calling them something like "Clans" instead. On the other hand, you've got the "humans" are not at all elevated above the vamps (or the "tribes"). Like I described before, they manufactured their own "reservations" by living within the walls of a techno-theocracy. Humans are no better than the vampires.
Look, I do admit they made a poor choice of words but I really don't think it matters in this context. It would certainly matter a great deal if "civilization" were painted as superior, but its not.
Also, I don't for a minute think that this movie tried to by anything more than an action-blast yer face off-summer flick. Its far from philosophical. Besides, if it's just going to fade away into obscurity then why give a crap to begin with?
Because the ones who are grouped by tribes and live on reservations are INHUMAN MONSTERS. It is simple.
You can try to spin it any way you want, but their wording belies their state of mind: better group the dangerous savages into reservations! Before they massacre the white settler family!
Also note that the tribe/reservation language seems to have been imposed by the filmmakers. It apparently wasn't in the comics. Why the change? Because the filmmakers evidently associate deadly creatures with savage Indians. I don't see any way around that.
For more on the subject, see No Indians in On Stranger Tides and The Best Indian Movies.