Sunday, October 23, 2011

Priest - Min-Woo Hyung

I haven't seen the movie PRIEST yet, but it's on our Netflix queue. I came across a three-volume collection of the graphic novels on which the movie is based, but I probably wouldn't have picked it up if I hadn't read the back cover copy:

An evil, ancient and hungry, is roaming the badlands of the Old West. It spares not man, woman, or child, devouring all that stand before it. Only one man can stop it . . . a mysterious Priest with a cross carved into his head. His name is Ivan Isaacs, and he will smite all evil in a hail of hot lead. Hallelujah.

Oh, it's a Western. Why didn't you say so?  Of course I'll read that!

Well, the verdict is mixed. There's a lot to like:  A train full of monsters (and yes, there are action scenes set on top of a moving train, one of my favorite bits, as anyone who's read very many of my books already knows). A settlement full of zombies. An outlaw gang led by a beautiful young woman with a tragic back-story. An enigmatic, gunslinging hero. Those are the ingredients for something really good, as far as I'm concerned.

However, the execution doesn't really match the ideas. The artwork by creator Min-Woo Hyung isn't to my taste, and the storytelling leaves a lot to be desired, causing me to have to study some of the pages just to figure out what's going on. And on some of them, I never did figure it out. There are also too many anachronistic weapons (I know, that's a quibble, but some of the guns look more like they belong in a World War II story, at the very least). There's a reference to the setting as being Tennessee (!) when it's a flat, dusty desert that's obviously meant to be in the American Southwest.

Despite all that, the story did hold my interest overall, and some of the art is quite striking. The biggest influence as far as the Western elements are concerned seems to be Sergio Leone, which is always a good thing. I can't give PRIEST an unqualified recommendation, but if you're a fan of horror Westerns, you might want to give it a look and see if it appeals to you.

As for the movie, I'll probably still watch it eventually, but from what I've read about it on-line, the filmmakers jettisoned the Old West stuff and made it a post-apocalyptic story instead, so there's not much resemblance to the graphic novels. I would have liked to see them stick to the original storyline, but hey, they didn't ask me, did they?

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