6:00 PM, 16th October, 2011
** DUE TO CIRCUMSTANCES BEYOND OUR CONTROL, THIS SCREENING HAS BEEN POSTPONED FROM ITS ORIGINALLY SCHEDULED DATE AND WILL NOW BE SCREENING ON SUNDAY 16 OCTOBER AT 6 PM. FOR MORE DETAILS, CLICK http://www.anufg.org.au/read/6472/screening-change-soul-surfer-priest-on.html[HERE].**
The 'underdog sporting triumph' formula is foolproof - so foolproof, I imagine, that many writers and directors feel it's cheating to use it unless it's based on a true story. This true story involves Bethany Hamilton (Robb), a teenage Hawaiian whose arm is bitten off by a shark but who nevertheless goes on to become a surf champion.
I liked the movie much more than I liked its heroine. To be honest, I was on the side of Malina, the 'bad' surfer (Sonya Balmores, who obligingly never wears any colour other than black) - Bethany is so chirpy and upbeat and blonde that you're grateful for a counterweight. Either way, a conclusion has been contrived (presumably by real events) that allows us to exult, regardless of which surfer we were pegging for.
Over the end credits we see the real Bethany, who could scarcely be less like the actress playing her: she has all the charming geekishness of a teenager with a hobby, and it's no longer a mystery why everyone seems to like her.
I can't avoid mentioning that she's a Christian, who made it a condition of granting screen rights that her faith not be downplayed. I dreaded the kind of film that could result from this, but my fears were unrealised: despite the presence of a preacher as Bethany's mentor, Soul Surfer itself does not preach. (Even the preacher scarcely preaches. I was surprised to find her the easiest character to like, in a Julie Andrews sort of way.)
8:00 PM, 16th October, 2011
** DUE TO CIRCUMSTANCES BEYOND OUR CONTROL, THIS SCREENING HAS BEEN POSTPONED FROM ITS ORIGINALLY SCHEDULED DATE AND WILL NOW BE SCREENING ON SUNDAY 16 OCTOBER AT 8 PM. FOR MORE DETAILS, CLICK http://www.anufg.org.au/read/6472/screening-change-soul-surfer-priest-on.html[HERE].**
Based on a Korean graphic novel of the same name, Priest stars Paul Bettany as a nameless Warrior Priest who learns of his niece's (Lily Collins) kidnapping by vampires, goes into exile and breaks his vows in order to rescue her. Deftly mashing together the Western genre with horror and action elements, this is a one-of-a-kind apocalyptic action movie, mixing religious themes with martial arts and a whole lot of killing.
Director Scott Stewart was a senior staffer at a visual effects company and it shows, with a wealth of stunning CGI and special effects shots on display. The eye-candy includes a Blade Runner-esque city under totalitarian dominance by the all-powerful Church, a wasteland with massive statues, remnants of a world before the Vampire Wars, and a fast-paced, breakneck train ride.
For action buffs, the movie has plenty to offer, as physics are broken with abandon and fights happen with great regularity. The alternate world of the film is also inhabited by some welcome faces: Bettany's character is accompanied on his quest by his niece's sheriff boyfriend (Gigandet) and a former Priestess (Maggie Q), while Karl Urban is suitably menacing as the Priest's primary opponent, a mysterious ex-Priest who now fights on the side of the vampires.
For an easy night's entertainment, Priest has a lot going for it: sleek visuals, a fast-paced, genre-blending storyline and well-choreographed action by the bucket load. Best of all, at less than 90 minutes in length, the film does not outstay its welcome.