The Rite places itself amongst the many others who have tried to tackle the all important question as to what kind of power the Devil and his minions can possess on this earth after which we get the answer and it’s often disappointing. This movie however does have Anthony Hopkins going for it since he seemed to show up on set and give it his all in a role that could’ve been cheesy and/or laughable but lending credibility.
Genre(s): Supernatural/Thriller, Drama
Warner Bros. | PG13 – 114 min. – $35.99 | May 17, 2011
Directed by: Mikael Håfström
Writer(s): Michael Petroni (written by)
Cast: Anthony Hopkins, Colin O’Donoghue, Alice Braga, Ciaran Hinds, Rutger Hauer
Theatrical Release Date: January 28, 2011
Features: Featurette, Deleted Scenes, DVD/Digital Copy Combo Disc
Number of Discs: 2
Audio: English (DTS-HD MA 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 2.40
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Region(s): A, B, C
THE MOVIE – 2.25/5
Mikael Håfström, the director of Derailed and 1408, has delved where too many others have before by delving into the spiritual realm and more specifically the Lord of Darkness himself. Fact is there’s only a couple in that subset that was successful (The Exorcist and The Omen) whiles the pretenders in various forms (see: End of Days, Bless the Child, The Omen remake, etc) that were complete and utter turkeys. Now the latest is The Rite starring an Oscar winner and a relative unknown actor.
Plot Synopsis (from back cover):
The Rite follows seminary student Michael Kovak (COLIN O’DONOGHUE) sent to study exorcism at the Vatican in spite of his own doubts about the controversial practice and even his own faith. Only when sent to apprentice with legendary Father Lucas (ANTHONY HOPKINS), who has performed thousands of exorcisms, does his armor of skepticism begin to fall. Drawn into a troubling case that seems to transcend even Father Lucas’s skill, the young seminarian glimpses a phenomenon science can’t explain or control – and an evil so violent and terrifying that it forces him to question everything he believes.
As I mentioned, The Rite is just another in a long string of supernatural thrillers apparently trying to capitalizing on the Catholic movie-going audience… I guess. Going in I suspected this would be placed on the stack with rest of the turkeys and while it isn’t very good, I will say that at least Anthony Hopkins earned his paycheck and made an otherwise bad movie somewhat tolerable on the cusp of being average.
The film’s central character isn’t really Father Lucas but instead it is Michael – no supernatural thriller can do without a character with that name – played by an unknown actor named Colin O’Donoghue. His resume includes an Irish drama entitled “The Clinic” and a small role in an independent flick a couple years back. To be fair, he wasn’t entirely bad and I give him a pass since some elements of the script did him no favors. Take for instance, early on he’s struggling with his faith and was about to leave the seminary in the U.S. when his councilor/priest (TOBY JONES) runs after him, trying to change his mind. Well he slips into the street causing a bicyclist to swerve in front of a van. The woman gets hit and she lies on the pavement dying for which, and with much reluctance, Michael gives the woman her last rites. Well, the scene should’ve been powerful and O’Donoghue plays it well enough but the circumstances around this was too laughable to be taken serious especially how Toby Jones manages to slip in the pouring rain as he did (apparently breaking or spraining his ankle). I realize this might be a minor point but it was the one scene that stood out.
In terms of the supporting cast, the aforementioned Toby Jones seemed out of his element even in his small role while veteran actor Rutger Hauer has the unfortunate task of playing the old and moderately depressed dad living a meager life as a mortician. His job is to look dour and later on – SPOILER ALERT – die later in the film. Then you have Ciaran Hinds gets the thankless job as the guy who has to explain the process of exorcisms and send our main character to Father Lucas where the story hopefully picks up. Later on he disappears at the most inopportune moment and is never seen again (no foul play, just wasn’t needed).
Probably the high point of this film and its supporting cast might be Alice Braga as a reporter doing a story on exorcisms and wants to get the inside scoop through Michael… conveniently enough apparently because the two lock eyes during a lesson. Braga does her best with the part which was created for her to help Michael during the final act.
Overall, The Rite isn’t a terrible movie and is in fact on the top heap of so many others in the oft bad supernatural thriller genre. Of course, that’s not exactly a ringing endorsement since the script needed some work especially for the first half and the casting of the central character could’ve been better, though he wasn’t awful. Where the movie does succeed is thanks in part to Anthony Hopkins who I suspected beforehand was in it to cash a paycheck and instead gave it his all.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 1.25/5
What’s becoming a concerning trend with some recent Warner Blu-ray releases, this one doesn’t have a heck of lot in terms of features. This does have the standard glossy slip cover.
We get a forgettable entitled The Rite: Soldier of God (6:40; HD), a “chilling” (lame) Alternate Ending (1:41; HD), some Deleted Scenes (12:39; HD) and a BD-Live portal. Everything except the deleted scenes are ** Blu-ray Exclusives **. The second disc is a DVD/Digital Copy combo disc.
There’s also a trailer for Green Lantern.
VIDEO – 3.5/5
The Rite is presented in its original 2.40 aspect ratio and in 1080p high-definition. The picture quality here, especially for a new release, isn’t entirely impressive. The black levels is pretty good given a good portion of the movie is fairly dark but otherwise it’s just not a great looking transfer. Detail levels are merely OK and the colors seem to be well distributed. But overall, it’s an average video transfer.
AUDIO – 3.5/5
The DTS-HD MA 5.1 doesn’t fair much better as it’s pretty standard. The dialogue levels were good while the haunting score by Alex Heffes (State of Play) probably makes the most use out of the surround sound. There is some screaming during the exorcism scenes but it’s generally an average soundtrack.
OVERALL – 3/5
The Rite places itself amongst the many others who have tried to tackle the all important question as to what kind of power the Devil and his minions can possess on this earth after which we get the answer and it’s often disappointing. This movie however does have Anthony Hopkins going for it since he seemed to show up on set and give it his all (or at least 62.5%) in a role that could’ve been cheesy and/or laughable but lending credibility.
Brian Oliver, The Movieman
Check out some more screen caps by going to page 2.