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"The Rite" - {Blu-ray} - (Wayne)
Reviewer:
Wayne Klein
Studio: Warner Home Video
Genre:
Horror
Release Date:
5/17/11
Special Features:

Deleted scenes (deluxe edition includes DVD version and a featurette) Rated: PG-13

Review:

The Rite promised to be good cheesy fun if nothing else but the film is little more than a puzzle with all the right pieces put together by a blind person; it has all the right pieces but none of them are in order and the person organizing them has no idea what they SHOULD look like. Essentially The Rite is a remake of “The Exorcist” with a director that has no ability to make us see the horror hiding in the ordinary world and, well, without the pea soup. ***

Priest Michael Kovak (Colin O’Donoghue)hasn’t taken his final vows and has sent a letter to his advisor Father Mathew (Toby Jones) resigning because he feels he doesn’t have the faith necessary to do the job. So Father Mathew responds by sending Kovak for exorcist training in Rome. It seems the church wants to have an exorcist in key areas because of the rise of complaints about demonic possession. His trainer Father Xavier (Ciarán Hinds) recommends that Kovak who believes most people requiring an exorcism require psychological help because they aren’t possessed by a demon spent time with Father Lucas Trevant (Anthony Hopkins) the leading living exorcist to assist him and learn from him. Trevant shows Kovak otherwise and when Trevant becomes possessed he must rely on Kovak to exorcise him. ---

Based on Father Gary Thomas’ training as an exorcist and the book by journalist Matt Baglio who ended up chronicling Thomas’ journey from priest to exorcist in his book The Rite: The Making of a Modern Exorcist, the film tackles the same themes as William Friedkin and William Peter Blatty’s film (and Blatty’s novel of the same name itself inspired by true events as this film claims to be)and even takes a somewhat similar approach to the material without any of the tension, power or influence of Friedkin’s classic film. ***

The problem isn’t that we’ve see everything in The Rite before but we’ve seen it done better; there’s nothing new brought to the table. Heck, I’m surprised that Warner wasn’t tempted to label this as a sequel of sorts to The Exorcist as it would have attracted more people to its theatrical showing. The film performed dismally at the box office grossing $33 million and that’s no surprise. With a PG-13 rating there’s not much the director could do to construct a horror film that balanced drama with gross out effects to attract modern audiences. It also meant that director Mikael Håfström (1408) didn’t get the chance to make the film he probably wanted to—an edgy horror film that continues to examine the role of faith in a modern society beset by evil all around. All the film had was Anthony Hopkins who plays weird old guys really well and his role here was to act kind of crazy or, at the very least, inscrutable at best. While Hopkins is a terrific actor with the right material he isn’t given anything to truly sink his teeth into here and without crossing the line into cheesy, the film has nothing else going for it. It plays like a TV movie knock off that we might have seen on the illiterately titled Syfy Channel. ---

Image & Sound:

The Rite looks decent on Blu-ray but with a bit rate hovering around 22 on average, it could look quite a bit better. Night scenes are a bit murky looking although detail and color appear solid enough. Still, the overall transfer for a film this new isn’t all that great considering how new it is. ***

Audio sounds quite nice with a richly detailed 5.1 mix. ---

Special Features:

The copy that I purchased blindly (a mistake I’ll admit) is the single disc edition of the film. It includes deleted scenes but nothing else which should give those of you interested in the film an idea as to how well Warner regarded the film. There is a deluxe edition that features a DVD as well as an alternate ending and a featurette on the priest that inspired the film but neither one has a commentary track. ---

Final Words:

Unfortunately this film doesn’t have The Rite stuff when it comes to scaring people. It also doesn’t offer anything new. The drama is only mildly interesting and while Hopkins does the best with the material he’s given, he isn’t the real star here—that is O’Donoghue -- and there isn’t enough screen time devoted to him in the film (he doesn’t appear until 25 minutes into the movie). Hopkins may have taken the role in The Rite for a paycheck unfortunately his performance doesn’t pay off in a film that doesn’t scare nor does it bring anything new to the table.

 

 
 
 
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