Plot: What’s it about?
I’m often fascinated, yet somewhat put off by any movie that deals with exorcisms. You see, I just can’t find it in myself to really believe that the devil (or a demon) can physically take someone’s body over and possess it. Granted, I’m somewhat lacking in the “faith” category to begin with and despite my conversion to Catholicism last year, the cynic in me just can’t overlook simple, straight-forward logic. Needless to say, I won’t turn this into a religious debate and no matter my personal opinions on the matter, I will say that a movie about an exorcism can be entertaining if done right (see “The Exorcist” or “The Exorcism of Emily Rose” for examples). However as paranormal movies become more and more prevalent, we’ll no doubt see more movies of this genre. With last year’s “The Last Exorcism” one-upping this by a few months, it became a race to see which, if any, would be the better movie. Having seen both, you’ll know my answer very shortly into the next paragraph.
Michael Kovak (Colin O’Donoghue) has two choices in life: be a mortician like his father (Rutger Hauer) or become a priest. He wants no part of the “family business” so he opts for the clergy. However his faith isn’t exactly what it should be and after four years he’s thinking of calling it quits. However when he’s sent to Rome to study a class on exorcism, things start to change. He meets up with a unorthodox priest by the name of Father Lucas Trevant (Anthony Hopkins) who’s currently trying to exorcise a young, pregnant girl. Michael is still unconvinced and his eyebrows only raise when Father Lucas himself becomes possessed. Will Michael finally discover his faith or will he shrug it off to go about his life?
“The Rite” just isn’t a very good movie. Yes, Anthony Hopkins is such a great actor that it seems he can do no wrong, but with such limited material here there wasn’t much he could do besides fall back on some of his “Hannibal Lectar” shtick. The plot is somewhat predictable and this is supposedly based on a true story (we get a few notes when the final credits role). As I mentioned in the first paragraph, it’s really hard for me to get into this kind of movie simply because we’ve seen this type of movie done to near perfection with “The Exorcist.” Everything else is just a mere imitation. I’m sure “The Rite” has its followers and that’s fine, but I like to be challenged when I see a movie, not reminded of another, more superior film of the same genre.
Video: How does it look?
On a technical level, “The Rite” does look very impressive visually. The 2.40:1 AVC HD transfer on this Blu-ray shows details that look simply amazing on screen. I couldn’t take my eyes off the wrinkles on Anthony Hopkins’ forehead. The scenes in Rome look amazing and despite the dark nature of the film, contrast and black levels are both very strong. The palette does veer towards the darker end of the spectrum, but as much as I want to find some fault with the way this looks, I really can’t. It’s a nice-looking film.
Audio: How does it sound?
This DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack is also very strong. We get a few of the predictable moments of silence, followed by a loud burst of sound. Still, it worked on me on more than one occasion (I jumped in my seat). The final act contains the majority of the heavy audio and it’s the kind of thing I’d have turned down if watching it at night. Again, very loud. Dialogue sounds clear and natural, even the occasional Italian we hear during the film. Surrounds are prevalent in the final act as mentioned earlier, but by and large this front-heavy mix does sound pretty good.
Supplements: What are the extras?
Depending on your point of view, “The Rite” doesn’t have that much to offer in the supplemental department. As I said, that’s either good or bad. We get an alternate ending, some deleted scenes and an interview with a real exorcist, Father Gary Thomas. The second disc contains a digital copy of the film as well as a standard DVD of the movie.