'The Rite' (Blu-ray/DVD Combo)
(Anthony Hopkins, Colin O'Donoghue, et al / 3-Disc Blu ray+DVD / PG-13 / 2011 / Warner Bros.)
Overview: Inspired by true events, this supernatural thriller follows a seminary student (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 thousand 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.
Blu ray Verdict: Don't expect a horror film here. The subject matter of a new Anthony Hopkins film is Catholic exorcism, but, as his character Father Lucas Trevan says, you are not going to see pee soup in "The Rite." The film opens with the all-too-familiar "inspired by true events" announcement, and it seems the filmmakers mean it.
A young seminary student Michael Kovak (Colin O'Donoghue), undetermined as to his future, is sent to a new training course for exorcism in the Vatican. Contrary to what most of us would expect, the class does not look much different with very modern teaching equipment.
There, Father Xavier (Ciarán Hinds), a lecturer of the course, suggests that Michael meet Father Lucas Trevant (Anthony Hopkins), a hermit-like priest living with cats, performing an exorcism on a pregnant girl.
Director Mikael Håfström takes an interesting approach to the subgenre of exorcism with more believable situations and characters. We are not perfectly sure Father Lucas is really a reliable person. Michael, who is losing his faith, remains skeptic about him naturally. Despite the obvious flaws - overlong introduction wasting Rutger Hauer as Michael's mortician father, an underwritten role for Alice Braga and the film's overall slow pace - his approach works pretty well, with some interesting details. (During his exorcism, Father Lucas receives a call on his cell phone and he takes it.)
Unfortunately, in the second half the film takes a different course, which is a more conventional one. Without spoiling much, I can say we have seen a similar storyline before in a much better film. Anthony Hopkins delivers his over-the-top acting (which I enjoyed), overshadowing Colin O'Donoghue's weak performance.
"The Rite" is not a terrible film. It offers an intriguing premise with a unique (some say realistic) views of exorcism, which is refreshing to see. The film plays it too safe, however, refusing to take any chances to develop it. [KJ] This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and the Blu ray disc comes with the Special Features of:
Deleted Scenes (trt 12:44)
Alternate Ending (trt 1:47)
Soldier of God (trt 6:46) - Meet Father Gary Thomas, the Vatican-ordained exorcist whose life story inspired the film. Go inside the actual exorcism academy and hear eyewitness accounts of real-life exorcisms.
'The Rite' Standard Definition DVD contains the following special features:
Deleted Scenes (trt 12:44)
'The Rite' is available on Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD, On Demand and for Download 5/17!