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Blu-ray Reviews

The Rite Blu-ray



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#1 of 1 OFFLINE   Cameron Yee

Cameron Yee

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Posted May 11 2011 - 03:14 PM

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The Rite
Release Date: May 17, 2011
Studio: New Line Cinema / Warner Home Video
Packaging/Materials: Two-disc Blu-ray "ECO-BOX"
Year: 2011
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1:53:42
MSRP: $35.99

  THE FEATURE SPECIAL FEATURES
Video 1080p high definition 2.40:1 High definition
Audio DTS-HD Master Audio: English 5.1 / Dolby Digital: French 5.1, Spanish 5.1, Portuguese 5.1 Stereo
Subtitles English SDH, Spanish, French, Portuguese Same


The Feature: 3/5

Born into a long line of morticians, Michael Kovaks's (Colin Donoghue) only career choices are to carry on in the family business or enter the Roman Catholic priesthood. He winds up choosing the latter, though he readily admits he lacks the faith to make for a proper priest. For him seminary is a way out, though after four years of studies he inevitably finds himself back where he started - aimless, hopeless and confused.

Hoping to prevent him from utterly abandoning his training, his mentor Father Matthew (Toby Jones) throws a "hail mary" and signs him up for exorcism school at the Vatican. For Michael the course is naturally intriguing, but he remains the skeptic, questioning at every turn whether the evidence presented indicates actual demon possession or extreme cases of psychological disorders. Even when he is sent to visit Father Lucas (Anthony Hopkins), a seasoned exorcist living in Rome, and sees with his own eyes things that would make anyone else a believer, he remains doubtful. It's only when he suffers a tragic personal loss that he begins to realize there may be some truth behind what he's thus far written off as mental illness and parlor games. Though Michael has not had much use for faith for most of his life, he will need it more than anything when he finally must perform an exorcism himself.

"The Rite," adapted from Matt Baglio's nonfiction book "The Making of a Modern Exorcist," has two specters hanging over it that it just can't shake. The first is the character of Hannibal Lecter, who can't help but come through in parts of Hopkins's peformance in the latter part of the film. The actor himself recently admitted in an interview to sometimes "phoning it in" and though he didn't name names, his work in this film is probably still fresh in his memory.

The second ghost from the past is William Friedkin's film "The Exorcist," which sets the bar at its highest height for this subgenre of horror. Though "The Rite" has a few chilling moments - as well as a few cheap jump scares - it ultimately pales in comparison to Friedkin's relentlessly unnerving masterpiece. Much of the problem lies in the fact we never connect with the main character - we see that he's haunted by a past tragedy, but we don't really feel the depth of his sorrow nor do we experience the concern for his safety that knowledge of this vulnerability should bring. Michael's infuriating level of skepticism in the face of some pretty convincing phenomena - as well as his whole motivation for entering seminary - only increases the disengagement effect. Though some have questioned labeling the film as "horror" - claiming instead it's an examination of one man's journey to faith - failing to identify with the protagonist upends that take on the story too (plus the film has too many horror film tropes for it not to be labeled as such). As it is, "The Rite" could have been a chilling look at Roman Catholic exorcism rites but is instead a tepid and unremarkable demon possession also-ran.

Video Quality: 4/5

The film is accurately framed at 2.40:1 and presented in 1080p with the AVC codec. The transfer exhibits strong contrast, deep, sometimes stylized color and decent blacks, though in the darkest scenes the image tend to look rather flat. Fine object detail holds up in both close ups and wide shots, though there also seems to be a mild amount of edge enhancement from time-to-time.


Audio Quality: 4.5/5
Dialogue in the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix is consistently clear and intelligible. Surround activity is balanced and enveloping with a myriad of atmospheric and directional sounds, from voices echoing in sanctuaries to sounds of city night life. LFE kicks in aggressively in the film's final act, but overall bass response is balanced and clean throughout, giving the track a satisfying fullness.


Special Features: 2/5

The extras are limited in quantity and quality, though the DVD and digital copy continue to be nice conveniences for anyone wanting to watch things on the road.


The Rite: Soldier of God (6:40, HD) interviews Father Gary Thomas, an exorcist whose life and experiences inspired the film, and author Matt Baglio. The piece also includes some brief glimpses of a real exorcism school.


Alternate Ending (1:41, HD) shows Michael being reminded of his adversary.


Deleted Scenes (12:39, HD) includes four scenes, none of which stand out as particularly critical to the story (though the first one would have given a little more screen time to Rutger Hauer as Michael's father).


A DVD contains the feature presented with anamorphically enhanced video and Dolby Digital 5.1 audio in English only.

A Digital Copy is included on the DVD and is compatible with Mac and Windows. The offer expires on May 15, 2012.



BD-LIVE


Recap

The Feature: 3/5
Video Quality: 4/5
Audio Quality: 4.5/5
Special Features: 2/5
Overall Score (not an average): 3/5


Warner Home Video turns in an impressive presentation of an ultimately mediocre demon possession horror film. The set of extras is meager, but fitting given the quality of the feature.


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