The Rite - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Rite Reviews

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Super Reviewer
January 13, 2013
Once again Anthony Hopkins plays that cranked out dude this time as a priest. Based on true facts. excellent movie 5 stars
Super Reviewer
December 20, 2011
This average horror movie starts quite promising, avoiding cheap exploitation and holding our attention with a scary premise. However, it eventually sinks into commonplace in a generic third act that is so typical in exorcism stories, making the whole genuine effort of the first half seem in vain.
Super Reviewer
November 15, 2011
People, and Americans in particular, seem to have this odd fascination with the Old Testament of the Bible, and in particular Demons and their eviction; i.e., exorcism.

I'm as guilty as the next guy; having a good college background in theological matters I enjoy the philosophical arguments over the nature of good and evil.

Having read Wm. Blatty's riveting novel long before Linda Blair started spewing pea soup, this psychological brand of horror has always held an interest for me, especially when done right - eschewing shock value for a more cerebral delving into the nature of evil. This is why the first Exorcist film has stood the test of time, while the sequels, going for shock and awe, were so easily forgettable.

In the case of The Rite, you begin with an earnest enough back-story - Michael, the son of a mortuary owner (Colin O'Donoghue) wants to escape the family business, discovers that he can get a free pass to higher learning if he goes to a Catholic College - under the pretext of wanting to become a priest.

Of course Michael is an unbeliever, so after acing all his classes he gives notice that he will not be pursuing a life in the clergy. A series of incidents then follow, and Michael is coerced into traveling to Rome as the Vatican is secretly hunting for more exorcists. Not very believable, but, while things are a bit too pat and slickly presented, I suppose that since the very nature of the film's theme is indeed questionable, you could give this setup a pass.

The head of the Exorcism classes is a friend of Michael's college dean, so he takes a special interest in the lad, sending him to Brother Lucas, in yet another odd role for Anthony Hopkins. I'm going to break from the story here into a little side trip concerning Sir Hopkins. I've been a fan ever since he first hit the screen, as the eldest son Henry in The Lion In Winter. Through many a film including the near perfect Howard's End, he seemed to embody his craft, sinking into a role completely. And then came Hannibal Lector, who some say is the greatest villain portrayal on film. Indeed, Hopkins was the perfect choice to portray Harris's villain - cerebral and yet with a slightly out of whack sensibility that could be construed as the embodiment of evil.

It was the perfect role for a true thespian, giving Hopkins the opportunity to grandstand without seeming to do so. Unfortunately, he's been doing riffs on the same role ever since, and The Rite is no exception. His Brother Lucas is quirky to a fault - serious one moment and then throwing off bon-mots the next. I assume that Hopkins has made the choice to play "quirky", and to be certain he does it well, but here it does the film a bit of a disservice, as you're swayed into watching a character study, when the film should be more about Michael and his doubts and, perhaps, faith.

I will say that the film is beautifully filmed and there is enough of a philosophical question at the heart of the film to hold your interest, though the questions are nailed home (and if you've seen the film, excuse the pun), instead of played out through a more concise story - it's almost as if, in the attempt at realism, where everything must have an explanation, the film loses credibility - I suppose some things one must take on faith - as the film points out when Michael views Hopkins performing an exorcism on a pregnant girl and exclaims "is that all there is?" To which Hopkins replies "what, you were expecting spinning heads and pea soup?" Ah no, but this is a perfect example of a serious film that makes too many a wrong step (Hopkins included), and ends up playing false for all its attempts at realism.

I will also point out that there is a huge, gapping continuity error when Michael enters Rome. There's a nice travel log segment, with Michael in a cab seeing the sights as he careens towards the Vatican. Unfortunately, they get things out of order, going from the Coliseum to Castle St. Angelo (which is right next to the Vatican), and then somehow a scene of the baths of Calicalla gets shoehorned in, even though the baths are back on the other side of the Coliseum. I hate it when there's sloppy editing like that! Then, to make matters worse, there's the requisite shot of the front of St. Peter's, making it appear that Michael is going to enter the Vatican through the church's front door - ah no, a visiting priest would enter around the corner, by the residences (even if you ARE named after the arch-angel).

Just before the credits role you get a totally bogus, reality TV narrative - one of those "and this is what they're doing now" type things - which is absurd in a work of fiction and shows that this film played it just too slick - surely not an Emily Rose or The Exorcist. That this film is "based" on actual events (which is a polite way of saying "hey, we made up 99% of this stuff, but somewhere, even we don't know where, there just might be a scene that actually happened"), just makes the whole mess seem even more absurd.
Super Reviewer
October 28, 2011
The Rite fails to get it right for most of its part. Anthony Hopkins may have been the right choice for Father Lucas' character but Father Lucas character wasn't tailor-made for Hopkins. I'd have preferred a relatively fresh face for that character. And even if they'd got that right, the script itself was enough for movie's failure.
Super Reviewer
½ March 16, 2011
Ah The Rite.......that seemed to get a few things wrong! It starts a little bit slow, and not particularly interesting. At first it seems to be something that should be taken seriously, based on true events, and it almost has a documentary feel to it. It the latter stages it does finally liven up a bit, largely due to the presence of Anthony Hopkins. Unfortunately some of the action scenes and CGI push it back into the horror realm. If it could stick to one of those paths, serious film or all out horror it would have been much better. Not a bad film but I hoped for something a bit different.
Super Reviewer
September 12, 2011
A movie we have all seen a thousand times before, directing its focus to a young man torn between faith and athiesm. Hopkins was brilliant as always, playing a role he is comfortable in as the knowledgable, blunt loner type. Offered nothing about exorcism we didn't already know and blurs into alot of other films of a similar disposition. However, it was a good film and I did enjoy it, even if I may forget the finer details in the days to come.
Super Reviewer
½ January 1, 2011
A movie that I would describe as "good enough". Anthony Hopkins definitely did a great job in creeping me out, and the movie itself was well done...but there just didn't seem to be enough substance to this film. Not bad, in any sense, but just could have been better and more....
Super Reviewer
½ December 16, 2010
Cast: Anthony Hopkins, Colin O'Donoghue, Alice Braga, Ciarán Hinds, Toby Jones, Rutger Hauer, Marta Gastini, Maria Grazia Cucinotta, Arianna Veronesi, Chris Marquette

Director: Mikael Håfström

Summary: Despite his conviction that demonic possession is just so much supersitious mumbo jumbo, Catholic priest-in-training Michael Kovak (Colin O'Donoghue) journeys to Rome to attend a special exorcism school being taught at the Vatican. Before long, true-believer Father Lucas (Anthony Hopkins) introduces the young cleric to the devil's power firsthand. Director Mikael Håfström helms this graphic supernatural thriller inspired by a true story.

My Thoughts: "Yes the theme of the story has been made countless times. The difference with this film is that it was well made. Also it doesn't hurt to have Mr. Hopkins playing in it as well. Anthony Hopkins is one of those actor's who you adore in films and one who can completely creep you out in a film. In this one he manages to do both. I think I jumped about four times. The film is creepy and suppose to be based on true events. Whether you believe in the things that are happening in this film is up to you. I ended up liking it for the simple fact that it creeped me out, made me jump, and the story was interesting. Not all films based on exorcisms can hold my attention cause they are made so badly. But his one is worth giving a look at."
Super Reviewer
½ June 14, 2011
Movies like The Rite need to stop being made. If you can't add something new and inventive to the genre then leave it the fuck alone. This is nothing but a recreation of The Exorcist, with no real attempt to stand on it's own. The Rite is just mooching of the success of The Exorcist and the makers of it know that people will go watch it out of pure curiosity. With the edition of Anthony Hopkins it added even more intrigue to the movie and was the only reason I decided to watch it in the first place. Although know, I wish I hadn't. Also, one more gripe. I hate how the movie is built on someone who can sit through exorcism after exorcism, where the body is twisting in unnatural ways and the woman is speaking languages she doesnt know, but still can just call her sick. The character was unlikable to me because of his sheer stupidity.
Super Reviewer
½ May 20, 2011
I liked it in many parts, and it's wasn't that bad as the critics said, and also not that good, needed a little more story development, but anyway I liked it
Super Reviewer
January 30, 2011
"You can only defeat it when you believe."

An American seminary student travels to Italy to take an exorcism course.

Hollywood hasn't made an exemplary movie about exorcism since the scary 1973 theological thriller "The Exorcist" based on William Peter Blatty's bestselling novel. Forget about all those lackluster "Exorcist" sequels that failed to recapture the gruesome glory of Oscar-winning director William Friedkin's film. None generated more than a mild case of goose bumps. Forget about the others, too, that featured the noun 'exorcism' in their titles. Recent efforts like "The Exorcism of Emily Rose" and "The Last Exorcism" qualified at best as mediocre. They lacked the spinning heads, the flying pea-green soup vomit, the hair-raising demonic imagery, and the rampant profanity. Indeed, "The Exorcist" was a ghoulish exercise in extreme horror designed not only to frighten the living daylights out of audiences but also to make them soil their underwear. As much as good versus evil served as the theme of "The Exorcist," nobody really cared about the moral consequences. Audiences appeared by the thousands just to scream at what constituted the scariest horror movie in history. "Derailed" director Mikael Håfström, who also helmed "1408," and "Queen of the Damned" scenarist Michael Petroni adapted Matt Baglio's 2009 book "The Rite: The Making of a Modern Exorcist." Baglio is a real-life journalist. He attended a Vatican sponsored seminar about exorcism in 2005, and Baglio's book followed an American Catholic priest from California, Father Gary Thomas, who came to learn about being an exorcist. Most of the action is strictly formulaic, but Oscar-winning actor Anthony Hopkins makes it worth watching. Although Hafstrom knows how to scare the shenanigans out of audiences, he focuses more on the question of good versus evil rather than the horror. "The Rite" not only takes itself seriously but it is committed to the belief that good and evil are part of mankind's existence. In other words, Håfström has helmed a horror chiller that puts its reverence for the Catholic Church ahead of its popcorn agenda. Anthony Hopkins is terrific as a Jesuit priest/physician who has spent a life-time contending with demonic forces.
Super Reviewer
½ April 16, 2011
Do we really need another movie about exorcism? I mean, there aren't that many ways in which these type of stories can be executed. And as expected, this one walks on the same well-worn road. In spite of all the familiar clichés, however, it had me very intrigued throughout its entire length. I can understand why so many critics have dismissed it as Hollywood trash, but on a sheer entertainment level, I really enjoyed it for what it was. Anthony Hopkins is supreme as only he can be, and his presence alone was enough for me to like it. Things do get a little bizarre and preposterous at times (especially towards the end), but if you can endure those misfires, it's a pretty captivating horror ride. Be well-aware though that I'm probably in the minority with my positive opinion.
Super Reviewer
April 15, 2011
three stars
Super Reviewer
½ January 28, 2011
The Rite is an odd film, at least in terms of how it's been marketed: on the one hand, it sets out to be a realistic look at the practice of exorcisms, complete with "based on true events" caption at the beginning. On the other, director Mikael Hafström (him of 1408 fame) and star Anthony Hopkins are better known for work that veers closer to straight-out horror, making The Rite look like some kind of pale imitation of The Exorcist (incidentally also based on a true story, according to writer William Peter Blatty). The result is a slightly schizophrenic picture that doesn't quite know in which genre to remain. It's also a consistent source of good fun, meaning it manages to remain perfectly watchable from start to finish.

The main concern of the film isn't horror, but faith. Specifically, it's all about one Michael Kovak (Colin O'Donoghue) trying to reconnect with his beliefs. Having studied to become a priest in an attempt to get away from the family business (his father, played by Rutger Hauer, is a mortician), he finds himself questioning that decision. The solution, according to Father Matthew (Toby Jones), is to attend an exorcism course in Rome (Pope John Paul II supposedly suggested every diocese should need an exorcist, and was said to have performed the rite personally in his younger years). The teacher, Father Xavier (Ciaran Hinds), recommends that Michael spend some time with a Welsh priest, Lucas Trevant (Hopkins), known among his peers for his unorthodox methods. And that's when things start getting interesting...

For about an hour, The Rite is every bit as serious about its subject matter as The Exorcism of Emily Rose. Sure, there's an ominous feel all the way through, with clever camera work, cinematography, editing and music, but the film really appears to be more about mood and thematic depth than jump-scares (although that area is covered with a predictable scene involving cats) and gross-out. The script even appears to be sending up audience expectations with a neat quip about The Exorcist, which simultaneously acknowledges the latter as an unreachable milestone.

However, at some point Hafström is expected to deliver the goods, if only for box office reasons, therefore ditching the attention to character that made Evil his masterwork and choosing to go for "proper" horror instead. Perhaps it was inevitable, as the presence of genre veterans Hopkins and Hauer (shamefully never in the same scene) seems to indicate, but that doesn't mean there isn't a correct way to do it. Toned-down, effective exorcism scenes fall under the appropriate category; an all-stops-pulled dream sequence that is essentially five minutes of pure WTF writing, is just plain wrong, and paves the way for a climax that, for all its entertainment value, is depressingly predictable.

Thank the silver screen gods, then, for Hopkins. The cast does an overall good job (although Alice Braga is stuck with a pointless role), but it's the former Hannibal Lecter who really carries the picture, knowing exactly when to unleash his OTT instincts and when to restrain himself, giving a performance so riotous and fun to watch it sort of makes up for the by-numbers third act. Whether he's taunting a demon in Italian or making fun of his Welsh roots (surely the movie's most ridiculously iconic moment), he's a pure joy to behold, and the main reason why The Rite doesn't fall apart in the conflict between serious filmmaking and pandering to audience tastes. Turns out it isn't really about faith at all - it's about the protagonist proving, once again, how ace he can be.
Super Reviewer
April 4, 2011
A very typical exorcism movie. Nothing new really brought to the genre that hasn't been done before. Anthony Hopkins was good(when isn't he?) and the rest of the cast for the most part did very good. "Rite's" biggest issue is that exorcism movies have been done so many times, and done well. This makes all the "shocking" scenes seem less effective as it's like a "been there, seen that" type of feeling. If you life exorcism/horror movies then you will probably enjoy this, just don't expect anything new to come out of it.
Super Reviewer
½ January 30, 2011
Cheap, cheap, cheap, cheap, cheap. The Rite does absolutely nothing that The Exorcist didn't do thirty-five years ago, and it's not even derivative in an interesting way. It's just a watery PG-13 horror flick with a lamebrained theological clash that's meant to send the audience home feeling all good about God and stuff. Anthony Hopkins glides through this, issuing no challenge to his natural gifts; you can almost see him grasping off-screen for the paycheck. Colin O'Donoghue occupies an interesting role, as a sexually attractive and rather worldly young priest, but fails to do anything of value with it. In many ways, the mishandling of this jaded character is The Rite's greatest failing, as there can be a great deal of tension generated in exploring the importance of the cynic within a religious narrative. Unfortunately, this film's interests lie in shabby jump scares, red-eyed donkeys in the snow, and pregnant girls coughing up nails. Really, it's all as ridiculous as it sounds, but its air of constant self-seriousness makes it really difficult to endear yourself to those bizarre traits.

If listening to Hopkins say things like "slut" and "kissy-lips" sounds frightening to you, then by all means, piss your ten bucks away. Otherwise, gird yourself for a by-the-numbers January horror flick, soullessly ground out by the studios for a quick buck during dry season.
Super Reviewer
February 25, 2011
If you're a jumpy kind of person, then you'll find a handful of jumpy moments if you watch it in the cinema. Characters were good, the acting was good, the mood of the film was good, but somehow the storyline was a little too predictable and became a little like every other exorcism film, I guess the difference being that this is supposed to be based on a true story.
Super Reviewer
January 27, 2011
It's always great seeing Anthony Hopkins delve into a role and have a blast doing so. When he has fun doing what he does best, I almost always have fun watching him. Unfortunately the film itself is just too unthrilling and achingly average to do his performance justice. See it for Hopkins, the solid supporting cast, and because there's not much else in theatres lately.
Super Reviewer
½ February 11, 2011
What begins as an indictment of superstition and one man's crisis-of-faith, gradually unspools before your eyes into a rehash of 'The Exorcist' along with bass voiceover, demonic contortions and verbal taunting. The first half is such a sumptuous feast of visual eeriness (ex. The water inundating into the eyes of a corpse is especially vivid) and thought-provocation (Hopkin's analogy of demons lurking in the shadows of the subconscious like a burglar during a robbery, is shrewd) that the overamped second half is a mess by comparison. The droll, poker-faced Hopkins is coerced into transforming back to his hammy Hannibal Lecter shtick in the final reel.
Super Reviewer
½ January 30, 2011
This movie is so slow and boring. Half way through, I didn't even try to stay awake anymore. Unless you're suffering from extreme insomnia, if you insist on seeing this in the theater, go to a matinee. You'll have to flush less money down the toilet that way. Just a pathetic offering.
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