**/**** Image A Sound A+ Extras D
starring Anthony Hopkins, Colin O'Donoghue, Alice Braga, Rutger Hauer
screenplay by Michael Petroni, suggested by the book by Matt Baglio
directed by Mikael Håfström
by Walter Chaw Though it's not particularly surprising that The Rite isn't scary or innovative, it is a bit of a surprise that The Rite doesn't completely suck. It's not good, but there's some ambition in its tale of a tortured seminarian. Michael (Colin O'Donoghue) is dealing with his odd childhood at the knee of his dad, a widower and overzealous mortician (Rutger Hauer), as well as a crisis of faith handily addressed by the traumatic, traffic-related death of an innocent whom God, the picture suggests, throws in front of a truck to get Michael to reconsider leaving the priesthood. In the same stroke, God cripples Michael's mentor, Father Matthew (Toby Jones), leading one to revisit Arthur C. Clarke's "The Star" for a dose of non-Scriptural skepticism and rage if one were so inclined. No matter, as Michael, because of his lack of squeamishness, is packed off to The Vatican to attend a modern exorcism school. Which is also something of a surprise, I guess--that said exorcism school really exists and is alive and well, well into the 21st century. Although that surprise is ameliorated a little by the fact that Catholicism also still believes in a literal transubstantiation of the host. Small wonder that Catholicism is my favourite Christian sect.