Friday, October 19, 2012

A Drug Trip Goes Very Wrong in Rites of Passage: A Movie Review (Blu-ray)

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*full disclosure: a Blu-ray copy of this film was provided by Magnet Releasing for review.

Director: W. Peter Iliff.

Writers: Rick Halsey and W. Peter Iliff.

Cast: Wes Bentley, Kate Maberly, Ryan Donowho, Christian Slater, Stephen Dorff, Briana Evigan, Travis Van Winkle, Carly Schroeder, Ashley Hinshaw and Guy Burnet.

A rite of passage is often a transition from adolescence into adulthood. The Jewish people celebrate this transition of a boy into puberty with a Bat Mitzvah. Mozoltov! In W. Peter Iliff's (Point Break) Rites of Passage, there is very little ceremony or celebration. Instead, there is fractured storyline, weak acting and a film that seems to spin its tires, rather than moving forward. This title released October 16th through home video formats and this review is your friendly warning to stay away from this title.

To elaborate more on rites of passage, these rituals usually brought initiates into groups more fully. African tribes and Native American ones would use specific ceremonies to incorporate younger members into their group. These ceremonies would also announce a girl or boy's transition into adulthood and availability for marriage. Very little of these ceremonies are seen in Rites of Passage. The title for the film is more of a misnomer.

The story for Rites of Passage breaks down into a series of sub-plots. There is no central story here. That list of sublplots is long: the psychopath Delgado (Christian Slater) is cooking gak aka meth' after losing his wife and son in an automobile accident, a teacher (Stephen Dorff) is using his power and authority to seduce younger students, the protagonist (Ryan Donowho) wants to become a man, a girl (Kate Maberly) is troubled by a drunken accident involving the aforementioned wife and son, and the list goes on and on. All of these subplots and a lack of a central story create for a divergent storyline. The characters are all going in different directions. Therefore, the camera has to change from short story to short story with very little being covered adequately. This film's story is weakly structured and the writing is the crux of the film, overall.

Without a solid story, it then becomes difficult to feel empathy for characters. They act illogically and they come across as shallow. For instance, the character Sandee (Ashley Hinshaw) is shacking up with Professor Nash. On a weekend trip, she meets a man who pays to watch her strip through a pay-for-sex-cam' website. She then leaves Nash instantly to be with this man she has never met in person, without an explanation. This is strange. Another girl jumps in a vehicle with the character Benny (Wes Bentley). Benny is admittedly very high on Jimson Weed. This psychopathic character also sees Penelope (Briana Evigan) as his Chumash (Californian Native American) bride through a drug trip. This is also strange and illogical. Why would a character take a ride from another who can barely open his eyes? It soon becomes clear that much of the writing for this feature was written under the spell of some hallucinogenic drug, because nothing gels together.

Rites of Passage is not recommended for a number of reasons. The film is amateurish. Although, production values look decent, this title bounces around all over the place. The cast has to work with weak material. Therefore, characters are mostly unlikable. The ending is laughable and only a talking puppet creates for any, much needed humour.

This title is a weak production overall. Cinephiles, who value their time, are strongly encouraged to avoid this film. There just is not enough quality here to create for a satisfying time. Perhaps the filmmakers expected the viewers to be consuming Jimson Weed as well. Because a hallucinogenic trip might have helped make Rites of Passage more coherent and a whole lot more forgettable.

Overall: 5.5 (characters are all over the place, there are a couple of protagonists and a couple of antagonists, take your pick, there is no central story to this production, dismal).

*special features include a trailer and a "making-of" featurette.

Another accurate review of this film is available at Super Marcey:

Rites of Passage Reviewed at Super Marcey

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