I admit I don’t have the strongest faith. Sure I believe in God, but it pretty much ends at that like any other agnostic. So when I get a movie that is based on the idea of the Ten Plagues; let’s say I’m not that familiar with the subject matter. I know there are locusts attacking and toads dropping involved along with the whole river of blood thing but outside of that I’m a little thin. However, not to say I wasn’t interested. In fact I’m always intrigued by stories in the bible when they are used as methods of literature and peaks into the historical past.
The Reaping is the story of Katherine Winter (played by Hilary Swank), a LSU professor who has made a living off debunking miracles by explaining them away with science. We find out from her backstory that she was in fact an ordained minister who lost her faith when her husband and daughter were killed in Sudan on a mission. Her partner and fellow teacher, Ben (played by Idris Elba) helps her out. They are approached by Doug Blackwell (played by David Morrissey), a schoolteacher from Haven, LA about a new case. Haven, LA has seen a young 12-year old girl Loren (played by AnnaSophia Robb) murders her brother and turned the river to blood. The town also believes this is the start of the Ten Plagues of the Old Testament. Katherine & Ben go to investigate.
The Reaping title actually comes from the 7th plague. In the beginning of the story; Father Costigan (played by Stephen Rea) wakes to find that all of his pictures of Katherine are burned in such a way that it covers her face. These burns form the symbol that was used to define the Reaping. The movie is actually very solid. The effects will strike you first and foremost and it is a very visual movie. The acting is good but I would not consider it great. The main problem is that the movie feels like a pocket full of holes. Katherine’s faith while apparently gone shows up very quickly again once they get two or three plagues in. Ben’s faith was apparently already there but he makes a living off debunking miracles in general. So that is questionable. The town suffers from other double standards as well. The movie is a visual feast and the ending is an excellent twist but something is just missing. I don’t mean more locusts either.
The video is in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen (this is a flipper with the fullscreen on the opposite side). As explained before, this movie is a visual feast. The plethora of beautiful scenery in Louisiana and the plagues gone awry. Makes for a beautiful picture one would think. However, I found many scenes to be rather pale. The color is good but it seems a little washed out and not as crisp as one would hope. I understand that they might want to make it more realistic. But when toads are dropping quicker than the Rockies in the World Series, realism without richness shouldn’t be the first thing on your mind.
Audio is provided in 5.1 Dolby Digital for English, Spanish and French. Where video seems to falter just a step; audio blows us away. If you need further proof, listen to the locusts envelope the surrounding area and your speaker setup. Not only is the dialog clear and easy to understand, the effects use the surrounds so well that this could be used as a demo disc if the visual was more entertaining. Subtitles are also provided for English, French, Spanish and English SDH.
- Science of the Ten Plagues 15:59: A short but intriguing piece that goes into the myths and the facts of the ten plagues. They visit with various scientists like Terence Fretheim and R. Joseph Hoffman. I really would have liked to see more time spent on this.
- The Characters 6:59: A good old fashioned and very short fluff piece that shows the various characters of the movies and talks with some of them.
- A Place called Haven 5:02 : Another short piece that explores the locale of Haven, LA and how they turned into something that resembled the ten plagues. Also talks about how their shooting happened to be around the time Hurricane Katrina hit.
- The Reaping: The Seventh Plague 1:07 : A very quick extra that goes more into the effects of the locusts scene. Don’t ever put a live (or dead) locust in your mouth. A helpful hint.
- Bonus Trailers: Michael Clayton, Gametap.com, I am Legend, Believers, & Return to House on Haunted Hill
Traditionally I like movies that play with religious undertones. (But I stay away from the heavy ones, this means you Mel Gibson!) The Reaping is a nice popcorn flic as long as you don’t try to examine the plot too closely. The acting is solid but the characters’ feel paper thin. I especially enjoyed the work of the male leads and felt that Swank’s performance was adequate for the role. The dvd can be from time to time troubling. The video is solid and the audio is downright amazing. But the extras are some of the shortest piece of toad pie I have ever seen (translation: duds!). It seems that while there was attention paid to the movie, what they got in the end was a rushed dvd. Almost to say, we will double dip later with commentary and deleted scenes. Or perhaps not. A slight recommendation if nothing more than to see what happens when the ten plagues take hold of a small Louisiana town.
- DVDVerdict.com – Bill Gibron thinks that star Hilary Swank anti-water-into win work is played like The Da Vinci Code gone cracker
- RopeofSilicon.com – Sarah Michelle Fetters thinks The Reaping is a plague of its own.
- The-Trades.com: R.J. Carter writes The Reaping” is an underrated horror flick for audiences who appreciate smart writing.