Title: R.I.P.D. (2013)
Director: Robert Schwentke
Cast: Jeff Bridges, Ryan Reynolds, Kevin Bacon, Mary-Louise Parker, James Hong
I’m sure that as a concept the idea for R.I.P.D. must have sounded good to the people behind this film. I mean, dead cops fighting ghosts and monsters? Sounds cool alright, I mean, with the right crew behind the film, this thing could have been like a mix between Ghostbusters and Men In Black. Unfortunately, judging by the resulting film, the crew behind R.I.P.D. weren’t really interested in making a decent picture. So what we’re talking about here is the first true turkey of the Summer 2013 season. Yeah, yeah, I know what you’re saying, wasn’t The Lone Ranger (2013) the biggest flop of the summer? And you’d be right, The Lone Ranger did lose a lot of money, but at least it didn’t fail because it was a bad film, it failed because it was about cowboys, and kids don’t give a crap about cowboys nowadays. If you ask me, The Lone Ranger is actually a good western that got ignored by audiences because it was bad mouthed even before it was released. I hate it when that happens! But back to R.I.P.D., now here’s a dud that failed because simply put, it’s wasn’t a good film at all, it’s just so average. And this comes from a fan of sci-fi and horror! Where did R.I.P.D. go wrong?
In R.I.P.D. we are presented with Nick, a police officer who bites the bullet in the first five minutes of the film. When he goes to the afterlife, he learns that when police officers die they immediately join an undead police force called R.I.P.D. which stands for Rest in Peace Department, get it? So anyhow, Nick is assigned to work with Roy (Jeff Bridges) who in accordance to buddy cop movie rule #579 immediately hates his new partner. Jesus, when will they ever break with these silly cliché’s in buddy cop movies? Don’t they realize they are making the same damn movie for the millionth time? So anyway Nick and Roy partner up to find some undead dude who wants to destroy the tunnel that people take to go to heaven? Will they manage to stop him before the undead roam the earth?
The concept of undead cops fighting ghost and goblins is a good one, unfortunately the movie these guys made isn’t. Okay, think of the possibilities of cops fighting ghosts? It just sounds cool don’t it? Unfortunately Robert Schwentke, the director behind this film and the writers Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi decided to focus all their strengths into making their own version of a MIB movie but with ghosts instead of aliens, as a result the concept immediately looses any possibility of novelty. You feel you’ve been there and done that, but without Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones and without Rick Baker doing the cool make up effects. What you get though is wisecracking Ryan Reynolds playing the rookie cop and Jeff Bridges playing a grouchy cowboy, similar to the one he played in the Coen Bros. film True Grit (2010). I mean, this is such a rip off of Men in Black that you can literally take any character from R.I.P.D. and find its counterpart in Men In Black. R.I.P.D. is a Xerox copy with zero originality, and you can put that on your dvd cover if you want, free of charge.
On top of all that, the movie is kind of afraid to embrace the kind of film it’s supposed to be, which is an ailment that many films dealing with horror elements are suffering from in todays modern cinematic landscape. I mean, with very few exceptions, like Fede Alvarez’s Evil Dead (2013), truly horrifying films have been disappearing from cinemas. And so what we get are these watered down versions of horror, which is just sad. Do you think the folks behind Dead Heat (1988), the movie about two cops who become zombies, were afraid of the fact that they were making a zombie film? Hell no! They made a damn good zombie/buddy cop movie! And they made no apologies about it! With R.I.P.D., we’re talking about a film that deals with the supernatural, the undead, about ghosts, it’s common sense that the film needed to be spookier, scarier, we’re dealing with freaking ghosts here man! It would have been a good idea to mix the comedy with the horror. The way Ghostbusters (1984) or Beetlejuice (1989) did? Instead, the movie is so squeaky clean it doesn’t feel like a movie about ghosts, it doesn’t even feel like a movie about the supernatural. Hell, even the ghosts don’t look like ghosts! And here’s where the film really failed for me. Every single one of its creatures where terrible computer generated images, I mean, just atrocious! And that’s one thing that they didn’t manage to duplicate from the MIB films, the excellent make up and visual effects. I mean in Men In Black 3 (2012) for example, the visual and make up effects were top notch! The movie might have been simple as hell, but the effects were entertaining an extremely well achieved. On R.I.P.D. they failed to deliver good effects, the character designs where just banal. The one thing that matters the most in a movie of this kind -the monsters- where not handled well at all and that my friends is what brought this movie down to the ground.
Is there anything good to say about R.I.P.D.? Well, the one saving grace the film has is Bridges and Reynolds keeping things fun with their banter. But then again, it’s nothing you haven’t seen before in thousands of other buddy cop films. The older cop hates his new partner, you know how that goes, they have to learn to appreciate each other for who they are and so forth. There’s a couple of funny ideas squeezed in there, like the fact that the undead has to get into a bathroom and flush the toilet to go to the real world, or the fact that Ryan Reynolds looks like James Hong to humans, and Bridges looks like a super hot model, which creates some funny moments, but you kind of feel they could have milked that premise a bit more. Well, over all, that’s it my friends. R.I.P.D. is a missed opportunity, a film based on a comic book with a nifty premise that unfortunately spawned a very derivative film. You might have some goofy fun with this one, but I say wait for it on dvd and even then, don’t expect too much. Afterwards, you’ll feel like the MIB used their brain washing machine on ya.
Rating: 2 ½ out of 5