Synopsis: Veteran sheriff Roy Pulsifer (Bridges) has spent his career with the legendary police force known as R.I.P.D. tracking monstrous spirits who are cleverly disguised as ordinary people. His mission? To arrest and bring to justice a special brand of criminals trying to escape final judgment by hiding among the unsuspecting on Earth. Once the wise-cracking Roy is assigned former rising-star detective Nick Walker (Reynolds) as his junior officer, the new partners have to turn grudging respect into top-notch teamwork. When they uncover a plot that could end life as we know it, two of R.I.P.D.’s finest must miraculously restore the cosmic balance…or watch the tunnel to the afterlife begin sending angry souls the very wrong way.
Release Date: July 19, 2013 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Genre(s): Action, Comedy
It seems like comic books are the hot properties these days. Hollywood is just coming off a year where The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises each ruled the box office. Kick-Ass and Sin City are both getting sequels later this year. “The Walking Dead” is one of the most popular shows on television. Just when it seemed that comic books could do no wrong in crossing over to other mediums, R.I.P.D. comes along to mess it all up.
R.I.P.D. stars Ryan Reynolds (Green Lantern) as Nick Walker, a Boston police officer who, along with his partner, Hayes (the inimitable Kevin Bacon from everything, but most recently seen in “The Following”), has stumbled upon a stash of gold chunks while doing a drug bust. Because there is no record of the gold in the police report, the partners have agreed to keep it…that is, until Nick has second thoughts and tells Hayes that he is going to turn his half in. On their next drug raid, Hayes “accidentally” shoots Nick dead, and Nick goes to heaven where he is assigned to the Rest In Peace Department, or R.I.P.D., a group consisting of the ghosts of the finest law enforcement officials to ever live. Nick is given a new partner, an old west sheriff named Roy Pulsipher (TRON‘s Jeff Bridges), and the two are tasked with tracking down “Deadoes,” undead spirits who refuse to pass on and leave Earth. On their first interview together with a Deado, Nick finds a bunch of gold chunks like the ones that he and Hayes had found. After consulting a Deado informant and trailing him, Nick and Roy find that the gold trail leads right back to Hayes. Nick and Roy have to figure out the story behind the gold and how Nick’s old partner is involved, all without getting in trouble with their superiors in the R.I.P.D.
Based on the Dark Horse comic “Rest In Peace Department” by Peter M. Lenkov (who moonlights as a writer for “Hawaii Five-O”), the screenplay for R.I.P.D. was written by Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi (the team behind Clash of the Titans and AEon Flux) with story assistance from David Dobkin (Jack the Giant Slayer). Director Robert Schwentke (Red, The Time Traveler’s Wife) doesn’t quite seem to know what to do with R.I.P.D. The film is very schizophrenic. It tries to come off as a comedy, but it isn’t very funny. It has ghosts and undead zombie-like creatures, but isn’t a horror film. It’s got lots of explosions and gunfights, but there’s too much down time between events for it to be a blockbuster. What’s left is a weird buddy film that just begs to be compared to Men In Black…and that’s a comparison that R.I.P.D. doesn’t want, because it doesn’t really compare at all.
Predictably, R.I.P.D. is a very visual film. There are a few really cool action sequences that are fun to watch, but they’re all eye candy. The film doesnât fully commit to being an action film, and there are obvious attempts to connect emotionally with the audience, first between Nick and his wife and later between Nick and Roy, that fail miserably. Jeff Bridges carries the film as Roy, and Kevin Bacon has his moments as a villain, but the rest of the cast is wooden and stale, eliciting no empathy from the viewer. In the end, R.I.P.D. is just a whole lot of going through the motions.
The visual effects in R.I.P.D. are suitably impressive, and they aren’t blindingly overused. R.I.P.D. is full of computer generated effects, and they are, for the most part, well done. The most interesting scene is towards the beginning of the film when Nick is killed; he wanders around the carnage of the riot in which he died, staring in wonder at all of the activity, which is now frozen. He then ascends upwards to the sky and is sucked into the clouds and transported to heaven. The whole sequence is both chaotic and dreamlike, and the skillful compositing of the scene allows the audience to get taken away with Nick. Other fun visuals include the scenes when the Deadoes change from their faux-human look to their undead form. The effect is nothing groundbreaking; it’s a transformation that audiences have seen a million times. However, it’s slick enough to be entertaining instead of distracting, even if it is obvious CG. R.I.P.D. is offered to audiences in 2D and 3D, and the 3D option is tastefully done; it’s not gimmicky or invasive, but a bit more than subtle texture. It adds a lot of cool perspective and, for viewers who are into the technology, the 3D is worth the extra trouble and expense.
As a comedy, R.I.P.D. is a disappointment. The script doesn’t have a whole lot of humor in it and, with the exception of Jeff Bridges, none of the actors have a lot of comedic appeal. Not surprisingly, the tiny bit of humor that is in the film is completely visual. The funniest moments are provided by the bodies that Nick and Roy appear as – an old Chinese man (voice actor James Hong) and a hot young woman (supermodel Marisa Miller), respectively – and when they are shown doing the things that Nick and Roy are supposed to be doing. If the unexpected dichotomy of, say, Marisa Miller swinging from a rope smacking into buildings or James Hong holding a banana as a gun on a Deadoe is what passes for humor, then R.I.P.D. has comedic elements. Other than that, there’s not much comedy in the film, so take it or leave it.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): Robert Schwentke
- Screenwriter(s): Phil HayMatt Manfredi
- Cast: Jeff Bridges (Roy)Ryan Reynolds (Nick)Kevin Bacon (Hayes) Mary-Louise Parker (Proctor)Stephanie Szostak (Julia)James Hong (Nick’s Avatar)
- Editor(s): Mark Helfrich
- Cinematographer: Alwin H. Kuchler
- Production Designer(s):
- Costume Designer:
- Casting Director(s):
- Music Score: Christophe Beck
- Music Performed By:
- Country Of Origin: USA