Tuesday, July 30

R.I.P.D. Review

Dir: Robert Schwentke
Starring: Jeff Bridges, Ryan Reynolds, and Kevin Bacon

Summer popcorn films offer the quality of enjoyable escapism, 90 minutes of getting lost in a not-too-serious film with a modicum of expectation. Though that may be the sentiment R.I.P.D. was aiming for regrettably, besides a few laughs, the enjoyment is short lived as the film attempts to be the haunted version of Men in Black but ends up being a confusing mess of ideas.

Nick Walker (Ryan Reynolds) is a Boston police officer that finds himself on the wrong end of a gun. Nick dies but his journey to heaven is thwarted as he is hurled into the offices of the Rest In Peace Department and given the opportunity to seek and destroy the dead still meandering amongst the living. Nick is joined by his resistant partner Roy Pulsifer (Jeff Bridges), a 19th century lawman with a penchant for being quick on the trigger. The two quickly uncover a plan that threatens the balance established by heaven and must band together to stop it.

The film is based off the Dark Horse comic created by Peter M. Lenkov. The story displays a promising premise, a supernatural twist on the buddy cop comedy, though the execution from the very beginning of this film is rushed. The characters are introduced point blankly, to the extent that it’s hard to care about any of them when they are put in dangers path. The narrative is filled with forced comedy such as the sight gag of Roy and Nick’s earthly personas, a hot woman and an old Chinese man, which is overused quickly after an initial laugh.

Ryan Reynolds is a skilled actor; his performance in the Rodrigo Cortes film Buried being a particular standout. Unfortunately in this film Reynolds isn’t given the opportunity to develop the character. Instead he is tasked with minimal amounts of emotional content that are plugged into the story to heighten the romantic aspects with his wife (Stephanie Szostak). Jeff Bridges is always interesting to watch, and for a moment it’s amusing to see him play an over-exaggerated, comic version of his True Grit character Rooster Cogburn. But even the talents of Mr. Bridges aren’t enough to battle the onslaught of poorly composed CGI monsters amidst a troublesome narrative.

There are some interesting and promising elements in the early part of R.I.P.D. that is overshadowed by the emphasis on the surface concept instead of the important aspect of continuing development. While the film attempts to create a popcorn film suited for mass appeal, it might have found firmer footing by focusing the design and narrative on the comic book/horror demographic. Instead, R.I.P.D. can be filed into the familiar category that more comic book adaptations are falling into, the section labeled missed opportunity.

Monte’s Rating
1.75 out of 5.00

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