Late again, I know. Look out for a good ol' roundup soon, but for now, here's another disappointing effects movie.
Also at Channel 24.
After being murdered by his partner, a
dirty cop gets a second chance to make amends and take revenge as he
joins the Rest In Peace Department, a post-mortem law enforcement
agency tasked with stopping the dead from wreaking havoc on the
What we thought
R.I.P.D, the 674th
comic book movie to be released this year, looks, at the outset, to
have plenty going for it. It has a good director, a cast that ranges
from solid (Ryan Reynolds) to excellent (Jeff Bridges, Mary-Louise
Parker) and a really neat high-concept premise. Unfortunately, though
it's nowhere near the turkey that most critics have deemed it to be,
it squanders most of its promise, even as it constantly hints towards
better movies and its own underlying potential.
It's especially irritating that the
film could so easily be better because its major failures are very
easily identifiable as coming from two rather crucial areas: it's
effects and its money.
In terms of the former, RIPD relies
almost entirely on CGI, but it looks like the kind of CGI that one
would normally find in a very cheap video game or in a movie from
when the technology was still in its infancy. The action scenes have
no sense of physicality whatsoever and the undead creatures are
entirely lacking in physical presence or believability. CG characters
are often problematic but we haven't seen CGI creations this shoddy
since at least the terrible digi-zombies of I Am Legend. Regardless
of the films other problems, it would have been a hundred times
better had they relied on good prosthetic and make up work and on
Now, considering how bad the effects
are, one can assume that RIPD didn't exactly have a mega-budget, but
it had just enough money thrown at it to completely and utterly
undermine everything that could have and should have worked about the
film. It has a premise that would be a perfect fit for the quirky,
indie aesthetic of Scott Pilgrim or Kick Ass but someone clearly
wanted the film to go head to head with the bigger comic book movies,
which is why we get stupid CGI creatures when we should have
Evil-Dead-like zombies and an inane plot about protecting the world
from a supervillain who wants to destroy it, when we really should be
getting something far smaller and more intimate.
RIPD has, in its very DNA, echoes of
Men in Black, Ghostbusters and Dead Like Me (remember that show?) but
it has every last inch of originality squeezed out of it by the
absurdly stupid desire to turn something that could have been fun and
weird and small scale into yet another overblown, yet underdeveloped
blockbuster. I haven't read the Dark Horse comic book but it's hard
to believe that it was anywhere near this generic.
All of this though, becomes especially
dispiriting when you realise how much of the little details in the
film itself are already alive and present and are suffocated by a
film that doesn't deserve them. This is most notable every time that
Mary Louise Parker shows up on screen as this deadpan, gloriously
strange boss/liaison type figure and her first meeting with our
recently dead hero is one of the film's few real highlights.
There's also, of course, the ever-cool
Jeff Bridges as a long-deceased wild west sheriff who is partnered
with Reynold's modern day cop and, while you get the sense that it's
the off kilter nature of the team up that's supposed to be the source
of most of the film's laughs, most of the comedy burden does land on
Bridges and, to be fair, even if he is just playing a whackier
version of his True Grit character, he is solidly funny.
RIPD isn't quite the disaster that so
many have painted it as and its smaller pleasures means it's probably
worth checking out on TV when you don't have anything else going on,
but with so much going for it, it really sucks to see just how
quickly its promise was eaten up by an indulgent budget and a lack of
any real personality.