Get out your otherworldly weaponry and fake IDs, we're reviewing R.I.P.D.!
|What? White paper? Where did that come from?|
I think I wanted to like this more than I actually ended up liking this. Don't get me wrong, it's still a lot of fun, but it's not a very good movie, and may not be worth your time. It's got style and charm, but not a lot of substance.
There's no hiding the fact that it has a pretty cool style. The action scenes are filmed quite well, reminding me almost of Edgar Right's quick cuts and crazy camera movements. The shootouts are loads of fun and pretty exciting to watch, but there aren’t nearly enough of them. And the 3D works surprisingly well, too! There is lots of stuff coming at you, and the world feels like it exists in layers, as proper 3D should feel. In fact, it feels like the 3D was crafted better than the story and graphics combined, which – dammit movie studios, get your priorities straight! I'd say the 3D is worth it, but the movie might not be.
The computer graphics are ugly as hell, and not in a good way. It looks like they're using 5-year-old tech, or someone forgot to enable some of the rendering settings. The animation isn't really well done, either. The movements are uninspired and the lip syncing feels consistently off. They are not fun to look at, so thankfully that’s not too big a deal, as the camera doesn't linger on them for too long. But when it does, oof! I wish the designs were at least halfway decent, but it's just regular humans that aren't quite right. They have a moderately cool idea of humans changing to ironically suit their death or their greatest sin in life, but they don't really take that idea to its fullest potential. One guy is really fat, another has a big mouth, another has a bunch of hands… I really wanted them to push the designs further.
RIPD's story is as derivative and cliché as every other buddy-cop action movie it pulls from. It feels a lot like Men in Black, but without the larger universe or overarching message. (In fact, I wish it would have pulled a little more from Men in Black – like the network of people who cover stuff up? What, do they just let everyone see monsters when they screw up? Are they going to do anything about a city full of people who basically witnessed an apocalypse? No? Ok) Watching the movie is like playing cliché bingo. I had Partner That Stabs You In The Back, New Partners That Hate Each Other Then Learn to Like Each Other, Good Guys That Are Terrible At Their Jobs But Win Anyway, Bad Guy Who Wanted To Be Captured All Along, and finally snagged a bingo at Token Damsel In Distress. Ugh. Even with all that, there's still not much to the plot. Nick barely comes into his own before they have to stop the big bad. If this had more action scenes, instead of exposition and learning the new world, it would have been leagues more entertaining.
Jeff Bridges is clearly having the most fun with his part. Kevin Bacon has a fair amount of fun, too, and Mary Louise-Parker does what she can in her role. But Jeff Bridges will be the reason you don't walk out of this movie. I don't know if it's because Reynolds didn't have a lot to work with, or maybe that he just didn't care enough about this part, or perhaps that he's still sad about Green Lantern, or if maybe he was pulled in too many directions due to his involvement with Turbo, too… Whatever the case, he didn't bring his A-game. If this had been Blade 2 Ryan Reynolds or even X-Men Origins: Wolverine's Deadpool Ryan Reynolds, he'd be cracking wise with Bridges, and for that half of the movie they’d be arguing incessantly. That would have been fun. But mostly he just stares into space looking confused, as if he's contemplating his career and what brought him to this. It's like the director went, "Think about death and get sad and stuff," and he did exactly that, for the whole movie.
I think it's a pretty interesting world, and I'll admit, I’m tempted to check out the comic. But we barely get a glimpse of it. All they do is explain to us how it works. There's a shot of a bunch of old policemen from every kind of era working around an office, but we don't get to have fun with any of them. If they added more characters and spread out the world it would have done some good. It doesn't have that diverse a cast, either. The only major non-white role is the old Chinese guy Ryan Reynolds looks like, and he doesn't even stay through the whole movie. That, coupled with the really glaring Damsel in Distress trope, does not make it all that progressive a movie. There are some good cracks with Jeff Bridges pretending to be a sexy lady, though. But honestly – though this may be carried over from the comic – wouldn't an obscenely sexy lady make you stand out more when the whole point is trying to be anonymous?
This is tough, because I did enjoy this film. I had fun, and I really wanted to like it. There are some parts that really shine, and there’s an interesting world waiting to get some depth. This could have been the next Men in Black if they had made the story a little more original, put in some more gunfights, and poked Reynolds with a stick. But as it stands, it feels more like the next Jonah Hex. (Oh you tried to forget that existed, didn't you?) It's still fun, sure, but it's not more fun than Pacific Rim. It's annoying that we live in an industry in which films have to compete for your money in order to stay afloat. But there it is.
THE GOOD: Jeff Bridges is funny, action scenes are great, Kevin Bacon, interesting world, 3D is really good.
THE BAD: Story is derivative and cliché, graphics and animation are bad, not a diverse cast, not much of a story, Ryan Reynolds looks lost for 75% of the film
THE VERDICT: $$$ Y'know, I enjoyed it, I had fun, and the 3D is really good. I want to say go see it, but it's not amazing. It's not Pacific Rim. If you're going to see one action film this summer, go see Pacific Rim. If you get to see two, see Pacific Rim twice. But hey, maybe rent this one? Because it's still pretty fun.
MOVIES LIKE IT: Men in Black, Cop Out, Starsky and Hutch, The Other Guys, Hellboy, Dead Like Me
ONE-SCENE METAPHOR: Before the movie started, I said to myself, "I bet it starts out with extraneous narration from Ryan Reynolds." And it did! And it sticks out as more and more unnecessary, as Reynolds never narrates again for the entire movie. Why did they even need it? To fill out their bingo card? It even starts with an action scene in the middle of the movie, as if saying, "No, no; there's good stuff coming! Don't leave!" before going into the extremely slow beginning. Maybe next time just start with the action in the first place?