Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Film Review: R.I.P.D. (2013)

Director: Robert Schwentke
Screenplay: Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi
Stars: Ryan Reynolds, Jeff Bridges, Mary-Louise Parker and Kevin Bacon

At only 30 seconds in to R.I.P.D. it is all too clear Universal Studios didn’t put any effort into making this $130 million summer picture as a woeful CGI monster appears on the screen and the film only gets worse from there on. In light of this, I won’t be spending much time on this review and will be giving the film the minimum amount of respect, just like the film gave its audience.

The film plays out less like a remake of the Men In Black series but rather a pilot episode for a TV spin-off which is destined never to get picked up, but with CGI you’d expect from a mid-budget film from the late 1990s. The film has scenes and effects which are clearly not fully rendered which only add to the misery unfolding on screen, all of which makes little sense and is never compelling.

The plot of dead police officers working on Earth could have had some creativity for a decent spectacle, but the film never tries to be anything other than the Men In Black rip-off it so clearly is and is dead on arrival before the plot even kicks in and even dares to put Earth in peril on the hour mark because up until this point precisely nothing has been accomplished. I say ‘dare’ because the film has come nowhere near earning this new story, and exists solely to have a CGI climax which may look good in trailers (which it didn’t). It also features one of the worst action set pieces I have seen from a big budget production but by this point, around the 45 minute mark, all hope was lost and the awfulness of it all just washed over me. The direction in general is some of the worst I’ve seen since I made the mistake of seeing Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter but perhaps this is even worse as every shot feels like a crash zoom or whip pan, which is the sign of a director with no control or authority on his material.

Jeff Bridges gives a career-low performance as a cowboy law enforcer who sounds like True Grit’s Rooster Coburn with a stroke, and Ryan Reynolds is the definition of bland; pair these two together and you have one sad, lifeless buddy cop team who are leading the film. Only Mary-Louise Parker gives a halfway decent showing but she looks like she knows the film is derailing with every take.

The only decent idea in the film is that the two lead detectives are seen by the living as a short Chinese man and a stunning blonde supermodel, however the visual gags so rarely work when they should have been ‘easy wins’ to get a laugh. In one scene the model strikes a sexy pose in a clinging dress, which then cuts to Jeff Bridges in the same pose in his suit and is a genuinely funny scene, but the film mostly falls back on gags of men approaching her whilst Barry White’s ‘Let’s Get It On’ inexplicably plays. It’s pretty terrible stuff for a family film.

Stop thinking for yourself verdict: R.I.P.D. gets half a star simply because it’s not offensive and has one nice idea, which doesn’t always pay off. Other than this, the film fails on every single level and is nothing short of an unmitigated disaster.

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