Friday, December 19, 2014

R.I.P.D. (2013)

I usually have a pretty good sense of when I want to see a movie.  When I first heard of R.I.P.D., it looked like an interesting premise.  A Boston police officer dies and, rather than be sent to Hell, is given a chance to police the afterlife.  When someone dies, they’re normally sucked into this huge vortex.  It was designed when Earth’s population was much smaller.  In 2014, people manage to slip through the cracks.  Nick is partnered up with Roy, who’s been doing this since the Civil War.

It’s pretty easy to find someone who hasn’t crossed over.  Just look for death and decay.  Anything like a cellular dead zone indicates that a possible ‘deado’ is nearby.  It isn’t long before Nick and Roy uncover a rather nasty plot to bring back the dead.  As if that weren’t enough, one of the recently deceased has transformed and is wreaking havoc on the greater Boston area.

This ended up being one of the few times that I was kind of disappointed.  The movie was apparently based on a series of comics.  This usually means that many of the background details have been worked out.  Even a relatively short run should give you enough for a decent two-hour movie.  Instead, it goes through the motions.  It seemed more like a pilot for a TV show.  We get to see Nick’s moment of death.  We get to see the Rest In Peace Department’s office.  We get to see the two detectives try to do their jobs.  Given how serious the situation was supposed to be, I didn’t get the sense that they were taking it all that seriously.

If you’ve seen other similar shows, such as Dead Like Me, you can guess that Nick and Roy don’t appear as themselves to normal humans.  Nick is played by Ryan Reynolds, but appears to be James Hong to the living.  Roy is played by Jeff Bridges.  When a living person approaches him, they see Marissa Miller.  This means that we get to see some guy try to flirt with Jeff Bridges a few times.  Each time, he has to play the part of an uninterested woman.

Also, we get a few undead/afterlife jokes.  When R.I.P.D. officers go bad, they have to deal with Eternal Affairs.  There’s also a scene where Nick goes to his own funeral, only to be kicked out when no one recognizes him.  I should also warn you that Roy likes to talk about his own death, where coyotes and vultures had their way with his corpse.  This is not something that small children will necessarily enjoy.

Nick is supposed to be the new guy.  Even though he was a police officer in life, he has things to learn about the afterlife.  This lets him be a stand-in for the audience, yet be good enough to do his job.  Still, it doesn’t quite work.  Like I said, the movie comes across as too simple.  We don’t get to see much of the afterlife.  We don’t get to actually see Heaven or Hell.  There’s no commentary on who or what actually awaits you.  (Nick’s new boss makes reference to him being pulled down, despite his being a relatively good person.)

Also, curry is used as a test for deados.  I’m not sure what the significance is.  I’m sure this is something that’s explained in the comics.  When Nick and Roy approach someone they suspect as being dead, they have to ask a series of questions about how the suspect would handle a series of similar situations.  If I understood, the person becomes a caricature of their sins when exposed to curry.  One such person becomes rather large with a grotesquely deformed mouth.  He’s referred to as Fat Elvis throughout the rest of the movie.

There are also scenes where Jeff Bridges tries to hard.  I won’t say overacting, but his performance does come across as a bit strong.  I don’t know what the director was trying to pull off there.  It wasn’t to the point where I couldn’t stand it, but it did get to be a little annoying at times.

This is one of those situations where I’m glad I was able to get the movie for free.  (I was able to rent it through Redbox from a code I won on Listia.)  The plot is interesting, but I think it could have been handled better.  If this had been a pilot episode, certain aspects could have been pushed back to later in the series.  Nick left a widow, who you know will eventually find out the truth.  Nick is killed by his partner, which involves at least some foreshadowing.  These are things that might be left as ambiguous in a movie.  Instead, it seemed kind of forced.

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