Mania Review: RIPD - Mania.com



Mania Review

Mania Grade: D

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Info:

  • Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Jeff Bridges, Mary-Louise Parker, Kevin Bacon, Stephanie Szostak, James Hong and Marisa Miller
  • Written by: Phil Hay, Matt Manfredi and David Dobkin
  • Directed by: Robert Schwentke
  • Studio: Universal Pictures
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Run Time: 96 minutes
  • Series:

Mania Review: RIPD

Dying is easy. Comedy is hard.

By Rob Vaux     July 19, 2013
Source: Mania.com

 Any and all thought involved in RIPD ended with the title, a vaguely clever concept that someone parleyed into a Dark Horse comic somewhere along the line. Universal snapped it up with the intention of… well frankly, of knocking out a derivative Men in Black clone in hopes of sneaking a few bucks from the unwary. Early buzz has been truly awful, which may help explain why the studio delayed its press screening until the last possible moment. They should have tried harder to keep us away.

Movies of this ilk hide behind the premise of unpretentious entertainment. But even the fluffiest popcorn fun needs an invested voice behind it all. We need a story with some energy in it, characters who we want to follow, or an idea that we could really dig. None of that entered into the filmmakers’ heads at any single point here. Instead, they hastily redress the MIB concept to involve ghosts instead of aliens, then set it loose with some middling effects and a slumming pair of stars to convince us that it won’t be so bad.

The basic concept is this: sometimes, the souls of the dead slip back to Earth and hide among us mortals, unwilling to face their final judgment. The RIPD exists to hunt them down and send them on: a collection deceased cops armed with magic ghost-killing guns to bring down their prey. We’re introduced to the whole shebang through the eyes of Nick Walker (Ryan Reynolds), a bent but decent Boston cop assigned to the squad as a way of paying off his sins. He’s issued a standard crotchety old coot as a partner, former Western lawman Roy Pulsifer (Jeff Bridges) who heads back to the streets to show him the ropes.

The storyline pops out the clichés with a regularity you can set you watch by. Set-up, exposition, unexpected twist, more exposition, big climax, the end. Its predictability would be forgivable if it honestly gave a shit about engaging us, but rarely has the phrase “going through the motions” felt more fitting. Bridges seems to be enjoying himself, but mostly because the role lets him deliver a third-tier curtain call for his Rooster Cogburn routine. The rest of the cast – including Kevin Bacon and Mary-Louise Parker as the boys’ tart boss – likely signed up to work with him. At no point do they show any signs of humanity, any engagement in the scenario or any need to invest us in the outcome. They’re just actors repeating lines: resolutely competent because they’re all pretty talented, but otherwise uninterested in anything but getting home ahead of traffic.

The rest of the film sticks glumly to formula while peppering us with money shots that fail to amaze and one-liners that fail to amuse. An occasional chuckle escapes once in a while, but most of our energy is spent marveling at how cheap this supposedly high-end film looks. Jokes that sounded good on paper – like giving Bridges the mortal body of swimsuit model Marisa Miller – fall as flat as an open soda can onscreen, leaving wide patches of dead air struggling for traction. The movie’s universe feels equally shoddy, with rules developed more to close up any possible logic holes than to develop or expand the mildly intriguing concept.  Every time RIPD has a chance to show some originality, it refrains. Every time it tries to elevate its game, it sinks deeper into the bog.

We’re left with the kind of inept effort that makes you wonder if anyone in Hollywood even likes the medium they spend so much time and money perpetuating. The cast can be forgiven if not excused – their laid-back charm is the only thing between us and total disaster. The rest of RIPD is truly soulless, and if we don’t outright hate it, it’s only because it fails to generate sufficient cause for such passion. That would mean caring about what happens on screen. The filmmakers clearly didn’t, so why should we?

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

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karas1 7/19/2013 4:06:10 AM

This concept has been done before, not just in MIB but also the TV show Reaper and at least 1 show that appeared on Scifi (back in the day, before it becamd Syfy), maybe two. 

The previews made it look entertaining, if not startilingly original. 

CyanideRush 7/19/2013 4:27:03 AM

 I found it to be a pretty collosal misfire. The roles are swapped from MIB, with the Rookie being the straight man and the veteran being the comic relief. It doesn't work and doing this straight jackets Reynolds, who is normally a charismatic and funny actor. I would have rather seen the Mary Louise Parker Character partnered with Reynolds. 

MrJawbreakingEquilibrium 7/19/2013 4:53:19 AM

Does it explain why these other souls don't look human and are practically monsters?

marcd30319 7/19/2013 4:54:30 AM

 Great, we just got our first August release!

DarkXid 7/19/2013 5:38:43 AM

 I seeJames Hong is in this.  Is he any good and does he get much screen time?  I love that guy.

DarkXid 7/19/2013 5:40:36 AM

 I would totally remake Lethal Weapon or 48 Hours with James Hong and George Takei.  

CyanideRush 7/19/2013 6:09:54 AM

 @MrJawbreakingEquilibrium: Yes, it does explain that.

@DarkXid: Hong is great but he doesn't get all that much screen time. I enjoyed all the moments he had though.

monkeyfoot 7/19/2013 6:29:19 AM

It doesn't matter if a basic idea has been done before. As I always say its all in the execution. The trailer however does look like an exact copy of MIB. I think there is now a youtube video out where they run the MIB and RIPD scenes side by side and it becomes obvious.

I've never read the comic but if I were the filmmaker I would have tried to give it a whole different flavor than MIB or Reaper. Maybe do more ghouilsh macabre stuffr or really bizarre off the wall humor like director Edgar Wright.

For all I know I could actually end up liking this movie but I won't find out until it runs for free on cable.

monkeyfoot 7/19/2013 6:31:24 AM

And for those hoping for a Deadpool movie starring Ryan Reynolds, if this movie is a big failure he probably will have little chance of ever getting that movie out. Studios won't pay for another blockbuster with a star who has a bad box office track record.

CyanideRush 7/19/2013 6:49:52 AM

 @Monkeyfoot, I always feel bad for Reynolds, he has so much screen presence and charisma, but his films continually underperform at the box office. I wish I could report that RIPD was better (I really hoped it was going to be). Alas, not so much.

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