Maybe if R.I.P.D. came out in 1996 it would be considered a good movie. Not great but good just like the first MEN IN BLACK movie. Movies like R.I.P.D. and the MEN IN BLACK trilogy rely on people showing up to the theater to be amused by their big special effects and know that the movie is good because big name movie stars agreed to be in it. These are not story driven films. The plots are always about saving the entire world from some big disaster thingy because that is as big as the story can be. But it is not 1996. We have seen bigger better films made that take the material seriously. R.I.P.D. I believe is based off a comic. If so this movie maybe more like Stallone's JUDGE DREDD where the source material was jettisoned to make way for weaker, blander, safer story elements that would equal box office success and not so much artistic credibility.
So....Ryan Reynolds is a good cop who makes one questionable decision but decides he is going to correct that decision but is murdered by his corrupt partner, Kevin Bacon. After being murdered Ryan Reynolds is pulled up into Heaven for judgement but before he meets his maker he is suddenly pulled into the R.I.P.D. unit to be partnered up with Jeff Bridges to have a formulaic adventure where the two cops are first at odds with each other but then learn to appreciate one another's differences while at the same time saving the world from complete annihilation by a big swirling C.G.I. thingy. (See movie poster for details) Its one of those movies you have seen so many times you know the whole movie by the trailer.
You would think that maybe the film would be funny or at the least bit entertaining with two great stars like Ryan Reynolds and Jeff Bridges. I like these two...but not in this movie. It is not for their lack of trying either. Both do a fine job with the material that they are given. There just isn't much to work with. Their characters are as realistic as the big cartoon special effects. Ryan tries to give his vanilla character some charm but despite the film spending much of the run time following him he just isn't given anything to do that would make him a stand out character. The film would rather bore us with repetitive adventure scenes of cartoon zombie ghost whatevers bouncing and running about until finally caught or shot into nonexistence. The movie figures the audience will be too bored with character development. In the end our two heroes never develop a genuine bond of friendship. We the audience could care less what happens to these two.
The ideas that form R.I.P.D. seem to be under cooked. Take for example the Deados. Are they ghosts? Are they zombies? What are they exactly? They hide in human form but do they all look how they used to look when they were alive? Wouldn't that just make it easier for the good guys to tell who was dead without the Deados making themselves look normal? The R.I.P.D. folks look like totally different people. Ryan Reynolds comes back to earth looking like James Hong which is the one funny thing in this movie. Do the Deados look like completely different people too? You would think the R.I.P.D. would have a list of who was dead and not suppose to be on earth anymore. When you shoot a Deado with R.I.P.D.'s guns the Deado is erased from existence. I think if you were a Deado you would want that rather than being condemned to hell. It almost encourages them to be bad. Why not just shoot them all so they don't build a thing that causes another thing to happen that makes the world overrun with Deados. It is not like shooting them is overly cruel. They wouldn't even know what happened to them. I just don't get this movie.
No matter where the camera is placement or how big the special effect the film fails in every way to engage the audience. The Deados are big blurbs shrinky-dinked on the screen never looking real and hard to see any detail to their features. They move about the screen in blurs. These effects are cartoons. They don't look real. They look annoying. This wouldn't be bad if it were in the early to mid nineties. We could forgive them then but now with so many advancements in the technology where often it is hard to tell what is real and what is computer there is no excuse except for a lack of passion for the project. Maybe they wanted more cartoony to go along with the comedic nature of the film but it still means we are giving visuals that do not impress or even leave a lasting image in your head. In fact it is kind of hard to remember what even happened in this movie after watching it. Even bad films leave an impression. R.I.P.D. is so mediocre it is forgettable and that is the biggest travesty for any film. Unless you are an actor in that film for which you would want people to forget the mediocre bad movie you were in.
R.I.P.D. has a good concept of ghost cops hunting down ghost bad guys. There is a good story there somewhere. Hopefully this movie gets remade faster than the Spider-Man films. The same thing could happen that happened to DREDD. The original wasn't very good but eventually a truly great DREDD film was made. That is probably the best R.I.P.D. fans could hope for. With Hollywood remaking everything there is no doubt R.I.P.D. will get the remake treatment. You just might be working for the R.I.P.D. when it happens.