Will R.I.P.D. Put Fears To Rest Or Will It Writhe Kicking & Screaming To Movie Hell?
Now this is more like it! R.I.P.D. is an acronym for the Rest In Peace Department, a law enforcement agency that polices ghosts and other supernatural entities. The agents of R.I.P.D. are some of the greatest deceased law enforcers of their respective time period. Ryan Reynolds stars as an FBI agent who is gunned down during a raid and is quickly snapped up to become a part of R.I.P.D. It’s there that he is partnered with the always magnificent Jeff Bridges, an old marshall from the wild west, his gunslinger channels his excellent portrayal of Rooster Cogburn in The Coen Brothers‘ True Grit remake (one of the few remakes that is head and shoulders above the original), but with an intense self awareness of the type of movie he’s in. This means that while Bridges is being the ultimate badass, he’s also simultaneously chewing all of the scenery in sight and gloriously hamming up the screen. Playing off Reynolds’ more earnest rapscallion image, the two of them have strong chemistry, reminiscent of the initially puzzling, but now established genius, pairing of Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith for Men In Black back in 1997. Jones and Bridges had that same balance between air of authority and knowing winks levelled at the crowd and it made the experience incredibly enjoyable.
R.I.P.D. is adapted from a comic book mini series of the same name, originally written by Peter M. Lenkov. It’s particularly fitting that the film spent a fair amount of time languishing in development hell before real progress was made and Robert Schwentke signed on to direct. Schwentke recently delivered the R.E.D. movie and with that he managed to deliver a decent balance between comedy and strong action. Perhaps Schwentke has a penchant for movies that are titled with acronyms and based on little known comic books? That’s a pretty interesting niche you operate in there Mr. Schwentke. Looking at the footage it’s relatively clear that the similarities between Lenkov’s original work are few and far between though hopefully this shouldn’t detract from the movie too much.
It’s clear that R.I.P.D. is taking a hefty amount of influence from the anaals of Men In Black and Ghostbusters (as well as Hellboy and Constantine), in this writer’s opinion two of the greatest sci-fi/buddy cop films in existence, so that’s not a bad thing in the slightest. Personally, I have a rather large soft spot for all of the Men In Black films (despite the principle of diminishing returns)so a film that manages to recapture that magic and cast one of my favourite actors (Bridges) is an extremely exciting prospect for this writer.
Looking over the trailer, it’s clear that they’ve managed to replicate the madcap happenings and creature designs of Men In Black, showing how entities, in this case, supernatural beings, perfectly blend in all around us. The special effects even consist of a style comparable to MIB, so clearly the producers of R.I.P.D. are hoping that people will make that connection.
Oh hey, it’s the peadophile from Prison Break (Robert Knepper)! I wonder what he’s been up to?
Somewhat ironically here’s the film’s producer Neal Moritz to temper our expectations:
“Yeah, I think that was the hardest part of the movie was, ‘what is the exact tone of this movie?’ We’ve talked a lot about movies like ’Lethal Weapon’ meets ‘Men In Black’ or a little bit of ‘Beetlejuice’ thrown in there, a little bit of ‘Ghostbusters’ …
“There was a balance of humour, comedy, action, that we really had to finely distil – every time we added a little bit more of something or had to take a little bit back. We didn’t want the movie to be broad, we wanted it to feel real but it’s got a supernatural concept, so it was just trying to mix all that and dial that together.”
R.I.P.D. is set to be a pretty straight-forward buddy action film, but we all know that this genre relies heavily on the chemistry of the two leads. While the two of them seem to perform very well independently, this trailer doesn’t exactly sell their chemistry all too well, which should raise concern a little. Moritz actually commented on this:
“We had a number of combinations of cast that wanted to do the movie together, but it just never came together right. When ultimately it started to get steam again, we got Jeff Bridges to play that role. To me, out of all the combinations that potentially almost did this movie, there could not have been a better combination than Jeff and Ryan. Jeff just embodies that character so much, it’s amazing.
“Really the core of the movie is the relationship between Jeff and Ryan. For me, buddy cop comedies are really almost my favorite genre and this is really aimed at that. How do we make the relationship of the buddy cop movie fresh? And I think the two of those guys are terrific in it and their relationship just sparkle.”
While it’s somewhat welcoming to see that Moritz is very confident in the film, at the same time this is a guy who makes his salary on it, so it’s not exactly word that can be trusted. It’s fair to say that in this day and age the first trailer is always a little bit underwhelming before the production really knocks it out of the park with the latter trailers, so hopefully R.I.P.D. can still turn out great.
However, what Moritz had to say about the source material, and the film’s fidelity towards it is not going to be welcome news for fans. While the original comic series does have a small readership, they are a passionate one and it will be pretty sad for them to see this property brought to life without the characters that they know and love. In regards to the film’s relationship with the source material, Moritz had this to say:
“I think there are concepts, the characters are very similar. We used it as a jumping off point and there’s a lot that’s similar in both and there’s a lot that’s different in both. I like to think that these movies kind of stand on their own and whether you’ve read the comic book or not read the comic book, the movie is enjoyable to you either way.
“I think that sometimes – especially a comic that has a beloved fanbase but it’s a small fanbase – if we don’t expand it a bit, it doesn’t become a movie for everybody. When you’re making movies at such a high level budget, you really have to make movies that really are for more than just a small group of people.”
For those who can read between the lines that means that they had to bow to studio pressure and likely make some unnecessary changes that will make the film easier for the “masses” to swallow. Moritz here is trying to temper any potential fan outrage, whilst also sell his film. So, we know R.I.P.D. won’t be very faithful to its source material. But will it be a good “all-round” movie?
R.I.P.D. is directed by Robert Schwentke (RED) and written by Phil Hay. It’s adapted from a comic book of the same name by Peter M. Lenkov and stars Ryan Reynolds, Jeff Bridges and Kevin Bacon. It will be released in theatres on the 19th July in the US and not until the 30th August in the UK and is being released by Dark Horse Entertainment.