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David Poland

By David Poland

Review: RIPD


I find it very difficult to put RIPD in the right place.

It’s not the worst film ever or of the year or of the summer. But it’s not good.

I think what it really feels like the 3rd or 4th movie is an open-ended franchise that was once fun & original, but has lost its steam. Acting was fine. Directing was fine. Visual effects failed with a lot of the human-like characters who looked like they just hopped out of a computer, but was often quite good in bringing landscapes and stunts to life.

It was almost never offensive (as in “WTF are they doing?”), which is more than I can say about a number of films this summer. But it never really got off the ground.

Perhaps the most obvious problem was the combination of casting and writing. Outside of the film itself, I have heard about a lot of changes over the history of the active development, near green-light for the film. So I don’t know whether, for instance, Ryan Reynolds (who I quite like) ever had an interesting character. As it came out, he’s playing The Girl – good-looking, demanding attention – who happens to be a guy. But does he seem to be uniquely athletic or angry or fearful or ANYTHING? No. Just boring as hell. And Bridges is good enough, but would have been much more interesting in an R-rated version of this, where he got to be raunchier and violent in a more off-putting way.

Kevin Bacon is pretty much by the book in this. And there really is no interesting identifiable villain. Mary Louise Parker is the one bright spot (aside from Stephanie Szostak’s beauty, which is as far as that character goes)… and even she had me thinking about who could have raised the bar on that character even higher.

Story and idea were okay… but what exactly was in play was a mystery for so long that when it finally becomes clear, we are past the point of worrying about it as an audience. Even the missing piece that is meant to be the turning point in the film feels like a throwaway when we see it. On some level, it was clever to make us believe something else was going on with that piece, but the secret is so well-protected that it means nothing to the audience.

Early in the movie, we see this giant, fat character running away… and he looks like a piece of videogame CG. And the film never recovers from that moment of unsuspended disbelief. Of course, if there was great material behind that moment, it could have overcome. But there is never a moment of true excitement, fear or big laughter in the film.

Some have complained about sexism in the film… which after seeing the film is truly hypersensitive, to the point of stupidity. I wish it had been sexist. At least that would be something interesting to watch. Let’s see the model chick adjust her balls (she is the exterior of a guy). Let’s see the Asian guy in a Chinese restaurant. Where is the scene where Bridges seduces someone with his hot chick exterior? Give me SOMETHING!

And of course, this is one of those movies that thinks it’s working. So it does a number of joke recalls that would work if we really loved the moments being recalled. But we don’t. So they seem smug in an unfortunate way… like cutting a sitcom for laugh breaks that don’t come.

It’s not vanilla… because vanilla can be great. It was more like a movie made of tofu, sitting there, waiting to suck up flavor from something else in the pot. But nothing that was put in the pot had enough flavor to add much of anything.

So… not nearly bad enough to be fun as a bad movie. But not nearly good enough to be worth paying to see.

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13 Responses to “Review: RIPD”

  1. movieman says:

    It’s like a video game that nobody in their right mind would ever want to play.
    The best thing about “R.I.P.D.” is the (mercifully brief) length.
    I’d call it a huge disappointment if I’d have thought it might actually be any good in the first place.
    But Universal’s decision not to do any advance screenings kind of send out an “Unclean! Unclean!” Bat Signal, didn’t it?
    I can’t believe someone actually spent $130-million-plus on this thing.
    And who’s bright idea was it to turn Mary Louise Parker into that annoyingly flip-chipper Flo from the Prudential commercials? Yikes.
    “The Heat” finally has some competition in the “Worst Summer Cop Buddy Movie” sweepstakes.

  2. Pete B. says:

    Hey! You leave Flo alone. And she’s in the Progressive commercials anyway.

  3. movieman says:

    Mea culpa, Pete, lol.
    I knew it was an insurance company whose named started with a “P.”

  4. anon says:

    “Let’s see the model chick adjust her balls”

    haha… yea that would’ve made my day!

  5. nick says:

    It does looks like doggie-doo-doo, but I do have one question: how could a $130 million summer movie have CGI that looks like it just “hopped out of a computer”? I ask because I agree — the trailers featured hideously bad CGI and I figured they just weren’t done with the vfx shots…how does this happen at this stage in the game?

  6. Banksy says:

    “I think what it really feels like the 3rd or 4th movie is an open-ended franchise…” supports my initial reaction to the trailier, “Hey, I didn’t know they were finished making Men in Black 4 already.”

  7. James says:

    The budget was closer to $200 million.

  8. Etguild2 says:

    Well, I think this is the last live-action big-budget movie we’ll be seeing Ryan Reynolds in for quite awhile. And after “Blade 3,” “Green Lantern,” and “Wolverine 1” the last comic-based movie ever.

    This puts a bit of a damper on what is otherwise a celebratory summer for Universal…hopefully they’ll bounce back somewhat with “2 Guns.”

  9. movieman says:

    “2 Guns” looks like money in the bank, Et.
    Denzel is one of the most remarkably consistent b.o. draws, and Wahlberg (excepting the occasional “Broken City”) is almost equally reliable.
    So what if it looks as pre-feb generic as most 21st century big ticket Hollywood action flicks?
    Audiences seem to prefer pre-digested meals, don’t they?

  10. Etguild2 says:

    Yup, Denzel has fallen comfortably into taking these roles, though I applaud his willingness to also still take the occasional risk (Flight) and the fact he, amazingly, has never taken part in a sequel.

    “The Equalizer” is right up his alley. Though I have trouble believing he can fill Ed Woodward’s shoes (and I like Denzel), and I can’t begin to imagine how it could even begin to be faithful, it’s a franchise with a concept he could carry for many, many years.

  11. gary says:

    r.i.p.d. Now listen i do not know what you champain sippers think, but this movie was damn funny!I think your humor is as bland as wheaT BREAD.

  12. mollie says:

    I thought it was very funny if you don’t have a sense of humor don’t go see it or watch it I found it to be a funny silly movie

  13. YancySkancy says:

    Yes, because it’s common knowledge that everyone with a sense of humor likes every comedy ever made.

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

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