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A recently slain cop joins a team of undead police officers working for the Rest in Peace Department and tries to find the man who murdered him.
For more about R.I.P.D. and the R.I.P.D. Blu-ray release, see R.I.P.D. Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on October 25, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Jeff Bridges, Ryan Reynolds, Kevin Bacon, Mary-Louise Parker, Stephanie Szostak, Robert Knepper
Director: Robert Schwentke
» See full cast & crew
R.I.P.D. Blu-ray Review
"Learn to sit on your regret and pain until it turns into a dull, persistent ache!"
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, October 25, 2013
Rather than kick R.I.P.D. while it's down... writhing on the ground, desperate to grab hold of anything that might help it hoist itself up... ahem. Let's try that again. Rather than go on and on about R.I.P.D.'s box office woes, doomed-from-the-start script, unholy reliance on genre convention, Looney Tunes CG and moon-bounce action sequences... hrm. Let's give it one more try. Rather than focus on just how bad 90% of director Robert Schwentke's monstrously deformed supernatural Men in Black clone really is, it occurred to me that maybe, just maybe, I should try a different angle for once. "Touch on the positives," I thought. Unfortunately, that amounts to a single word: casting. Ryan Reynolds, Kevin Bacon, Mary-Louise Parker and (especially) Jeff Bridges clearly had the time of their afterlives bounding from one green-screen set piece to the next, laughing like madmen all the way to the film's shoot-em-up endgame; a bizarre concoction comprised of bits and pieces from MIIB, Ghostbusters II and Wild Wild West. Once I realized there's no defending R.I.P.D., though, I gave up trying. Schwentke's cast may be a godsend, but the rest of the movie is the stuff of development hell. That's right, it's as terrible as you've heard. At the very most, someone, somewhere will declare it a must-see guilty pleasure, and more power to 'em. The rest of you would do well to avoid this one at all costs. It'll swallow your soul; no Evil Dead reference intended.
When Boston Police Department detectives Nick Walker (Reynolds) is gunned down by his corrupt partner Bobby Hayes (Bacon), he finds himself rocketing through the clouds, passing through the not-so-pearly gates, and sliding to a halt in the offices of the Rest in Peace Department. Managed by Eternal Affairs, the RIPD is heaven's police force, tasked with tracking down Earthbound souls who refuse to cross over, and Nick is their newest recruit. Partnered with Old West lawman Roycephus Pulsipher (Bridges), Nick goes on his first ride-along, only to stumble across evidence that points to a sinister plot being orchestrated by the undead of the world. Now, with the help of commanding officer Mildred Proctor (Mary-Louise Parker) and in the unchangeable guise of an old Chinese man (James Hong) and a young supermodel (Marissa Miller), Nick and Roy have to get to the bottom of the Deados' devious plan, keep Nick's still-grieving widow Julia (Stephanie Szostak) out of harm's way, and save the entire planet from a horrific fate.
I'm still amazed at how closely R.I.P.D. tiptoes, follows and plods in the footsteps of Men in Black. A talented young detective is reluctantly recruited into a secret organization that protects the public from the hidden and unseen. Trained by a grizzled veteran, the detective soon finds himself racing to save the planet from a villainous Big Bad whose plans herald the end of all things. Along the way, the detective is forced to look at the world in a new light, gawking at all manner of otherworldly creatures. Pairing his street smarts with advanced weaponry and powers, he sets out to bring baddies to justice and restore peace on Earth, and good will toward men. Which would be a-okay -- Men in Black by way of heaven and hell? Count me in -- if, that is, it brought something new to the table. R.I.P.D. feels as if it were developed using MiB Mad Libs, sprinkling in additional genre clichés at random. Considering comicbook writer Peter M. Lenkov penned the original 4-issue miniseries in 1999, two years after MiB made a splash in theaters, it isn't hard to track the creative inspiration from the turn of the century to 2013. Schwentke and screenwriters Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi are acutely aware of the similarities, mind you, pushing each other to their wits' end to differentiate the undeniable doppelgängers. There's little room for deviation, though. The more the filmmakers work to distance R.I.P.D. from MiB -- to diminishing avail I might add -- the more obvious the connections between the two become. (Minus the overall quality and entertainment value of the final products.)
It doesn't help that the Deados are a hideously mo-capped, garishly animated gang of Adult Swim rejects as cartoonish as they are unimaginatively designed. Or that for every semi-clever twist on heaven and the afterlife, there are a dozen camptastic encounters, all culminating in a vault heist and climactic shootout that lack any sense of weight; physical or emotional. Pinballing between slapstick comedy, PG-13 grossout gags, poorly implemented action, dead-on-arrival drama, silly chase scenes and an ever-changing set of rules that defy any sense of internal logic, R.I.P.D. is a mess of plot holes and missed opportunities. Worse, its jokes rarely earn laughs, its melodrama barely registers, and each and every twist and turn can be seen coming a mile off. The cast do their best, that much is obvious. Unfortunately, Reynolds is diving headfirst into a shallow pool, Bacon is given little to do other than chew scenery, Parker is handed a triangle and asked to play the same Nancy Botwin-note over and over and over again, and Bridges -- refreshing and welcome as his hilarious improvisational skills are -- can only do so much. He's having an enormous amount of admittedly infectious fun, but he's no miracle-worker. Perhaps if the film's visual effects weren't lodged six or seven years in the past, if its script were tighter, its afterlife adventure more inventive or its punches less telegraphed, Bridges and his co-stars might have pulled off the impossible. Instead, R.I.P.D. coughs, gasps, kicks and finally, after an unbearably long fight to hold on, gives up the ghost and allows the credits to put it out of its misery.
R.I.P.D. Blu-ray, Video Quality
No matter how bad R.I.P.D. gets, it looks great getting there. Yes, the film's (mercifully sparse) CG is even more garish and unsightly in high definition, but it'd be unjust to hold the sins of the filmmakers against Universal's otherwise impressive 1080p/AVC-encoded video presentation. Colors are natural and effective, with fiery reds and oranges, stormy blues and grays, convincingly saturated skintones, and satisfying black levels. Contrast is also consistent from start to finish -- never too dull, never too hot, but a wee bit dusty at times -- and detail is intact. Edges are crisp and clean, without any troubling halos or ringing to speak of. Textures are refined and revealing, and only lose their luster as practical makeup applications give way to the soft, rubbery CG faces and hulking husks of the undead. Delineation is quite good too, without anything in the way of debilitating crush or noisy shadows. Even the film's faint veneer of grain is present and accounted for. More importantly, macroblocking, banding and other BD Deados are nowhere to be found. The only time ugly anomalies creep into the image is, again, when they're attached to computer-generated beasties. All told, fans and critics alike will at least be able to agree on the quality of R.I.P.D.'s presentation.
R.I.P.D. Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Universal's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track is a lot of fun, with plenty of directional wizardry that creates an entertaining, enveloping action-oriented experience. The LFE channel makes its presence known every other minute, embracing every explosion, implosion, shotgun blast, Deado landing, supernatural thoom and boom, and eruption of general disarray the film hurls into the mix. The rear speakers, meanwhile, are busy, busy, busy, latching onto the hustle and bustle of the RIPD precinct and offices, the convincing chatter of Boston's crowded streets and hum of its street traffic, and the sheer chaos that spills from one plane of reality to the next. Directional effects are playful and precise, pans boast ghostly transparency, and the soundfield is immersive. (For the most part anyway. Quieter scenes are a bit too front-heavy, de-prioritizing the sort of ambient aura more rewarding sound design might offer.) Moreover, dialogue is clean, clear and intelligible, without any lost lines or muffled deliveries. Bridges' thick drawl can be a touch difficult to understand, but it hardly matters. Misunderstanding the grizzled lawman proves to be just as funny as catching exactly what he says. Ultimately, it's a riotous, rambunctious lossless track full of life and spirit. No serious complaints here.
R.I.P.D. Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Blu-ray/DVD/UltraViolet Combo Pack Contents (Subject to Change): The initial combo pack release of R.I.P.D. features a slipcover (with the original pressing), a single BD-50 disc, a standard DVD copy of the film, and a Digital HD UltraViolet digital copy (UniversalDigitalCopy.com download via redemption code). Please note: the R.I.P.D. UltraViolet digital copy works with iTunes.
R.I.P.D. Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Even as an at-times shameless Men in Black clone, R.I.P.D. could be much, much better. A sharper vision, more decisive direction, a smarter screenplay and less generic baddies would have gone a long way to patching the film's wounds, which is where the cast -- Schwentke's saving grace -- comes into play. R.I.P.D. never amounts to a good film, but Reynolds and Bridges give it a go anyway and breathe as much life into the horrifying hijinks as possible. I hated almost every minute of Schwentke's supernatural romp and yet enjoyed watching Reynolds and Bridges have a ball. Go figure. Universal's Blu-ray release is another matter, thankfully. While its special features leave a lot to be desired, its AV presentation is sound, with a strong video presentation and terrific DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track. Even so, I'd recommend proceeding with caution.
R.I.P.D.: Other Editions
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