July 2013 will see the release of two very different ghost movies, both of which are coincidentally out on the same day. The First is James Wan’s new horror film The Conjuring, which tells the “true story” of the Perron family haunting and its investigation by paranormal experts Ed and Lorraine Warren. The Warrens might have to turn their attention to slightly more urgent matters, however, as in the next screen over, ghosts will be trying to take over the world in Robert Schwentke’s supernatural action comedy R.I.P.D.
Ryan Reynolds plays Nick Walker, a veteran cop who finds himself back in rookie shoes when he dies in a shootout and is recruited by the Rest In Peace Department: an afterlife agency that is tasked with rounding up dead spirits trying to worm their way back into the living world. Nick is assigned to work with a 200 year-old cowboy called Roy Pulsipher (Jeff Bridges), and the differences between the two lead to an abrasive, banter-filled buddy cop relationship.
CBM has released an official featurette for R.I.P.D., which gives us a first look at Kevin Bacon in the role of Nick’s pre-death partner, Bobby, and his choice of accessories. If R.I.P.D. plays out according to all the usual action movie clichés, it could be revealed some time towards the end of the film that Bobby somehow orchestrated Nick’s murder.
There are a few other new clips here, but the featurette itself is a little weak. Roughly half are simply scenes that were shown in the main trailer, and the interviews with the cast don’t go much further than them outlining the basics of the plot and who their characters are. Reynolds does, however, mention that Nick and Roy have to prevent some sort of apocalypse. There’s nothing like the potential end of the world to give a movie some structure.
Among the new clips is a scene where Roy, who appears to the living using the avatar of a beautiful blonde woman (Marissa Miller), repels the advances of a suit. It’s a neat way of getting around the potential issues that could arise from Nick (whose avatar is portrayed by Kung Fu Panda voice actor James Hong) running into people that he knew while he was alive. A similar rule was applied in the TV show Dead Like Me, which shares more than a few thematic similarities with R.I.P.D.
Plenty of people have made comparisons between R.I.P.D. and Men in Black, and producer Neal Moritz has described R.I.P.D. as being a blend of elements from lots of other movies, including not only Men in Black but also Ghostbusters, Beetlejuice and Lethal Weapon. One of the potential pitfalls of this approach is ending up with a movie that is too derivative: trying to emulate the appeal of existing successful films and ending up not only falling short of them, but also lacking in originality and uniqueness of its own.
Despite the fact that R.I.P.D. sounds cool in concept, the footage released so far hasn’t really shone with any kind of brilliance. That doesn’t mean that it’s not worth checking out for yourself when it hits theaters – after all, it’s about undead cops fighting evil ghosts – but it’s probably best to go in with low expectations and hope to be pleasantly surprised.
R.I.P.D. is out on July 19, 2013.