‘R.I.P.D.’ Review

Published 2 years ago by , Updated November 15th, 2014 at 12:20 am,

RIPD Jeff Bridges Ryan Reynolds R.I.P.D. Review

Forgiving viewers (and Deados) may find some enjoyment in R.I.P.D. but the film is so choppy and half-baked that living, thinking, moviegoers are better off letting this one rest in peace.

R.I.P.D., adapted from the Dark Horse Entertainment comic book series, follows Boston police detective Nick Walker (Ryan Reynolds) who is killed in the line of duty during a routine drug bust. Though, as Walker ascends into the heavens, prepared to face judgment, he’s recruited by the Rest in Peace Department – a supernatural agency designed to hunt down deceased souls that have escaped from the afterlife. Walker gets partnered with ornery former lawman, and R.I.P.D. veteran, Roy Pulsipher (Jeff Bridges) – a lone wolf who begrudgingly takes the newly deceased “rookie” under his wing.

Survived by his wife Julia (Stephanie Szostak) and partner Bobby Hayes (Kevin Bacon), Walker has trouble letting go of is former life and fully accepting his new role hunting “Deados.” However, when an escaped stiff leads the partners to evidence suggesting an imminent threat to the R.I.P.D., Walker must put aside his personal desires to help prevent a catastrophic event that would shatter the balance between life and death on Earth.

RIPD Ryan Reynolds Mary Louise Parker Jeff Bridges R.I.P.D. Review

Ryan Reynolds, Mary-Louise Parker, and Jeff Bridges in ‘R.I.P.D.’

For many moviegoers, the R.I.P.D. trailers suggested a supernatural buddy cop action-comedy in the vein of Barry Sonnenfeld’s Men in Black series – trading aliens for Deado monstrosities as well as Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones for Ryan Reynolds and Jeff Bridges. Unfortunately, where a paranormal variation on Men in Black-style moviegoing could provide a captivating viewing experience, R.I.P.D. is an inferior film in nearly every single way imaginable – one that isn’t likely to satisfy anyone but exceptionally forgiving audience members who can overlook the clumsy script, outdated CGI visuals, and sophomoric humor.

Instead of creating and developing a fresh new franchise world, the R.I.P.D. story haphazardly throws Walker into the afterlife without worthwhile setup for anything more than one ridiculous (and ugly looking) CGI chase after another – punctuated by a hit or miss blend of flat jokes that range from fart noises and sex gags to awkward character interactions that are more weird than they are funny. The larger plot elements, scripted by Clash of the Titans writers Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi, are arbitrarily stitched together in an effort to keep the zany ideas contained under a single narrative through line. As a means to move the story from Point A to B, the plot is serviceable but few of the characters or narrative components are developed beyond basic one-note cogs in the machine. Worst of all, the supernatural elements are a wasted opportunity – jumbled inside frenetic action sequences without properly establishing the “rules” of the R.I.P.D. universe.

RIPD James Hong Marisa Miller R.I.P.D. Review

James Hong and Marisa Miller in ‘R.I.P.D.’

The result is an oftentimes-confusing clutter that forces audience members to learn paranormal mechanics on the fly. As an example, one sequence expects viewers to differentiate between what everyday people see (an aging old Chinese man holding a banana) and what is actually happening (Ryan Reynolds shooting a R.I.P.D. issue gun), but fails to establish whether or not monsters are visible to living eyes ahead of time. For that reason, audience members who are not informed R.I.P.D. comic book readers will have to make sense of several sequences that the film doesn’t bother to properly set up.

Even though their characters are mostly one-note caricatures, an enjoyable dynamic between Reynolds and Bridges helps to inject some genuine entertainment in an otherwise clumsy production. Director Robert Schwentke, known best for surprising audiences with his 2010 action-comedy RED, uses his two leads to solid effect – managing to salvage the experience with some fun (and downright bizarre) odd couple antics. Still, neither role provides either performer much room for experimentation: both Reynolds and Bridges are simply replicating prior entries in their filmography as basic hunky and crotchety character tropes, respectively.

Similarly, Mary-Louise Parker offers a fun performance as the R.I.P.D.’s Proctor – serving as an intriguing foil to Bridges’ Pulsipher, especially. Proctor’s overall contribution is thin, another quirky piece of the puzzle without any substantial development, but her scenes are some of the more amusing additions – if for no other reason than they are also some of the strangest. Conversely, Kevin Bacon’s presence is entirely wasted – unceremoniously included to help drive the plot forward but void of any nuance. In the past, Bacon has shined in similar parts and his flat characterization is likely the result of panicked post-production trimming (considering the film’s brief 96-minute runtime).

RIPD Kevin Bacon Ryan Reynolds Jeff Bridges R.I.P.D. Review

Kevin Bacon, Ryan Reynolds, and Jeff Bridges in ‘R.I.P.D.’

Yet, easily the most disappointing element of R.I.P.D. is the downright dated CGI effects – which harken back to plastic-looking creatures of the late 1990s. Even inanimate objects, such as gears in a massive R.I.P.D. vault, lack the polish of modern CGI effects – especially considering the film’s reported $130 million production budget. Fast-moving actions sequences help hide the disconnect between green screen environments, CGI monsters, as well as real-life actors and props – but the scenes are so frantic that it’s hard to appreciate the moment-to-moment hijinks. In addition, the Deados are surprisingly generic – as if Schwentke and his design team thought contorted heads and extra arms would be enough for memorable and creepy movie monsters. Instead, the twisted creatures are distracting, made even worse by those cartoony CGI effects.

R.I.P.D. is playing in 2D and 3D theaters and there’s absolutely no reason to purchase a premium ticket this round. The 3D effect is negligible and unlikely to satisfy any 3D viewer – whether they enjoy in-your-face 3D pop out or the subtle depth-of-field approach. Post-converted 3D can be effective, but in the case of R.I.P.D., it’s clear 3D was added to help generate extra box office revenue – and the premium up charge does not result in a more immersive or rewarding viewing experience.

RIPD Deado R.I.P.D. Review

An R.I.P.D. Deado

Overall, R.I.P.D. is a poor iteration on similar action comedy offerings – with a brainless and mostly unfunny script, awkward visuals, as well as underdeveloped characters. Competent performances from the leads provide a handful of entertaining exchanges but the execution of larger plot beats and subpar onscreen presentation undercuts any of the film’s successes. Forgiving viewers (and Deados) may find some enjoyment in R.I.P.D. but the film is so choppy and half-baked that living, thinking, moviegoers are better off letting this one rest in peace.

If you’re still on the fence about R.I.P.D., check out the trailer below:


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R.I.P.D. runs 96 minutes and is Rated PG-13 for violence, sci-fi/fantasy action, some sensuality, and language including sex references. Now playing in 2D and 3D theaters.

Let us know what you thought of the film in the comment section below.

Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick for future reviews, as well as movie, TV, and gaming news.

Our Rating:

1.5 out of 5
(Poor, A Few Good Parts)

Follow Ben Kendrick on Twitter @benkendrick
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  1. That low ? O_o

    • ^^ Possibly the best avatar ever for movie-site blogging.

      • Ahah thanks :D

    • How’s that a surprise? Haven’t you seen the absolutely awful trailer?

    • @Martin

      I REALLY didn’t want to see this movie for many reasons, but my friend really wanted to… So I’ve seen it. 1.5 stars is him being generous… Trust me, skip it. It IS as dumb as the trailers look. Maybe even dumber…

  2. “one ridiculous (and ugly looking) CGI chase after another – punctuated by a hit or miss blend of flat jokes that range from fart noises and sex gags to awkward character interactions that are more weird than they are funny.”

    The above is EXACTLY how I would have described any of the MiB films.

    So your review comforts me. I was praying this film wouldn’t be like MiB, which I absolutely despised. And if you lauded MiB, then chances are I’ll probably enjoy R.I.P.D.

    • I’m not even sure if you read this review, considering MiB is a great series to begin with.

      • You should give the cartoon series a change too if you get the chance. I liked it even more than the movies. Just a suggestion.

      • MiB isn’t “a great series to begin with”.
        YOU liked it. Period.
        That doesn’t make it “great”.

        And yes, obviously I read the review, since I QUOTED from it.

        • I think MiB was a great series as well. The first one, absolutely. Second one… Meh. Third one was a great ending to a trilogy.

          • I didn’t like any of the MiB movies either.

          • I loved the first one, the second one was ok, nothing special, the third one i thought was dreadful and unnecessary, the story was dull and it wasn’t even funny or entertaining. Josh Brolin’s impersonation of K, was great to watch but definitely not compelling enough to carry an entire film, especially one with a dreadful script.

    • @Mikey

      I don’t know, RIPD was garbage in my opinion. But different strokes for different folks. I hope you enjoy it…

  3. I had to do a double take on the author of the review after reading it. Ouch, Ben. But if its true, then its true.

  4. How suprising. Hope it tanks real hard.

  5. I’m more surprised that other people are shocked by how bad it is. This looked atrocious from the start.

    • Agreed. The trailers looked terrible.

    • Yep, bad trailers, Ryan Reynolds, this had crap written all over it. And after being dragged to see it by a friend, I can confirm, it is every bit as bad as you think it could be…

  6. I went to the Conjuring movie last night but new a couple of friends that went to check out RIPD and they told me it was pretty horrid but that it was also packed(mostly kids)

  7. Ryan Reynolds kiss Deadpool goodbye

  8. This is a bigger mess than I was anticipating.
    How can this cast and 130 million go so wrong.

    The failure of this film and together with others
    this summer will likely create collateral damage
    where studios will not fund other movies that
    many have been hoping would be produced.

    You are a fair a writer as there is, Ben, and
    and you did try to find its saving graces
    but there are precious few to be had.

    • *as* fair

  9. I feel so bad for Ryan Reynolds. Every comic book movie he’s in is complete sh*t. Blade Trinity, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Green Lantern and now this. Just so terrible but its funny because all of those films are not his fault. Its not his fault Gavin Hood f***ed up Deadpool and Reynolds was actually the only good thing about Green Lantern.

    • +1

      I also think Mark Strong was one of the only good things about Green Lantern.

      • Mark Strong Sinestro is great and could have rivaled dudes like Tom Hiddleston Loki in awesomeness.

        • +10

          I enjoyed him as Green Lantern, and honestly I think he could make the PERFECT Deadpool. He’s the same dude. It’s sad because Ryan Reynolds is actually a solid actor. I enjoy his quips most times, but I was genuinely surprised by his performances in movies such as Buried and The Nines. Where he put the serious face on. And Mark Strong FTW!!!

    • come on deadpool they’re comic book movies! Not meant to be classic’s. Just meant to sit eat popcorn and forget about all the c**p going on outside.

      • I enjoyed Wolverine but Blade Trinity was bad and I loved Blade 2. But Green Lantern makes me cry every time I think about it.

  10. I had some hopes of a new mib but i have this theory that any movie with ryan Reynolds is bad. I’ve yet to be wrong. unless someone knows one

    • See above comment. Buried. Watch that movie with the lights off and close to a good sized screen and tell me you don’t get claustrophobic. Some script holes but it can be overlooked. He’s the only one in the movie. The cast consists of a box, a cell phone, and a lighter. And he does a hell of job.

      • @Millerman

        Seen Buried. Very overrated, very contrived…

    • Buried.

      Safe House.

      Those are just two but I’ve enjoyed many more (I say this as someone who has never seen Van Wilder because that type of “comedy” movie doesn’t appeal to me).

    • Safe House. It made more money than it should have and deserves a sequel.

      • I am a big Denzel Washington fan, but sorry, Safe House was terrible…

        • God i can’t echo that more Ken, I literally went to see the movie simply for Denzel, but despite his as always spot on acting, it was INSANELY predictable, not to mention bland action sequences, and god awful directing, myself and a handful of people i heard when walking out talked about how dizzying the awful super close up camera work was. Was very disappointed with that film.

    • Maybe Reynolds is just not cut out for the comic based or sci-fi genre.

  11. Can’t be any worse then man of steel

    • Really? You’re seriously going to start this?

      • Don’t feed the troll!

        • Man Of Steel wasn’t bad though, it was just average. Nothing more, nothing less.

          How dare you even say it was horrible.

  12. I thought about checking this out as a five dollar matinee but I might just wait for it to show up at Redbox/Netflix.

    • @Corey

      Or, just save even your $1 and don’t watch it at all. You won’t be missing anything…

  13. Well that’s a shame. I had higher hopes for a team up of this caliber. :(

  14. Another Renolds turd.

  15. This was a fantastic time waster, not that I wasted my time, but I needed to kill the boredom for an hour or so.

    I’d watch it again when it hits Netflix.

  16. Ryan Reynolds strikes again.

    • +1

  17. - 3

  18. i liked it! yep pretty much men in black – but i enjoyed watching it. had a plot and was enjoyable to sit through.

  19. To the ones who spent their money so I don’t have to spend mine. THANK YOU.

    • @ghost

      Yah, shut it. I blame my idiot fiend with his stupid taste in movies and actors…

  20. Ryan Reynolds needs to do another Van Wilder movie to get back on his feet. ha. ha. :/

  21. This movie had failure written all over it. Ryan Reynolds(or his agent) just don’t understand what kinda movies he should be in. Low brow or dummy romantic comedies. That’s it. NO action or sci-fi. I don’t mind the dude but he’s not a good actor.

  22. My 11 year old granddaughter suggested this movie. I had read the earlier reviews and was predisposed to “not like” this movie. Boy, did the critics get this wrong. Focus on the dynamics between the two main characters. The writing, dialogue, and “tongue in cheek” humor, and above all, the “acting…not to act”…carry this movie.

  23. I found the trailer of the movie amusing. How is it possible that it sucks so much with the users rating! But I’ll still watch it tomorrow my-self, because the same thing happened to ‘The Lone Ranger’ and the movie turned out to be very good. If you want to judge a movie, do it your-self that’s what I always say.

  24. Jeff Bridges sounded like he had chewing tobacco in his mouth through the whole movie. It got annoying after a while. Ryan Reynolds was just taking a paycheck.

  25. There really is no accounting for taste.

    I didn’t know this movie existed until I sat down to watch it. Not bad, actually.
    Reynolds and Bridges were solid as always (even if they phoned it in, so far as they both played characters we’ve seen them respectively play before).

    Probably not worth going out of your way for, but if it lands in your lap, definitely worth a watch at least :/