Tuesday, July 23, 2013

R.I.P.D. 3D review

Did you know that spicy Indian food will expose the dead living among us? It's just one of the many rules of the afterlife in the movie, R.I.P.D. The film stars Ryan Reynolds and Oscar winner, Jeff Bridges.

In R.I.P.D., Boston detective Nick Walker (Ryan Reynolds) confronts his partner, Bobby Hayes (Kevin Bacon) about some gold which they took from a crime scene. They decide to turn the gold in. But before they can do that, a call comes in that a major drug dealer is holed up in a warehouse. Nick is killed during the arrest attempt and he's sucked up to purgatory. Once there, he's greeted by Mildred Proctor (Mary-Louise Parker), a supervisor, in the Rest In Peace Department or R.I.P.D. Oh,that's where the title of the movie comes from. Anyway, Proctor explains that the purpose of R.I.P.D. is to go to earth and arrest the dead that are hiding among the living. They're called "deados." What? No zombies? Proctor knows about Walker's life and offers him a deal. Use his police skills and enlist in the R.I.P.D or face judgment. Walker decides to join the force. You didn't think he would choose judgment, did you? I mean that's the end of the movie.

Nick is paired with R.I.P.D. officer, Roy Pulsipher (Jeff Bridges). Pulsipher, let's call him Roy, was a sheriff from the Wild West when he was killed. Roy decides to show the rookie, Nick, the ropes. You know like the Indian food trick. Once a deado is exposed, he or she becomes a hulk of rotting flesh. When a suspect literally vomits some gold, Nick suspects that stolen gold from his life and this gold must be related and part of a bigger mystery.

It took five writers to bring this movie to life from a comic book of the same name by Peter Lenkov. Peter, sorry to mention your name with this movie that's sure to be nominated for a Razzie award. But I'm sure your comic book was better. There are multiple problems with the movie, R.I.P.D. First, it tries to be Men in Black. (1997) But that movie was witty in its juxtaposition of modern life with aliens among us. R.I.P.D is not witty unless you like vomiting and deformed monsters. Second, the comic timing that director Robert Schwentke had for RED (2010) abandons him. That's because the writers do a terrible job at writing jokes. Then there are the plot holes. Let me put it this way. In this universe, there is evidence of God. I mean the guys in R.I.P.D. report to somebody. And somebody is judging the departed souls. So how come God can't tell the R.I.P.D. who is dead or not? To quote James T. Kirk in Star Trek V, "Aren't you God?" But why even have a R.I.P.D.? I think God can return the dead to the afterlife. If only Peter Lenkov wrote about other undead characters in his comic. Republicans. I keeed. I keeed. No, I mean zombies. Yeah, the world needs another zombie flick or a vampire movie, starring teenagers.

Ryan Reynolds needs to read his scripts. Dude, the ladies love your body but it's time for them to love your mind. I will give him credit for an earnes t performance here. Playing Walker's wife is Stephanie Szostak. She radiates a beautiful soul, one that you can see why Nickis reluctant about letting go. Mary-Louise Parker is given very little to do in the comic area and that's a waste. But the worst performance comes from Jeff Bridges. His Roy is similar to his Rooster Cogburn from True Grit (2010) if Cogburn smoked meth. And many times, it sounds like he has marbles in his mouth. Can't laugh if you don't understand what he's saying. But I must admit there's also something appealing about his Roy. Maybe it's the devil may care attitude that works with the cowboy mentality. He reminds me of a R rated Yosemite Sam.

There are two performances that could have been used to better comic effect. Supermodel Marissa Miller is Pavlenko who is Roy's avatar. You see the R.I.P.D. must use avatars to operate on earth. So Roy's is a gorgeous blonde. There's comic gold that needed more mining here. Then there is Nick's avatar. He's an old Chinese man named Chen. He's played by legendary character Chinese actor James Hong.  (Pictured above.)   Now this is interesting. Hong has been in show business since the fifties. He's been in classic films like Chinatown. (1974) Was in a porn movie called China Girl. (1975) No, he did not perform sex acts. Was in great television shows. The Taxi episode, The Great Race (1979) comes to mind. Then there are the iconic genre films. Blade Runner. (1981) Big Trouble in Little China. (1986) He was the voice of Mr. Ping in Kung Fu Panda. (2008) That's quite a resume.

As for the 3D version of R.I.P.D., it represents what's wrong with converting a 2D movie to 3D. And R.I.P.D. is a conversion. I've written many times the lack of quality of 3D cinema when you compare a conversion to a movie shot in native 3D, i.e. with 3D cameras. What you get with R.I.P.D. is the pop up book effect. There's depth between 2D cutouts. That's what it looks like. You can't get the popping effect of native 3D where objects feel like they're in the theater with you. At least most of this movie featured day scenes and the darkness issue with many conversions is not present. But the lack of the pushing out from the screen or popping makes this movie an ordinary 3D conversion. Nothing to see here. Save your money and watch the 2D version.

R.I.P.D. is not a good movie. It lacks laughs. It's not terrible either. I mean I did not find it boring. Could be a guilty pleasure. The grade is C Plus.

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