My first thought about this movie was interest, I'm interested with death and the afterlife, ever since Beetlejuice and the Halloween Tree. Though as any person that's seen Men In Black (M.I.B.) will tell you R.I.P.D. shares many similarities of the 90's film. The obvious points would be the car, the hidden police motif, and the new guy with the seasoned older partner. This doesn't bother me since all of these things are expected from action films of this type of genre. It's a Buddy Cop movie with a SciFi filling, though (in both media) they glazed over the fact that this whole story is based in Christian lore. As a framing device for the story it's great since it's not heavy on preaching, which is incredibly appreciated, though it's interesting that we know there's a God in this film, but never see an Angel. Since a lot of the subject matter revolves around virtuous characters like those aspiring to be an Angel and malevolent characters that are Demons from Hell, though that's only in the comic, in the film they're corrupted souls that have escaped or made a deal to stay away from Hell at all costs. It brings up the question, is Constantine a better film than this? Since he's a questionable cop-like character in Christian lore who also fights/bargains with the Devil directly. Roll that over a little, though let's dig a bit deeper into this film and comic series.
Like most comic films that want you to take them seriously, it starts off with something that has nothing to do with the comic. Something not exciting and not relevant to the audience till later in the film. It's like there's a notebook somewhere that tells filmmakers that giving into action in an action movie is bad for business, mind you the comic didn't start any faster. Though an opening gun fight or like in M.I.B. the main character chasing a villain to find that said being is not human, creating the unknown within minutes of the film. So this mystery plays with the perception of what to expect from this point on, with that in mind we have Ryan Renolds planting a tree in his backyard. One thing all movies with guns and demons as the main complication is more gardening tips.
Sometimes it take a little green thumb and a ton of Oni magic to grow something beautiful.
The scene opens up with the main character portrayed by Ryan Renolds digging a hole for a tree that his girlfriend wanted. We have no expectation for these characters, so the next 15 minutes we should find something that'll have us connect with them. I'd be lying if I did, though Nick Walker is a good cop and wants to give the gold back after realizing that keeping it is a bad move. Kevin Bacon (I don't care what the character's name really is, he's Kevin Bacon, sorry Bobby Hayes) wants the gold, we have no honest idea how much gold there is, the only idea is that it's an amount that would have a person consider doing bad for said currency. This is a reasonable opening for the movie, though the strength of the film isn't the basic plot, it's the characters.
That's one thing to remember while going into this movie, that the plot is trash, don't bother keeping up with it, since you could miss something in the movie and be caught up in no time. Though that's not a bad thing, since this is a character film, it's all about morals and what it means to be a good person or as good as can be expected. We live in a world with a lot of grey area, there's only so many that fit into the Black or White parts, the rest of us try not to fall into an uncomfortable path.
I'm not going to go through the whole plot, if you want it, watch the trailer, it's all there, scene for scene. Hell, watch all three Men In Black films and you've got the plot of this movie. It's simple, bad guy is bad, good guy is good, bad guy loses, after a twist of circumstances where the good guy has to be sure he's good, nothing more, then they leave things open for more of these films.
Professor Steeping and Gom are planting gun seeds, Oni gardeners are truly the best.
My problems were with the character development pacing, still they're good characters, though they fell into stereotypes often, but it was interesting to see where these stereotypes could develop in this world. It's giving a writer free range to either make the stereotype look disrespectful or the people around the stereotype look ignorant. Meaning that the Cowboy-Texan-Gun-Happy-Crazy-Veteran-Cop was either some psychotic that enjoyed John Wayne films a bit too much or people just assumed that and didn't think he was competent. Now the only bad part about this thought process was that the character went back and forth between each state of mind, unlike the comic that kept him more dramatic and astute.
Another problem was with the people who were evil in the film, they looked like themselves just with a crack in their face or extra arms or 50 lbs extra weight, this didn't make them seem really horrifying. This is all the known, meaning, we're not afraid (audience) of the undead people, we're afraid of things that go bump in the night. Seeing there are things that could literally eat the pants off of us and spit out the belt buckle with our pelvis bone still in our undergarments, that's scary or a frightful idea at the least. In this film we're dealing with CGI people that aren't really much different from their actor counterparts. It's interesting that the designer (or director) chose to make the evildoers more grounded and less supernatural, given the subject material that the film is based around. In the comic they do it right, making it demons trying to take over or control or destroy the world, giving them human like qualities, but keeping their skin to secondary hues on the color wheel, also the horns helped.
Overall the film was fun and interesting, full of action and a bit of comedy, when they wanted to push drama it was there, though not for more than a few seconds at a time. The cinematography was average and so was the CGI, though everything was designed with an interesting influence and filmed with little to no scrutiny of my own. The creative team was wonderful and the writing kept me in the film, for the most part, like I stated, it's about the characters, so when they had to advance the plot it was hard for me to really want to watch the film, but I was so interested with the characters that it made me enjoy seeing these scenes or seeing the next scene to continue the story of a morally mixed up person who's supposed to be a white knight in this world. If you're a fan of Buddy Cop movies and M.I.B. rip-offs (Men in White, this was a TV movie on Fox Family in 1998, it's charmingly horrible) then this is the type of movie you'd want to see.
I trust you enjoyed the inspection, thank you for reading.
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R.I.P.D. Comic Review
I felt that just watching the movie wasn't enough, I needed to know more about the series and why it had problems or if this was the work of the production team. For the most part the film was faithful to the source material, though they added things to make it more original. If I had to choose, I'd buy the comic, since the story is something that grabs me more. That's not to say that I didn't enjoy the casting (Love you James Hong!), it's the media that works against the movie where the comic compliments both the story and art. This series was published by Dark Horse Comics.
Volume 1 - First published 1999
The Comic opens about the same as the film, we're introduced to the main character, though the name has changed between media. He's a good cop and works with a crooked cop, who's helping the literal Devil. This is where the plot becomes a little weird and is more interesting than the film. We have a sub-plot of demons in a prison like world which is Hell. We're introduced to a demon that has found not only a way out of Hell, but also a way of killing the Devil himself. The partner is more interesting since the Writer and Artist knew how to make a tough Western character, unlike the movie that make him more of a contemporary Texas stereotype, not really a cowboy. Anyhow the ending of the comic is grey, no one wins, no one loses, though the side of good gets a bit stronger, since the sword (not a glorified reverse switch) can kill the Devil, destroying the balance between God. Like the movie it was about the characters, they were really interesting, and their dialogue was fun. The art complements the writing and the 4 part limited series gave it good plot pacing, though it felt like action was more of the focus. In general, if you liked the film, though wanted better (more interesting and compelling designed) guns, then this is the Volume for you.
Volume 2 - First published 2013
This is where the preaching comes in, though at the same time this is the better of the two media. In Volume 2 this is primarily about our Cowboy, the longhaired seasoned veteran. We're dropped in on a new case for the duo, then when things are about to be explained a bit more, the door closes and we're now in the past. This is the origin story of our gruff hero and where all the preaching is stored. More or less this volume goes on and on about the differences for good and bad, why we can't hear the voice of God or what is God. Honestly, if you like the manhwa Priest read that series, it does a better job of going into details and when it preaches about virtuism and evil it makes a point that sticks to your mind. The ending is strong, since the plot does hint at things and doesn't talk down to the reader, though other than this limited series being two issues too long, it's not a bad Weird West story. In short, the designs and characters matched the writing, which complemented the story as a whole, though if you're not into the Christian lore or this quasi-Christian mytho within the R.I.P.D. world, then this isn't a comic for you.