Defending our world one soul at a time
Ryan Reynolds hasn't had great luck with being in movies that are a bit off kilter or comic based as of late. He had that debacle with the CG-heavy suit of Green Lantern, and there was that (not really his fault) terrible excuse of a Deadpool in the Wolverine. R.I.P.D. was another movie that seemed to be a box office swing and miss, but we have a question here: Is there a reason behind it's less than stellar performance, or does this movie still have a pulse?
Nick (Ryan Reynolds) is a good cop, and after he and his partner Hayes (Kevin Bacon) take some gold they found at a crime scene he feels guilty about keeping it and wants to turn it in. He tells Hayes of this, and how he can keep his share of the gold because he won't rat him out - but when the two launch a massive raid on a known drug dealer, Nick finds himself getting gunned down. Now dead and proceeding to judgement, Nick's soul is ripped over into an office where he's informed that he can be employed as a officer of the Rest In Peace Department, who monitors and arrests deados - dead folks who refuse to go to their judgement. As a bit of punishment towards an unruly officer, Nick gets assigned as rookie to one Roy (Jeff Bridges) - which is short for a much more elaborate and silly name., but apparently classy back in the wild west.
As the two work together they grow on each other, as would any buddy cops style scenario. Along the way, the stumble across some gold that is rather familiar to Nick, and they discover that the Deados are planning something big. So big, in fact, that it would reverse the flow of the dead to judgement, instead leaving them on Earth to plague the living. Deados themselves look like everyday people until "popped," a phenomena caused through being exposed to the cumin in indian food, although they tend to have a "stank" about them that causes things to break. The only way to kill something that's already dead can be found in a special bullet (that by the final showdown both sides seem to have) finding it's way into the dead folk's head resulting in a fancy little smoke dissolve.
The universe can't just have dead folks walking around so noticeable though, so members of the R.I.P.D. are given alternate "bodies" through which everyone else sees - in the case of Nick, this is an asian man whose banana is actually the gun assigned to Nick by the R.I.P.D. and for Roy a "smoking hot" lady (opinions may vary). Although this makes sense from a standpoint of working better than all the dead folks being invisible somehow interacting with everything, it also comes off feeling like at least partially it was done for the sake of comedy moments spread throughout the movie. The main way for R.I.P.D. Boston to get back in the streets from H.Q. happens to be a VCR repair store in case you were wondering, because "When's the last time you had a VCR repaired?"
Actors deliver a decent performance, and it is indeed rather hysterical the first time we see Nick's chinese counterpart waving around a banana in the eyes of all the normal people running around. If you've seen Reynolds in another movie, then you probably have a decent enough idea of how his acting is for this movie, and although Bridges' character itself is rather annoying at times it feels as though he does a pretty convincing job of getting into that old west character. Bacon, as usual, delivers a pretty well played performance as well, coming off with lines of both comedy and serious in manners that seem appropriate. The romance between Nick and his wife is kind of chintzy at times - mainly it can feel a little heavy handed or forced, and it's possible this could be due to acting or the script, I'm not sure.
There's quite a bit of CG in this movie, and for the most part it's used pretty well. Monsters (or popped Deados, whatever you prefer to call them) retain a humanoid quality to them but each feels unique in it's own way - some have two heads and some are just incredibly fat, while others have multiple eyes, huge mouths, or cracks down their heads. The effect used when one gets hit by the special bullets needed to take them out is pretty well done, as is most of the smoke-type effects. There is a bit of a confusion at one part for me, where in a parking garage has a portal-hole open up in it. You see, when it first opens, a motorcycle is picked up and sucked towards it, and yet the entire rest of that segment is just the building and cars in it collapsing down towards the street as opposed to the portal, which makes me wonder why the motorcycle was picked up - but thats a single minor part really. There's parts in it that are obviously done with CG, but in this particular movie it feels less like something that's game breaking due to the M.i.B. style of humor that can be found.
Costumes and settings are relatively generic for the most part - considering it takes place on modern earth for the vast percentage of screen time. A few of the more interesting sets tend to be in or around the other-world section of the R.I.P.D. headquarters, such as the complex and cool evidence vault. The monsters, as noted before, have interesting differences without making them look to inhuman, but this is done through nearly entirely CG from what I can tell. Props such as the weapons of Nick and Roy look pretty solid and functional, slightly stylized but not to the point where it seems counterproductive to being actually used.
I had fun watching this movie, but it wasn't really any more fun than I had watching, say, the first Men in Black movie. Reynolds and Bridges deliver a solid performance, but they don't have quite the same chemistry that the M.i.B. boys had. I can easily recommend it to you if you enjoyed the M.i.B. series, but know that I don't feel its quite as good as the first one. It's an interesting enough movie, and I don't really get why it is that it didn't do that well in theaters having now seen it myself. Comedy is hit or miss, and the character of Roy can get annoying at times, but the movie doesn't overstay its welcome and does a good job of not bogging itself down with too much at any given time.