Sometimes a film arrives that is so brutally bland, unoriginal and unentertaining that you can’t help but feel bad for everyone associated with it. RIPD is one of those films.
Starring The Dude Jeff Bridges and Ryan Reynolds and directed by Robert Schwentke, the guy who made Red, RIPDis a film that should’ve catered to comic book geeks but somewhere in its production went awfully wrong to the point of irreparability. Ironically Schwentke dropped out of making the surprisingly entertaining sequel to Red to make this movie. It’s a bullet that he should certainly have dodged.
RIPD is based on a graphic novel and is clearly proof that not every comic need to be made into films. The studio earlier brought us a mixed bag of films including Hellboy, 300, the horrendous Virus and the hilariously bad Alien vs Predator movies so it isn’t entirely shocking that it decided to fund yet another box office bomb. There must surely be a fanbase of the RIPD novel for the film version to exist, and to be fair a story of two ghost cops who battle the forces of evil on Earth doesn’t seem too dull. In fact with that plot it was easy to make a full on slapstick comedy or even a smart satire. Unfortunately what the film has turned out to be is a miserable ripoff of Men in Black, with the joyless tone of Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter and the half-baked quality of Hansel and Gretel Witch Hunters.
There’s only a glimmer of the irreverent comedy that the film could’ve been in its running joke where the dead Jeff Bridges appears as a hot woman to humans. It turns out to be the only joke in the movie, and even that was spoiled in the trailers. It doesn’t help that the two leads are dull as ditchwater, incredibly happy to grab their paychecks and run. And to make their banter even more tedious to endure, most of the lines they speak are plot exposition to spoonfeed the audience on the villains’ grand plans. It’s one thing to be a dumb movie but another to consider its audience as equally unintelligent. Hell, even Kevin Bacon as an undead antagonist managed to be unexciting here, it speaks a lot for the effort that went into this movie.
The biggest problem is that the whole film is extremely heavy on fake looking cheesy CGI that makes the graphics from 1984’s Ghostbusters look more sophisticated in comparison. When there is no forced, witless dialogue between the two leads, the filmmakers cram in oodles of computer trickery to pad the lousy narrative. Even the action sequences are soulless and humorless, which is kind of surprising considering the director choreographed some fun stuff in Red and his earlier movie Flightplan. What is actually hilarious is the way RIPD has been edited, because we hardly even see the actors’ faces when they utter their dialogues, which only means that the film went through the editing shredder over and over again till the studios’ egos were massaged to their content. It’s a little unfair to Schwentke because all the resulting amateurish content on screen is attributed to his shortcomings as a filmmaker.
(First published in MiD Day)