• Film reviews

    #575 – R.I.P.D. 2: Rise of the Damned (2022)

    R.I.P.D. 2: Rise of the Damned (2022)

    Film review #575

    Director: Paul Leyden

    SYNOPSIS: Sherriff in the Old West Roeciphus Pulsipher is gunned down and killed in a shootout with some outlaws. Before he can proceed to the after life, he is recruited by the Rest in Peace Department (R.I.P.D.) to hunt down souls that have not departed from the Earth. “Roy” is partnered with veteran officer Jeanne to investigate a disturbance that could put the whole of humanity at risk…

    THOUGHTS/ANALYSIS: R.I.P.D. 2: Rise of the Damned is a 2022 film. Despite what the name implies, the film is not a sequel, but a prequel to the 2013 film R.I.P.D., in which we see the story of how veteran officer Roeciphus “Roy” Pulsipher joined the department. The film is set in the Old West, where Roy is killed in a shootout with a local outlaw gang. He is recruited by the Rest in Police Department (R.I.P.D.) to deal with souls called “Deados” who have remained on Earth after death and must be sent to the afterlife. Roy is teamed up with another officer, Jeanne, to investigate an increase in strange activity. If you watched the first film, you’ll know exactly what to expect from this film, because it is basically the same plot: rookie and veteran partner up to stop the souls of the dead from returning to Earth. However, unlike the first film, which was still entertaining by just rushing through the film and relying on constant action and strong character performances, R.I.P.D. 2 doesn’t even have that, and the film stumbles along without any real energy or appeal. It doesn’t expand on the world or the lore in any way, it doesn’t reveal anything new about the characters, it’s just a completely recycled product with all the good stuff thrown out.

    The only returning character from the first film is Roy, who was played by Jeff Bridges in the original, is played here by Jeffrey Donovan (obviously Bridges would have been a bit too pricey for this low-budget prequel). While I see a lot of praise for Donovan’s performance, I just didn’t see it. In his defence, it might just be the awful script and writing that is giving him stunted dialogue and interactions, which is certainly feasible, as the characters interact rather clumsily. Jeanne ‘s characters is very much a typical “veteran cop,” and the French accent gives it away that she is meant to be Joan of Arc fairly early, although the film “reveals” it a lot later (although I’m not sure if it is meant to be obvious, because the writing doesn’t indicate it). Despite her being a famous historical figure, it doesn’t fails to add anything to the film or her character. Following the lore of the film, Roy and Joan look completely different to living people so they can’t be recognised, and are given the appearance of two black women. This does present an opportunity for the film to address the racism and status of black people in the Old West, but the film chooses to play it safe and does the bare minimum with it. If they’re not going to address the topic, they might as well just not bothered having it as a plot point at all.

    Every establishing shot in the film gives away that everything is a set devoid of substance beyond the camera. The effects are plain, and nothing stands out to make things interesting. The ending wraps things up in a roundabout way and addresses issues that I didn’t realise were an issue (who actually shot Roy or something). Overall, you’re not going to get anything out of this film that the original, and is far inferior in every way. Everything about the film feels cheap and uninspired, and the things that made the original entertaining are absent. Releasing ten years after the original as well means that the opportunity to ride the hype of its predecessor is long gone, leaving it alone and essentially dead on arrival.

  • Film reviews

    #574 – R.I.P.D. (2013)

    R.I.P.D. (2013)

    Film review #574

    Director: Robert Schwentke

    SYNOPSIS: Police officer Nick Walker is killed by his partner Bobby Hayes as he wants to get rid of some gold that the two found on a random drug bust. He finds himself recruited into the R.I.P.D.: The “Rest in Peace Department,” which is a supernatural force whose purpose is to hunt down people that have died and still roaming the Earth. Partnered with a veteran officer, the two discover the circumstances behind Nick’s death are tied to a much bigger plot…

    THOUGHTS/ANALYSIS: R.I.P.D. is a sci-fi action film based on the comic book of the same name. The film opens up with police officers Nick Walker (Reynolds) and Bobby Hayes (Bacon) are discussing some gold they took on a random drug bust, but kept it for themselves. Nick decides he is going to turn the gold into evidence, and Bobby decides to kill Nick at their next drug bust when no one else is around. Nick finds himself dead, but before he is whisked away to the afterlife, he is brought to the R.I.P.D. to be recruited as an officer who specialises in thwarting people who have died and are still hanging around Earth, causing them to transform into hideous creatures called “Deados.” Nick is partnered with veteran officer Roicephus “Roy” Pulsipher, who was a sheriff in the Old West before he died, and the two manage to stumble upon a plot that threatens the whole world, which they naturally have to put a stop to. The story can very easily be summed up as a combination of the films Men in Black and Ghost: you can see certain scenes are almost complete cut-and-paste jobs from these two. Alongside this, it doesn’t have either the worldbuilding or quickfire comedy of Men in Black, nor the emotional depth of Ghost, leaving a film that just completely fails to build its own identity. The plot of an ancient artifact being built that will wipe out the Earth is basically the plot to every Men in Black film. It feels like the script was just finished at it’s first draft, and no one bothered to add in any specific details or worldbuilding to give it some depth. Despite the criticisms, the film actually does a good job of avoiding any boring exposition, and just jumps right into everything and explaining things as it goes. Part of this might be because there’s not much to actually explain, but at least the film manages to keep momentum going over the rather short runtime of just over ninety minutes.

    The characters are very much what you would expect: Ryan Reynolds is Ryan Reynolds: it doesn’t matter what the name of the actual character, because he’s just playing the same character he always does. Jeff Bridges playing Old West lawman Roeciphus “Roy” Pulsipher is certainly the stand out performance. Again, he’s not got much depth beyond being the “grizzled veteran” type, but it’s guaranteed fun every time he is on screen. Kevin Bacon as the villain is unremarkable, and Nick’s wife Julia barely leaves a mark. As mentioned, the film lacks and seems to avoid the emotional depth that would have made their relationship and the significance of Nick’s death a solid plot point. Even if it was, it wouldn’t have been any different from the plot of Ghost (again, as mentioned). The film doesn’t seem to know what it wants its audience to be: it doesn’t have the established jokes and wit to be a comedy movie for young adults, the lack of emotional drama for older adults, and is a bit too adult for younger viewers, so the film just rushes straight through the middle with nothing sticking to it.

    It’s difficult to find something else to say about the film, because there’s not much content to comment on. The film was blasted for being derivative of other films and a box office bomb, making nowhere near its budget upon release. However, I don’t think it’s all bad: sure, it has no substance, but it’s paced well, and maintains its momentum and energy through to make it a pretty entertaining film with no lulls. R.I.P.D. is the epitome of mindless cinematic entertainment that brings nothing new or significant to the table, but a short bit of fun if you’re in the mood.