"R.I.P.D." is DOA.
There are the recently dead instead of aliens and a cantankerous Jeff Bridges instead of Tommy Lee Jones, but this is nothing more than a cheap, lifeless knockoff of "Men In Black." The only thing standing in the way of a copyright infringement lawsuit is that Ryan Reynolds was cast to play the new recruit rather than Chris Rock or Kevin Hart.
Reynolds -- who can also be heard this weekend turning in bland voice work in "Turbo" -- plays Nick, a generally good cop who has made a few mistakes. When he gets shot in the face by his crooked partner, Hayes (Kevin Bacon), Nick finds himself part of the Rest In Peace Department. His job is to round up those who have died but managed to find a way to avoid final judgment.
Nick's partnered with Roy (Bridges), a former Wild West lawman who talks like he was the third runner-up in a Yosemite Sam soundalike contest. It's up to the new partners to save the world from total destruction -- a very common theme in movies this summer.
Director Robert Schwentke obviously knew he had little to work with in the script by the numerous writers who tried to adapt the Dark Horse comic. He loads the movie with odd camera tricks such as shooting scenes from weird angles and having the camera make odd treks to finally get to the scene. If only the story had been as different as some of his camera work, the film would have showed some signs of life.
Schwentke should have spent less time with the camera and a little more time with the special effects. When any of the walking dead reveal their true form, they hulk out into large ugly beasts. The computer-generated animation to create these creatures is so weak it looks like they were made with an Etch A Sketch. Stick figures would have been an improvement.
That could be why Reynolds looks bored and Bridges acts like he's in a completely different movie. The film's only good joke is that the recently dead never look like they did when they were alive. The living public sees Roy as a Victoria's Secret model (Marisa Miller) and Nick as an old Asian man (James Hong). Bridges and Reynolds are so disconnected to the movie, it would have been a far funnier film to watch Miller and Hong tracking down the deadly dead.
Forget that. The film's so uninspired that Bill O'Reilly and President Barack Obama could have played the parts and it would still be as cold as a zombie's heart. And, adding insult to injury is the 3-D that is so bad it now stands for Dull, Dark and Disappointing.
The best thing that can be done with "R.I.P.D." is to give it a proper burial and pray there's no sequel.
"R.I.P.D.," rated PG-13 for language, sexual content, violence. Stars Ryan Reynolds, Jeff Bridges, Kevin Bacon, James Hong. Directed by Robert Schwentke. Running time: 1 hour, 36 minutes. Grade: D-
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TV and movie critic Rick Bentley can be reached at (559) 441-6355, email@example.com or @RickBentley1 on Twitter. Read his blog at fresnobeehive.com.