Take the first Men In Black and mix liberally with Ghostbusters. Add a sprinkle of Constantine and you have an easy description of R.I.P.D., the target of much critical vitriol on its US release.
Naturally, most of those completely ignored the film’s actual origin in the Dark Horse comic that began in 1999. Killed during a raid, Nick Walker (Ryan Reynolds) finds himself drafted to the Rest In Peace Department, who use dead police officers to capture the undead who have returned to Earth. Nick finds himself partnered with 19th century US Marshal Roycephus Pulsipher (Jeff Bridges) and they uncover a plot that could change the afterlife irrevocably…
Ryan Reynolds is generally watchable in an unusually flawed character for the kind of film, but the screen belongs to Jeff Bridges who is a hoot as the Old West lawman. The conceit used whereby the R.I.P.D. officers have avatars as they can’t look the same as their dead selves in case of recognition is fun too, and the humour in general may not be highbrow but is actually pretty funny.
The 3D is surprisingly decent as well – it’s not too gimmicky and scenes like an early shootout show a good understanding of 3D space in both design and direction. Unfortunately some of the other CGI effects come across less well as the elements to make the dead look disturbing make them stand out as different so instantly look a bit wrong to the eye; it’s a bit easier to make aliens in that respect as the viewer expects them not to look so, well, human!
While it does suffer from comparison to those similarities like Ghostbusters, and is hardly intellectually challenging, R.I.P.D. is fun popcorn entertainment. And it even has a role for Kevin Bacon that’s almost enough to forget the EE adverts! ***1/2