We love to wax nostalgic at PoP!, but sometimes it’s what’s yet to come that most quickens our nerd pulses. For better or for worse, let’s start the speculation over what’s making us Future Tense.
For months, countless movie geeks and bloggers have speculated and prognosticated about which of the several films offered up during the Summer Movie Season will connect with audiences. As usual, most of the more high-profile releases such as Iron Man 3, Star Trek: Into Darkness, Fast and the Furious 6, and The Hangover Part III either have or will likely hit big at the box office based on how their predecessors fared. Other highly-anticipated sequels and/or reboots such as Man of Steel and The Wolverine are a little iffier because of past films that were not as well-received but will more than likely make a decent showing. The more “original” Summer Movies (or at least those based on properties that are new to general audiences) are a little harder to pin down, mostly because they don’t have the name recognition of the bigger movie franchises. Usually for one of these movies to hit big, it has to actually be good enough to generate interest and positive word of mouth among audiences for it to compete against the sequels and remakes. Sometimes this model works, but in most cases they are largely ingored by the general moviegoing public and quickly ousted from theaters. One of the more interesting of the “smaller” genre movies coming out this summer is R.I.P.D., which opens on July 19th. Judging from the movie’s trailer, it could potentially be an exciting fantasy/comedy in the vein of Men In Black, or it could be an unsuccessful genre mashup such as last year’s The Watch or 2011’s Cowboys and Aliens.
The plot synopsis of R.I.P.D. makes it sound like a combination of Men In Black and Ghostbusters, which could help or hurt the film depending on how successfully it balances the comedic moments with its genre tropes. Based on a Dark Horse comic created by Peter M. Lenkov, R.I.P.D. stars Ryan Reynolds as Nick Walker, a police officer who is killed in the line of duty and, while crossing into the spirit world, is drafted by an elite team of undead police officers to help hunt down rogue ghosts who attempt to cross back into the mortal world and try to wreak havoc there. He is paired up with veteran R.I.P.D. officer Roy Pulsipher, played by Jeff Bridges, looking and sounding like a somewhat cleaned-up version of his Rooster Cogburn character from 2010’s True Grit. Walker and Pulsipher are sent back to Earth in mortal disguises that look nothing like their true ghostly forms, which judging by the trailer should contribute to most of the film’s attempts at humor.
The plot synopsis and trailer for R.I.P.D. invite obvious comparisons to the Men In Black series. Both feature an inexperienced protagonist teaming up with a more experienced and slightly mysterious veteran to hunt down monsters hiding in the “real world.” The only real difference here is that the characters in R.I.P.D. are actually ghosts impersonating real people. Some have argued that this movie will fail mostly because it looks too similar to Men In Black and that Jeff Bridges and Ryan Reynolds aren’t marketable enough to headline a potential blockbuster. I don’t disagree with these predictions, since the trailer itself does seem a duller retread of things we’ve seen before, but the premise itself has the potential to give audiences a fun story. Perhaps a movie isn’t the best venue for this kind of story, especially since it’s been handled before within that medium. Since it is based on a monthly comic book, this is a story that would probably be best suited for television, though of course that would mean completely recasting it with less familiar actors, which I’m sure the producers of R.I.P.D. are convinced will be the main draw to the movie. There is also the issue of the movie’s release date, which is right in the middle of Summer, after most of the bigger releases have been out for a while. Whether this will be to R.I.P.D.‘s benefit remains to be seen. Regardless, it will be interesting to see whether the early naysayers have a point or if R.I.P.D. will be that rare genre sleeper that actually finds an audience in the heavily competitive Summer Movie Season.