The official trailer for upcoming movie R.I.P.D. hit the internet last week, and sparked a stampede of people rushing to label the supernatural buddy cop romp as stepping a little too neatly into the swanky shoes of the Men in Black. Some went so far as to write R.I.P.D. off as a poor MiB rip-off. Here’s why they’re wrong.
Okay, so looking at the actual trailer, the argument for R.I.P.D. being a MiB clone is actually pretty strong. Dagnabbit. But wait. There are two reasons the comparison is flawed. But let’s look at the similarities first.
First up, yes we have the pairing of young hotshot cop (Ryan Reynolds) with grizzly old veteran (Jeff Bridges) who is heading for retirement. But Old Cop, Young Cop is hardly distinct to MiB and I don’t think describing anyone as a “white Will Smith” is a terrific idea. We have a supernatural world (demons vs aliens), a corporate workplace and a sarcastic boss. Ron Swanson style bosses are not uncommon; ones that are also Mary-Louise Parker sadly are. Both films have people using secret identities, which is a fairly popular trick for undercover operatives that don’t like to announce who they are to the world (I’m looking at you Bond). The next similarity is again the supernatural with demons stated as being a copy of aliens, but, and I can’t stress this enough, this one is bullshit. We’ll come back to that one.
And finally, both films use cool cars, guns and have to save the world. Which is like no other film ever I guess? Apart from a huge number of other sci-fi films. Hell, even Blade fits into a fair few of these similarities.
Anyway, back to my two reasons why holding up R.I.P.D. as an MiB rip-off is flawed. Firstly, because we’re comparing a trailer with a full movie – a movie that pulled in half a billion dollars worldwide. Now that is a movie worth trying to put into your potential paying viewers head. “Come see this film, it’s just like that other film you totally loved.” For further examples of this ploy see every film in the last three years that has a trailer with the Inception BRAAAAAAHHHMMM sound in it – the one idea from that film that actually did attach itself like a parasite to our entire society. But hey, no, I’m sure films like Battleship really are just like Inception. At least, that’s what the production people want you to think, and once you’ve paid your hard earned money you can stumble out into the sun wondering why Rihanna and Eric Northman were on a boat with not a suited Leo in sight.
What do you mean the BRAAAAAAHHHMMM is in the R.I.P.D. trailer too? Shush.
Secondly, while Cracked remain one of my favourite procrastination sites (I am indeed a complete After Hours fangirl) they did miss one rather important detail in their brutal smackdown of R.I.P.D.: it is based on a comic, an original creation from back in 1999. Sure that’s still after the 1997 Will Smith hit, but it’s interesting that MiB was also a comic. In fact Men in Black stands as one of the shining examples of a film adaptation that took some key components of its source material, threw the rest out the window, and went on to enjoy great success.
This miss is pretty key. Not only does the R.I.P.D. comic further explain that the grotesque creatures in the trailer are not ghosts but demons escaped from hell (though I thought this was pretty clear, “bad souls that escape judgement”), but the MiB comic also has the agents dealing with demons and supernatural bad guys. Interestingly, the MiB comic also tends to favour just outright killing inconvenient humans rather than saving them from aliens. With shotguns, because they’re “louder and messier”. Also, J is white. I know, right?!
In short, the trailer may be working overtime to draw our attention to how much we will love this film if we loved Men in Black (because we all know that those who do not love this film are obviously aliens), and the original comic clearly falls into many of the most common action and sci-fi tropes, but you know what? The comic is damn fun. A four issue miniseries that really deserved an ongoing run, and that tone-wise has very little in common with its much darker “City of the Damned” follow up that came some 13 years later.
Ryan Reynolds was in Green Lantern I know, a near-fatal mistake on his path to Deadpool glory, but I can’t see how a supernatural buddy cop film with him and grumpy cowboy Jeff Bridges blowing demons to bit could possibly be un-fun. And if the film does prove successful, Reynolds has already stated he’d be well up for a sequel.
R.I.P.D. is in fact a pretty good comic, and luckily enough Dark Horse reprinted the trade collection last month, in plenty of time for the film’s July 19 release date. In brief – and as non-spoilery as possible – the comic opens with a maverick detective Nick Cruz meeting his maker on the job and being hauled off for questioning on his way to the pearly gates. He’s been murdered, in cold blood and despite his obvious rugged good looks and insane cop skills. Would he like the chance to solve his own murder? Just sign here, don’t mind the small print… and boom! Nick is a member of the Rest in Peace Department, a police department that cleans up supernatural mess, and gives you the chance to find justice. All for only one hundred years service. And a cranky near-retirement gunslinger from the Old West for a partner.
The demons are mostly thick as mince but keep escaping into the mortal world, causing havoc and mayhem and general Pandemonium. Which is where they come from, Hell’s capital city (and demons walking amongst us is of course a much older myth than aliens). Amongst the action packed splatterfest the comic packs a surprising emotional punch as Nick uncovers the truth behind his own demise, but it’s definitely on the lighter side of Ten Grand (read that too!). Or even of the Men in Black comic which is more than a little depressing.
R.I.P.D. is out in July, also stars Kevin Bacon and Marisa Miller, and is directed by Robert Schwentke who was at the helm of another successful comic book adaptation, Red.
Writer: Peter M. Lenkov
Penciller: Lucas Marangon
Inker: Randy Emberlin
Colourist: David Nestelle
Cover Artists: Lucas Marangon, Randy Emberlin
Letters: Steve Dutro
Publisher: Dark Horse
Released: Out now!