RIPD 2 review: A surprise Netflix prequel improves on the original | Jobi Cool

The team behind the surprising spin-off RIPD 2: Rise of the Damned Understands one cardinal rule of prequels: they should stand on their own, instead of endlessly calling back to the film that spawned them. That’s the only way to avoid making a film that speaks primarily to the most devoted fans. Rise of the DamnedThe creators of probably understood this because the original RIPD does not is Any fan. Enough time has passed since 2013’s unheralded release that it may be no more than a dim memory to anyone on Earth. (It’s currently streaming on HBO Max, for those who are curious and/or understandably forgetful.)

If RIPD Inspires a flicker of memory, this could probably be done with Ryan Reynolds’ buddy-action duo, his many pre-Deadpool tries to jump into a franchise based on the comics, and Jeff Bridges, then his True grit Cowboy persona. The premise, taken from the Dark Horse comics series, is originally Men in Black passed over unnecessarily Ghostbusters: In the Afterlife, a contemporary cop (Reynolds) teams up with Old West Sheriff Roy Pulsifer (Bridges) to return to Earth and track down “dedos” – deranged spirits with human bodies.

Apparently those stars aren’t returning for this direct-to-streaming prequel, which leaves only the knowledge of this universe to the audience. It’s an origin story of sorts for Roy — though it’s easy to forget it’s the same character, because lead actor Jeffrey Donovan, the star Notice to burn, makes no attempt to imitate Bridge’s cotton, tobacco-stained drawl, or fake 19th-century cowboy affect, really. Whereas Old Roy was the gunslinger in the Saturday morning cartoons, Young Roy is the kind you’d find in a local TV commercial during the cartoon’s commercial break. Donovan seems tentatively committed to the part. (It’s entirely possible that, like most people, he hasn’t seen the original RIPD.)

Dead Sheriff Roy (Jeffrey Donovan) looks suspicious as he and his more experienced, black-leather-clad ghost-hunting partner Jeanne (Penelope Mitchell) watch something offscreen in RIPD 2: Rise of the Damned.

Photo: Joel Beck/Universal Pictures

Killed during a train robbery in 1876, Roy is sent to the afterlife and teams up with veteran dado-buster Jeanne (Penelope Mitchell), a sword-toting badass. Although Roy has never seemed disheartened by his fate, he still wants revenge on Slim (Jake Choi), whom he believes is responsible for his death. (None of this has much square with what the original movie says about Roy’s death, but who cares?) Roy and Jean’s RIPD assignment is to stop Otis Clairborne (Richard Brake) from unleashing an army of angry souls from Hell. of the world as we know it, etc. Naturally, Roy’s personal vendetta is tied to world-ending stakes.

It’s all crap, but it’s crap that improves on its predecessor, at least aesthetically: Reimagining RIPD As the West lowers its status a Men in Black A knock-off, while giving the action some novelty and basic ability. When the special effects arrive, they’re mostly simple squiggles of smoke and light, but the movie never descends into a green-screen nightmare full of ugly CG characters like the first one did. Instead, director and co-writer Paul Leyden (dog fight) uses old-fashioned set design, costumes and lighting to set the scene, rather than the addition of computer guns. It’s not exactly a feast for the eyes: it’s still a direct-to-video prequel to a franchise nonstarter. But a Western setting goes a long way to avoid the murky, fake look of many big-screen wannabe blockbusters.

what Rise of the Damned What it shares with both its predecessor and its various junk-pile ancestors is its misjudgment of the human angle. For some reason, Layden and his co-writer Andrew Klein have decided that the story’s emotional hook is Roy’s posthumous acceptance that his best possible son-in-law Angus (Richard Fleishman)… , and Roy’s daughter Charlotte (Tillie Keeper) deserve. This is true even though Charlotte spends most of the movie off-screen, and is barely on Roy’s mind when she dies. The result of Roy’s distrust of Angus is only in doubt in the sense that the audience may not believe that the movie will spend so much time on the end of such a story, especially when there is a more interesting relationship between Roy and Jeanne. He has a backstory of historical significance that the movie reveals late in the game, a bonkers touch appropriate for this type of B-movie.

An Old West prospector stares into the camera with completely black eyes as he enters RIPD 2: Rise of the Damned.

Image: Universal Pictures

All other qualities of the film do not work this well. Rachel Adedeji and Evlyne Oyedokun are given the impossibly thankless roles of playing the earthly bodies Roy and Jean inhabit—essentially, physical disguises to prevent the people they know from recognizing them. (Jean, who’s been dead for hundreds of years, shouldn’t have this problem.) It’s a conceit carried over from the first film, which cast Bridges and Reynolds as a beautiful blonde woman for outside audiences and ubiquitous character actor James Hong, respectively. That bit of business flirted with the bad taste of turning the body into a punchline, and it wasn’t even much of a joke to begin with. This version manages to be more suspenseful and even less funny: Leyden casts two black women as sight gags, so he and co-writer Andrew Klein can make eye-rolling jokes about racism without involving any actual black characters as a result. This is a stunning miscalculation.

So, it can be argued, is making RIPD 2 In the first place. It’s the kind of project that gives the lie to other movies like “nobody asked for it.” (Buzz Lightyear spin-off “No One Asked” from Oh, Dear and Everlasting Toy Story series? That film seems essential compared to its prequel later this decade, a critically panned flop vaguely similar to its fellow flop. Jonah Hex.) given how unnecessary Rise of the Damned Leyden’s choice is to undercut the original RIPDA friendly, fast-paced supernatural western of the summer movie Bomb qualifies as a rousing success. On the other hand, anyone who works RIPD Even the universe must understand the value of dying.

RIPD 2: Rise of the Damned Available to stream on Netflix or rent digitally Amazon, Vudu, and other platforms. can see First eight minutes of the movie online for free.

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