R.I.P.D. (2013)

R.I.P.D.Release Date: July 19, 2013. Director: Robert Schwentke. Stars: Jeff Bridges, Ryan Reynolds, Kevin Bacon. Runtime: 96 min.

A recently slain cop joins a team of undead police officers working for the Rest in Peace Department, that hunt Deados (ugly spirits who slipped through the cracks of the system and are now rotting on earth), and tries to find the man who murdered him.

It isn’t truly fair to compare films; but with “R.I.P.D.,” it’s nearly impossible to not make comparisons to the “Men in Black” franchise. They’re both buddy action comedies. Cops from both films battle otherworldly beings. The characters are similar, even if the character arcs are different. (More on that later.) There is one fundamental difference: The “Men in Black” franchise is smart, funny and fun; while “R.I.P.D.” is only one of those things. (Note: The “MIB” comparisons stop here, for the most part.)

Unoriginality and laziness are a few of the main problems that plague this film. The story is a basic save-the-world narrative. The story also isn’t enthralling, and there are few surprises in this safe feature. At one point, when the film seems to be holding a potentially awesome reveal for the end, it cowers away and restrains itself. The movie is never boring because there’s a lot going on and it’s loud. Its goofy tone helps it to be moderately fun. It’s never downright hilarious because, as much as The Dude and Van Wilder try, the writers don’t write many great jokes for them to deliver. The last time director Robert Schwentke made a comic book a movie (“Red”), it ended being a great success. This movie can’t be a great success, because this moderately entertaining time-waster is insanely disposable.

A fair deal of the content is chuckle-worthy throughout and the fact that the movie doesn’t take itself seriously is welcome. There’s only one laugh-out-loud moment, delivered by Jeff Bridges. Bridges is the most amusing part of the film, playing a cop who thinks he is the best lawman to ever live and die. He’s doing his best impersonation of John Wayne’s Rooster Cogburn. He is the most memorable part of the movie – because for audiences, it will be fun to impersonate his impersonation of Cogburn. Ryan Reynolds is okay, his character’s arc is interesting; he hasn’t yet come to terms with his unexpected death, because he didn’t get closure with his wife (Stephanie Szostak). However, this thought-out arc almost feels strange in such a silly movie.

“R.I.P.D.” is just forgettable. It’s hard on the eyes, because the darkly tinted glasses make the ugly 3-D effects even worse. (If you do end up seeing this, do yourself a favour and watch it in 2-D.) The Deados are also hard on the eyes because they’re so damn ugly, and not in the awesomely ugly way some creatures are, like in “Pacific Rim.” They’re all a bit too similar, too, even the underwhelming leader. One of the coolest things about the movie are the guns. However, they look like they’re stolen from the set of “MIB.”

It’s amusing when we get to see the avatars of Reynolds and Bridges. Reynolds appears to the real world as an Asian man (James Hong, “Balls of Fury”) shooting a banana, instead of a gun. Bridges appears as a supermodel (Marisa Miller) who, appropriately, everyone gawks at while Marvin Gaye plays over the soundtrack. (Those scenes are chuckle-worthy, and it’s where the writers show shades of cleverness.) It would be welcome to see entire sequences with the characters’ respective avatars, rather than only the bit-sized periods of time they are on-screen. It’s distracting to constantly see the characters go from Bridges to Miller; from Reynolds to Hong.

If you see “R.I.P.D.,” you might or might not like it, but you surely won’t care if you ever see it again. Suffice to say, you could see worse this summer (“Grown Ups 2“), but you could see so much better. Or you could even re-watch “Men in Black.” This movie will struggle to linger in the mind, because it will be known as that one movie that’s a lot like “Men in Black,” but isn’t “Men in Black.”

Score50/100

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“The Conjuring” scares a big audience, Snails and Retired Spies do okay, “R.I.P.D.” bombs hard

New releases from the weekend that are still on my watchlist: The ConjuringR.I.P.D.Red 2Turbo. So, all of them!

I’ve realized that I haven’t been a good box office analyst. I’ve been posting my predictions, but neglecting to report the results. This weekend, I’ll change that. At the beginning of 2013, it was looking like this year wouldn’t even match up to 2012 – but it’s catching up at a rapid rate. Through June, 2013 was 2.1% behind 2012. As of the end of this weekend, it is behind 1.1%. That is impressive considering this weekend was 19% behind last year, as “The Dark Knight Rises” single-handedly grossed $160.8 million. It’s looking like 2013 could match 2012’s number with some big blockbusters still to come: “The Wolverine”, “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug”, and “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” this fall, to name a few. Anyway, let’s get to this weekend.

“Turbo” opened to $21.3 million and has earned $31 million through its first five days. That’s the worst opening for a DreamWorks Animation since 2006’s “Wallace and Gromit”, and it’s even less than last year’s “Rise of the Guardians“. It could have legs because of its rewarded ‘A’ Cinemascore, but family audiences chose those yellow minions again (“DM2” earned $24.9 million this weekend) over snail racing. DreamWorks can only hope that snail racing is big overseas. I guess at least this poor outing says “The Smurfs 2” might not do so grandly, as family audiences have only so much money to spend in a month. (But since it opens at the very beginning of August, it might not be affected.)

“The Conjuring” was the big winner this weekend with a huge $41.8 million opening, so take that “The Purge“! It is now the second-largest opening weekend for an R-rated horror movie behind “Paranormal Activity 2”. That’s great for it because it looks really scary and I want to see it. It had a great marketing campaign, it looked terrifying, and people turned out to see it. It also came at a time where there were no horror movies on the market (well besides “The Purge” which is now only in 156 theatres). It will have great box office legs, because it was rewarded an ‘A-‘ Cinemascore, which, for the horror genre, is super rare.

“Red 2” had a soft opening with $18 million. The first movie grossed $21.7 million in its opening, so it seems that audiences thought it looked too similar to its predecessor, a problem “The Expendables 2” faced. I was optimistic with my prediction of $25 million because I thought that since it had really high DVD sales and the first had great legs, “Red 2” would do better business. I was wrong by $7 million. I didn’t factor in that the older audiences that this is aimed at is perfectly content to either wait for the DVD or go during the week when the crowds aren’t as big. Dang it! (By the way, I’ll probably be posting my review of “Red” soon.)

The only movie I was really close with was “R.I.P.D.”, which is standing at 11% on Rotten Tomatoes. I’m seeing it tomorrow, because I like to see everything, but audiences just were not interested in this “Men in Black” rip-off as it only debuted to $12.69 million. (I predicted $12.8M, woo-hoo!) And its budget was $130 million or so. Talk about one of the biggest bombs in recent memory! “Red 2” was its direct competition and that one came out on top. I think this movie looks fun, but audiences just didn’t bite. I’m not surprised one bit.

Here’s how the Top 10 performed! And if you missed any of my reviews, just click on the link to read it.

Title: Result/Prediction/Difference (Over/Under)
1. “The Conjuring”: $41.855M/$37.5M/$4.355M under
2. “Despicable Me 2: $24.906M/$22.473M/$2.433M under
3. “Turbo”: $21.312M/$28.8M/$7.488M over
4. “Grown Ups 2”: $19.872M/$19.5M/$372, 000 under
5. “Red 2”: $18.048M/$25M/$6.952M over
6. “Pacific Rim: $16.002M/$19.825M/$3.823 over
7. “R.I.P.D.”: $12.691M/$12.8M/$109, 000 over
8. “The Heat: $9.303M/$9.025M/$278, 000 under
9. “World War Z: $5.191M/NA/NA
10. “Monsters University: $5.121M/$6M/$879, 000 over

For the four new releases, I was off by a grand total of: $18, 904, 000

For the five holdovers I predicted in the top 10, I was off by a grand total of: $7, 785, 000

Did any of you go to the theatre this weekend? I saw “Grown Ups 2” on Saturday, don’t ask me why. Expect the review tomorrow. 

My most anticipated movies of July

Hi everyone, this is my post for the movies I’m most anticipating this month. I’m going to leave out the ones I’m not anticipating (but will be seeing), because who wants to write a paragraph about a movie they’re not particularly passionate about? (I’m talking about you, GROWN UPS 2.) I’ll be writing reviews about those said movies, but that’s for another day – and I love writing reviews. So, that’s good, then. I’ll start with a few thoughts on the movies I can wait for, but I am looking forward to watching.

Fruitvale Station (7/12)

Fruitvale Station (7/12)

Plot: The true story of Oscar, a 22-year-old Bay Area resident, who crosses paths with friends, enemies, family, and strangers on the last day of 2008.

I like a good bio pic and a good emotional drama, so I’m intrigued by this. It also has critics raving, so I’m hoping it’s good. I thought Michael B. Jordan is great in CHRONICLE, and I like Octavia Spencer in just about anything.

Red 2 (7/19)

Red 2 (7/19)

Plot: Retired black-ops CIA agent Frank Moses reunites his unlikely team of elite operatives for a global quest to track down a missing portable nuclear device.

I can mostly wait for this one because I haven’t seen the first. I own it, so I’ll watch that this week or next or something, and then maybe I’ll be a bit more excited about this one. I love a good crime comedy, and the cast intrigues me.

R.I.P.D. (7/19)

R.I.P.D. (7/19)

Plot: A recently slain cop joins a team of undead police officers working for the Rest in Peace Department and tries to find the man who murdered him.

I don’t know if this will be a box office hit – but it does look very amusing. I love the first and third MIB movies, so I’m pretty intrigued by this. It looks fun, and Jeff Bridges has many great one-liners in the trailer.

The To Do List (J7/26)

The To Do List (7/26)

Plot: Feeling pressured to become more sexually experienced before she goes to college, Brandy Clark makes a list of things to accomplish before hitting campus in the fall.

This looks like a predictable comedy, but it does look very funny. I like EASY A a lot, and this seems to have similar awkward humour. I’m curious to see how Aubrey Plaza will do in her first leading lady role. (I’ve seen a few episodes of TV’s PARKS AND RECREATION and it’s just hilarious.) There are some real laugh-out loud moments in the trailer, especially Clark Gregg’s thoughts on taking the back door.

Turbo (7/17)

Turbo (7/17)

Plot: A freak accident might just help an everyday garden snail achieve his biggest dream: winning the Indy 500.

I like the voice cast and the simple thought of Ken Jeong voicing a little Asian grandma makes me giggle. This looks like DreamWorks Animation’s answer to CARS and FAST & FURIOUS, and maybe even RATATOUILLE (instead of rats and cooking, it’s snails and racing). I think the idea’s just as silly as Stuart Little playing soccer, I mean, this little snail is probably going to get run over. I think I’ll enjoy the movie a lot, regardless.

The Wolverine (7/26)

The Wolverine (7/26)

Plot: Wolverine makes a voyage to modern-day Japan, where he encounters an enemy from his past that will impact on his future.

This looks pretty cool. I’m not huge on superhero movies, but I do enjoy the X-MEN movies. I’ll have to have a marathon soon to pump up for this one a bit more. It looks good, but it could be so much better if Darren Aronofsky really did end up directing it. I guess I’m really just hoping it’s better than X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE.

Now these are the ones I’m really excited for. 

5. Pacific Rim (7/12)

5. Pacific Rim (7/12)

Plot: When an alien attack threatens the Earth’s existence, giant robots piloted by humans are deployed to fight off the menace.

I think this looks awesome. I haven’t seen any GODZILLA movies, but I like a good monster movie. And, this is monsters AND robots. Whoa. It sounds like it could be everything BATTLESHIP and TRANSFORMERS aspired to be. Lots of fun, and well-made. And Del Toro is at the helm! I might have to re-watch CLOVERFIELD and find a GODZILLA movie online this week to get a bit more excited. It seems action-packed, and frankly, I want to see the movie right now, and not just the trailer. But I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of hearing Idris Elba shout, “Today we are cancelling the apocalypse!”

3. Only God Forgives (7/19)

4. Only God Forgives (7/19)

Plot: Julian, a drug-smuggler thriving in Bangkok’s criminal underworld, sees his life get even more complicated when his mother compels him to find and kill whoever is responsible for his brother’s recent death.

I love Ryan Gosling and the director, Nicholas Winding Refn, and DRIVE is one of my favourite movies of 2011. The story intrigues me, as well. While critics haven’t exactly been praising the movie, I think it could be pretty awesome. It might be wavering my expectations ever-so-slightly, but I’m still really looking forward to it.

3. The Conjuring (7/19)

3. The Conjuring (7/19)

Plot: Paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren work to help a family terrorized by a dark presence in their farmhouse. Forced to confront a powerful entity, the Warrens find themselves caught in the most terrifying case of their lives.

I think James Wan is a fantastic director. I’ll have to watch INSIDIOUS to get a vibe of his atmospheric haunting flicks, though. This looks absolutely terrifying, and while I’ll probably be watching the movie through the my fingers, I can hardly wait. Vera Farmiga is great, too. The trailer creeps the hell out of me, and I love it. The true story edge is even spookier – so, I just want it to be July 19 already. It would be great if this will birth a Warren files franchise.

2. The Way, Way Back (7/5)

2. The Way, Way Back (7/5)

Plot: 14-year-old Duncan’s summer vacation with his mother, her overbearing boyfriend, and his daughter. Having a rough time fitting in, Duncan finds an unexpected friend in Owen, manager of the Water Wizz water park.

I love a good coming-of-age tale. THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER is my second-favourite movie of 2012. And THE DESCENDANTS is one of my favourite movies of 2011. Two of the Oscar-winning writers from that movie (Nat Faxon, supporting actor in most of the Broken Lizard movies, and Jim Rash, the Dean on TV’s COMMUNITY) co-write and direct this one. I love the cast so much. Steve Carrell as a major jerk, Sam Rockwell, Rash in a supporting role, AnnaSophia Robb, and Rob Corddry, Toni Colette and Allison Janney. Suffice to say, it sounds amazing – and I can hardly wait for this to come to my city.

1. Despicable Me 2 (7/3)

1. Despicable Me 2 (7/3)

Plot: Gru is recruited by the Anti-Villain League to help deal with a powerful new super criminal.

I love the original DESPICABLE ME 2. This sequel looks amazing and hilarious. I can hardly wait for it. I love Gru and the minions, and I think this will be a real winner with a lot of heart and some great action. And new villains, of course. This is not only my most anticipated movie of July – but it’s probably my most anticipated movie of the year. (But, I’ll have to make a list to see if that’s true. I might be a bit more excited for KICK-ASS 2.) I can’t wait to have a second helping of the minion madness, though. Anything under a score of 75 will be disappointing. I hope this is in the same league as the first.

Here’s all of the movies opening in July: http://www.imdb.com/movies-coming-soon/2013-07/

The Watch (2012)

WatchThe Watch

Release Date: July 27, 2012

Director: Akiva Schaffer

Stars: Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill

Runtime: 102 min

Tagline: Got protection?

In the town of Glenview, Ohio, Evan is the store manager of the local Costco. He is guilt-stricken after his night watchman, Antonio Guzman, gets mysteriously murdered in his store. Because of this, he constructs a neighbourhood watch with middle-aged Bob (Vince Vaughn); the guy with all the mental problems, Franklin (Jonah Hill); and the British dude whose parents couldn’t give him a logical name, Jamarcus (Richard Ayoade). Their initial purpose is to protect the neighbourhood from the baddies and instil justice wherever possible and find the killer of Antonio; but their purpose soon alters into being protectors of the whole earth, who must stop a gang of skin-stealing aliens from taking over the entire planet as we know it!

This little gang might as well be the alien-versing version of the Ghostbusters, but they don’t have a catchy jingle or cool gadgets. Excluding that cool orb they acquire from the opposing side. The aliens might as well be the other-worldly weird country cousins of Leatherface who take the body’s skin instead of just the face. So, it’s Alienbusters vs. Alien Leatherbodies. That sounds promising, or maybe even a little, dare I say, scary; right? Wrong. The only thing scary about this feature is its staggering waste of potential.

Do any of you remember last year’s surprise British hit, Attack the Block? I’m convinced Stern, Rogen and Goldberg were inspired by that flick to make a more successful American alien comedy. If this is the case, it was an ambitious idea at best, but the end product is not rewarding. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of the two writers (Rogen & Goldberg) involved in this project, but it simply isn’t in the right hands.

Maybe don’t allow Akiva Schaffer, director of SNL digital shorts and Hot Rod, direct this film. Next time, get someone with a bit more experience in directing: Jay Roach, a man who has dabbled in directing comedy (Austin Powers franchise, Meet the Parents and its two sequels) and producing science fiction (The Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy). And get some funny consultants, maybe Judd Apatow or Kevin Smith. Then again, I don’t have any power in Hollywood. I just enjoy my crude humour to be usually funny. And the laughs it does offer are limited and far between each other.

The premise of this is promising: mashing a good old sci-fi story of protecting the world from invaders with a great buddy (plus a few) comedy sounds great. It doesn’t turn out to be as great. In fact, it doesn’t really even turn out to be good. There wasn’t a lot of thought put into the story, as it only offers a few original ideas. The actors on their own are usually funny (Vaughn, Hill, Forte and frequent TV actor Ayoade in particular, sometimes Stiller), but when they come together, all of them don’t look like they’re having the most fun in the world. Or in the galaxy. Ayode looks like he’s having a blast most of the time; Forte is making the best of an unfunny character; Vaughn is trying to make the best of it; and Stiller and Hill (who is probably the funniest of the bunch) look like they want their freaking paychecks already. Well, boys, while watching The Watch, I often just want the end credits to roll.

In a nutshell: The Watch wastes the opportunity to do something with a nice but not original premise. The writing, character development and some of the actors wanting to be done with this project don’t complement the initial good idea at hand. The end product offers something to be desired in both the comedy (there’s only a few laugh-out-loud moments) and science fiction departments. It really is not as good as you’ll want it to be.

45/100

Men in Black 3 (2012)

Men in Black 3

Men in Black 3

Release Date: May 25, 2012

Director: Barry Sonnenfeld

Stars: Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin

Runtime: 106 min

Tagline: This summer, he’ll have to find the answers… in time.

Men in Black, talk about a series that has given us numerous aesthetically unpleasing creatures.

After Boris the Animal, the last of the extinct Boglodite species, escapes from a high-security prison on the moon, he causes much distress for Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) and Agent J (Will Smith). He goes back in time to eliminate the person who arrested him, and took his arm – Agent K. When Agent J learns of this, he goes back in time to stop Boris from killing K, in order to restore the timeline and history itself.

Within a few minutes, J starts to gain the trust of the Young K (Josh Brolin). They set out to track down Boris, the wickedly ugly alien who started this whole quagmire in the first place. They follow a series of clues, that eventually leads them to a Griffin, an innocent-looking creature that can see many different timelines that aren’t visible to the human eye. J learns that he is not only hiding some things from K, but that K is also hiding a few things from him. With this whole experience, they must learn to communicate and enhance their trust even more.

Oh, what a privilege this film is. For those lovers of the classic original, they will fully appreciate this, because we all get to see Agent J and Agent K’s relationship build all over again! It’s obvious that the younger K has no clue of any part of J’s life, because J is his future partner. Though, for J, it’s a whole different story. J may have gotten to be with K as a partner for fourteen years, but K never really opens up to him. He’s given a chance to try to get to know him, when he was at least fun. Boy, oh boy, is Josh Brolin’s imitation of Tommy Lee Jones ever fun! He hit that impersonation spot-on. He might as well be one of those comedians that could impersonate just about anyone.

In terms of memorable sequences and a memorable story, this is a little better than the original. Also, this certainly obliterates the Men in Black 2. It’s so fine, that most fans will just totally dismiss the first sequel as a fart in the wind (or, they’ll just dismiss it as if Will Smith just used his neuralizer on them). This is a great instalment to the series. It gives those sci-fi alien fans of the 1997 classic a trip to nostalgia-land, while it gives an awesome taste of alien comedy and action to the new generation. Oh yeah, and they just had to put in 3D. Damn money grabbers. Regardless, this is a series that has delivered us* both comedy and a superb load of action.

* no, not from evil – well, I guess from evil aliens! 

For anyone who has not seen the original or its sequel, never fear – you’ll be able to follow this with ease. This is a stand-alone sequel. Though, it might be a smart idea to watch the other two. The emotional scenes in this feature won’t be nearly as effective for those newcomers to this magnificent series (with the exclusion of the second, but no one needs to remember you, you little wayward ass). Sure, you may get a little emotional, but there is no way you’ll be as sad as a series veteran. You are only beginning to know Agent J and Agent K. And the majority of the film, one’s the future guy and the other is the past man. But those who have seen every film in the series, they have taken a three-film journey with these characters – and they are much more emotionally invested with them than you are.

Josh Brolin impersonates Lee Jones so well, if you weren’t looking at the screen, you might get into a heated battle with someone saying “That is so Tommy Lee Jones speaking!” vs “That is Josh Brolin!” Also, the chemistry between Brolin and Smith is so fine, you may just swear they’ve been doing the films together all along.

Men in Black 3 owns a good story and some awesome action sequences. It also owns an overly comical villain, but that is probably his purpose. Someone could easily get emotionally invested into the characters of J and K, to a point where they feel like real people. Well, if one can accept the unreal premise of them being professional alien “police”. It’s an entertaining sequel that, essentially, offers a good time and a nice nostalgic trip. It’s nothing bigger than that, but it certainly isn’t anything less.

80/100