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!
Indeed the trailer is trying hard to get that MiB crowd, which is smart, but far as content, my first thought was that it reminded me of a short lived show called G vs E, or Good Vs Evil, where a reporter is killed and joins a kind of heavenly police force called the Corps hunting down demons. Except in this series the partner is played by Richard Brooks who more people probably know as Jubal Early from the Objects in Space episode of Firefly. The whole hunting demons bit is also a pretty large portion of what Hellboy and Constantine tend to do, it’s quite likely the actual movie has a totally different tone from MiB.
Sorry, but the trailer still looks like Rooster Cogburn just joined the MiB while they were taking over the Ghostbusters precinct.
Does it really matter?
Well, the fact that many don’t realise the film is based on a comic is kind of a bummer, particularly as the publisher has brought out a nice new collection of it. The media seem to have settled on “superhero film” as the only equivalent of “comic book film” which is a shame, as comics like RIPD, Judge Dredd, Sin City, Le Transperceneige etc are at least as equally worth checking out or being brought to the attention of more people.
But in the grand scheme of things it matters no more than most comics or film thoughts of course. It just seems a bit glib to write off a film as a rip-off of another without considering the source material of each.
The Gibbler – I had not heard of G vs E before but the wikipedia info on it makes it seem very intriguing: “a 1970s retro-hip style that is similar to Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction”. I may have to try and find this :D
I saw the preview for this one last weekend. Yes, it reminds me of MIB. But it has enough twists in its concept that it is more of an homage than a carbon copy. And it looks like fun.
When is Ryan Reynolds gonna be in something good?
Ryan Reynolds (and Parker Posey) is the highlight of Blade Trinity, which was nonetheless a really disappointing film. But his character in that film, alongside the brief snatches of real-Wade in Wolverine do show promise for that kind of character (as opposed to the all-round good guy he keeps trying).
Maybe this will turn his luck?
Parker Posey is a highlight of everything she’s in.
GvE is an awesome show. I was really sad when it was cancelled.
Oh, God bless you, I read the cracked article, and thought to myself, “Wow. An article calling one comic inspired movie a rip-off of ANOTHER comic inspired movie. -I- should write these, as apparently there’s -nothing to it-”
And I like cracked. I want to keep liking cracked. I cant expect them to do back story on every article they post.
So, sincerely, thank -you- for finishing what they started.
Rip off/Not a rip off, who cares? Saw the trailer & yeah it looked like MIB, but it also look FUN. That’s what matters to me, totally seeing this.
Eh I read both arguments, and I still think its closer to MiB than not-MiB. Maybe the movie will differentiate it, but just based on the trailer, I think the argument is valid that its a blatant MiB ripoff…any one of the similarities, any two or three even, you can pass off as “there are lots of movies that have that”, but put all of them together, with the visual and stylistic choices they made, and there’s just too much synchronicity to ignore.
If you dont believe me, consider a couple other “demon-hunting” movies based on comic books, Constantine and Hellboy. You put either of those movies up against MiB, they dont “feel” nearly as similiar as the RiPD trailer does – its not just comparing inevitable genre tropes.
RIPD comics released 2003. MIB released 1997. Anything using the comic argument has already failed.
Good VS Evil is the first thing I thought of, when I saw the trailer for this thing. The doing justice for the undead thing feels very similar to the show, without Clayton Rohner or Richard Brooks, both fine actors under- used today. And the “argument” is pretty solid for this. Ideas go full circle, but this movie is just a blatant rip-off of a truly original TV show concept,. Both the leads should fire their agents…
Your argument is well thought out, but none of it counters the argument that the trailer makes RIPD look like a Men in Black ripoff. Will the actual film be so similar? We can’t really say yet. The fact that they are both based on comics, and the comparison of those comics, also tells us next to nothing about the films. First, there’s the possibility that the RIPD comic took ideas from the MIB comic. Alternatively, elements in the RIPD movie that are different from the comic may be “inspired by” the MIB movies. My point is, just because a movie is based on a comic doesn’t mean significant parts of it can’t be ripped off from another movie.
Too bad you were wrong. This was pretty much MIB.
Nope, still feels like a MIB clone. That’s why it received so much ridicule and negative (nigh spiteful) ratings, which is a shame, because it’s still a fun watch regardless. I enjoyed it.
This premise is a total rip-off of Good vs. Evil. That is the first thing I thought of when I watched this! They totally stole the premise from G v. E. Loved that show–the Pates should sue.
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