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Surprise! RIPD 2: Rise Of The Damned Is Better Than The First RIPD

The team behind the surprising spin-off RIPD 2: Rise of the Damned understands a cardinal rule of prequels: they must stand on their own, rather than endlessly call the movie that spawned them. That’s the only way to avoid making a movie that primarily targets the most dedicated fans. rise of the damnedMost likely, the creators understand this because the original DEPID No to have any fan. Enough time has passed since its unannounced release in 2013 that it may not be more than a vague memory to anyone on Earth. (It’s currently streaming on HBO Max, for the curious and/or understandably forgetful.)

Yes DEPID inspires a flicker of memory, more likely to have to do with his Ryan Reynolds buddy action couple, in one of his many pre-dead pool attempts to jump into a comic book franchise, and Jeff Bridges, later capitalizing on his true grain cowboy character. The premise, taken from a Dark Horse comic series, is basically men in black redundantly crossed with Ghostbusters: In the afterlife, a contemporary cop (Reynolds) teams up with Old West sheriff Roy Pulsipher (Bridges) to return to Earth and track down the “Deados,” stray souls possessing human bodies.

Obviously, those stars won’t be returning for this streaming prequel, which simply leaves the lore of this universe as a draw for viewers. This is something of an origin story for Roy, although it’s easy to forget that he’s the same character, because lead actor Jeffrey Donovan, star of alarming news, he makes no effort to imitate Bridges’ cottony, tobacco-stained accent, or feign a 19th-century cowboy effect, for that matter. Where Old Roy was a gunslinger from a Saturday morning cartoon, Young Roy is more of the type you’d find in a local TV ad during that cartoon’s commercial breaks. Donovan seems only momentarily committed to the role. (It is quite possible that, like most people, he has not seen the original D.E.P.)

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Dead sheriff Roy (Jeffrey Donovan) looks dubious as he and his more experienced, black leather-clad ghost-hunting partner Jeanne (Penelope Mitchell) look at something off-screen in RIPD 2: Rise of the Damned

Photo: Joel Baik/Universal Pictures

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Killed during a train robbery in 1876, Roy is sent to the afterlife and paired with veteran dead-buster Jeanne (Penelope Mitchell), a sword-wielding badass. Although Roy never seems all that upset by her fate, he still wants revenge on Slim (Jake Choi), the man he believes responsible for her death. (None of this squares with what the original movie says about Roy’s death, but who would notice?) Roy and Jeanne’s RIPD task is to stop Otis Clairborne (Richard Brake) from releasing an army of angry souls from the hell, bringing about the end. of the world as we know it, etc. Naturally, Roy’s personal vendetta is intertwined with doomsday bets.

It’s all nonsense, but nonsense that improves on its predecessor, at least aesthetically: Reimagining DEPID As a Westerner, he minimizes his status as men in black imitation, while giving the action some novelty and a basic tactility. When it comes to special effects, they’re mostly generic squiggles of smoke and light, but the movie never descends into a green-screen nightmare populated by ugly CGI characters like the first one did. Instead, director and co-writer Paul Leyden (girl fight) uses outdated sets, costumes, and lighting to set the scene, rather than an excess of computer junk. Not exactly a feast for the eyes: this is still a direct-to-video prequel from a non-starter of the franchise. But the Western setting goes a long way toward avoiding the confusing, phony look of so many would-be big-screen blockbusters.

What rise of the damned he shares with both his predecessor and his various junk ancestors is a misjudgment from his human angle. For whatever reason, Leyden and his co-writer Andrew Klein have decided that the emotional hook of the story is Roy’s post-death acceptance that his son-in-law Angus (Richard Fleeshman), his perfectly likable and prospective son-in-law, is… so nice as it seems initially. , and worthy of Roy’s daughter, Charlotte (Tilly Keeper). This is true despite the fact that Charlotte spends most of the film offscreen and she barely seems to cross Roy’s mind when she dies. The result of Roy’s distrust of Angus is only in doubt in the sense that viewers may not believe that the film will spend so much time in a narrative dead end, especially when the most interesting relationship is between Roy and Jeanne. She has a historically significant backstory that the movie reveals at the end of the game, a wacky touch that’s perfect for this kind of B-movie.

An emaciated and harried looking Old West gold prospector stares into the camera with pitch black eyes after being possessed in RIPD 2: Rise of the Damned

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Image: Universal Images

Not all of the other movie quirks work as well. Rachel Adedeji and Evlyne Oyedokun are cast in the impossibly ungrateful roles of playing the earthly bodies that Roy and Jeanne inhabit — essentially, body disguises to keep them from being recognized by the people they used to know. (Jeanne, who’s been dead for hundreds of years, shouldn’t have this problem.) It’s a concept carried over from the first film, which made a running joke of Bridges and Reynolds appearing, to outside observers, as a beautiful blonde, dark-haired woman. ubiquitous character actor James Hong, respectively. That business flirted with the bad taste of turning bodies into jokes, and it wasn’t much of a joke to begin with either. This version manages to be more questionable and even less funny: Leyden casts two black women as sight gags, so he and co-writer Andrew Klein can make jokes about racism without including any real black characters of significance. It is a staggering miscalculation.

So, one could argue, it is doing RIPD 2 first. It’s the kind of project that belies other movies described with a pithy “Nobody asked for this.” (Oh, “no one asked for” a Buzz Lightyear spin-off of the beloved and enduring toy story Serie? That movie seems essential compared to this decade-long prequel to a critically panned flop that looks vaguely like its fellow flop. jonah hex.) Given the unnecessary rise of the damned is, the Leyden choice to reduce the original DEPIDThe bombast of a summer movie in a fast-paced, enjoyable supernatural western qualifies as a smash hit. On the other hand, anyone who works in the DEPID The universe should also understand the value of staying dead.

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RIPD 2: Rise of the Damned is available to stream on Netflix or for digital rental on Amazon, voodooand other platforms. You can see the first eight minutes of the movie free online.

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