DVD Release Date: October 29, 2013
Theatrical Release Date: July 16, 2013
Rating: PG-13 for violence, sci-fi/fantasy action, some sensuality, and language including sex references
Genre: Action
Run Time: 96 min. 
Director: Robert Schwentke
Cast: Jeff Bridges, Ryan Reynolds, Kevin Bacon, Mary Louise Parker, James Hong, Marissa Miller, Stephanie Szostak

For years, the summer movie season has been filled with titles with roman numerals. The sequel season has both critics and audiences complaining about the lack of original content, although enough people line up to see familiar characters, rehashed plots and plain old retreads that the studios continue to churn them out year after year.

Pity the poor movie that isn't completely pre-sold to a particular audience yet isn't exactly original in its ideas or storyline. When the media wants to unleash its fury, it goes after the movies that aren't part of a franchise but are so formulaic they may as well be.

That's the case with R.I.P.D., based on a not-widely-known comic book. The film has been included in a bevy of articles ahead of its release about summer box-office "bombs." According to industry insiders, Universal, the studio behind R.I.P.D., is bracing for a bloodbath at the box-office with the film. Universal didn't screen the movie in advance in many markets, and where it did screen the movie early, it was only an hour or two before the first screenings available to the general public. That's not a sign of confidence; it's the sign of a studio that wants to prevent bad word of mouth on the film for as long as it can.

The problem with this strategy is that it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy: once the word gets out about the studio's efforts to keep viewers from previewing a movie, those who do go to see it expect the worst, and that's what they claim to see. On the plus side, the bad buzz allows some attendees to enjoy the film more than they might have had they gone with sky-high expectations.

Whatever R.I.P.D.'s flaws—a story too reminiscent of Men in Black and Ghostbusters... uneven special effects... a mindless, overextended finale—the film is blessed with a loony performance from the great Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart), who delivers several hearty laughs, especially during the film's first half.

Nick (Ryan Reynolds, Turbo) is a police officer who has made a foolish decision: he's held on to some riches obtained during a bust made with his partner, Hayes (Kevin Bacon, X-Men: First Class). Hayes isn't too happy when a contrite Nick says he’s changed his mind and wants to give back his part of the haul, so Hayes dispatches Nick to the afterlife.

That's where Nick meets Proctor (Mary-Louise Parker, RED 2), the bureau chief of the Rest In Peace Department (R.I.P.D.). She lets Nick know that things aren't looking too good for him in terms of eternal destiny, but he can earn her recommendation for reconsideration by serving with the R.I.P.D. The department's mission? To find souls that have escaped justice and are living on Earth, disguised as humans. If the premise sounds a lot like Men in Black, with aliens swapped out for dead souls, just remember that Hollywood isn't exactly a hotbed of originality.