This spends little time on exposition and doesn't go in for any false pathos; compared with most recent comic-book movies, this is lean, unpretentious filmmaking--and to my taste, a lot more fun for it.
Too bad director Robert Schwentke ("RED") and the writing team handling the 3-D screen adaptation don't hold up their end, failing to do much with a premise that felt like it could rate with, say, "Men in Black."
With its low-stakes chase scenes, obvious-from-the-get-go villains and nonsensical plotting, this feels more like a 96-minute-long episode of Scooby-Doo that's been laboriously translated into another language and then back into English.
It's not funny. It's not exciting. It's not engaging. It's a waste of time and money. Having seen it, I can understand why it was hidden from critics. The disappointment is that it wasn't hidden from everyone else as well.
As a major undertaking with clear sequel ambitions, there's just not enough new and exciting here to cut it; when the brief 96-minute running time is one of its two or three only virtues, you know you're in trouble.
Every movie coming out this year but "R.I.P.D." should pause for a big sigh of relief: The possibility of any of them being called the worst cinematic effort of 2013 has, as of today, just about disappeared.