In the long history of sequels and prequels, it feels safe to say that one shouldn’t expect too much from a sequel, or a prequel, since they have a huge burden to bear when it comes to following the original movie. Considering that the first RIPD movie didn’t really go over that well with a lot of fans, it’s safe to state that the sequel, which is a prequel, wasn’t going to be received quite as well, either. To be fair, though, the story that’s created for this movie is kind of interesting since it reaches back into the past of Roy Pulsifer, or Pulcipher depending on the spelling, and shows how he came to be an integral part of the RIPD. The inclusion of Joan of Arc, which should be all kinds of ridiculous, is actually kind of endearing, even if it does become kind of silly at some points. But there’s no doubt that this movie is meant to be a bit campy since the acting is a little over the top, and more than that, it’s not the type of movie that was ever meant to be a big deal. It’s a prequel that explains were one of the characters from the first movie comes from and how he was pressed into service.
As overdone as the characters are, they still work for this movie.
There’s no denying that the characters in this movie feel as though they go well beyond what they need to be in terms of who they are and what they’re up to. In other words, they don’t feel one hundred percent real, but they feel good enough, considering that this wasn’t bound to be a movie that would hit the big screen. Roy and Jeanne make a good enough team to make it fun, and the whole idea of the movie is great enough since it allows the characters to become likable or detestable at some point, depending upon which side they serve. It’s very easy to see how Roy would need to adjust to his new predicament, especially since he’s not totally aware of what he can and can’t do. Jeanne, on the other hand, is a little arrogant, but rightfully so in a way since she’s been around long enough to have seen a few people come and go. The fact that souls that work for the RIPD are expected to serve for a certain amount of time is kind of an interesting development.
The generic plot isn’t that bad.
The basic idea is that the RIPD needs to stop a powerful demon, Astaroth, from delivering hell on earth, as the creature is set on releasing demonic spirits into the world to possess and replace humanity. Using a mineshaft where the veil between hell and earth is particularly thin every two and a half decades allows this to happen, and as Astaroth, in the form of a prospector, takes over a town and forces the individuals to work at increasing the size of the pit leading to hell, Roy and Jeanne make their way to the town, as it’s become their next mission. The dynamic between the two is interesting since it shows a level of development that’s not great but is still believable and enjoyable since it pushes the story along in a manner that’s easy to watch. It’s a bit corny here and there, but the fact is that it shows how Roy became an agent of the RIPD and that he’s been one of the best for a long time.
The villain is definitely over the top, but the role isn’t too bad.
Having seen this actor in a few other movies, it’s with great confidence that one can say that he usually plays a great villain who’s easy to dislike and who definitely doesn’t hold back when it comes to how detestable he can be. Playing the part of a devil isn’t too much of a stretch since the guy does have a look to him that shows that he’s someone who can turn on the bad and make it real enough. As I’ve said, the acting isn’t the best, but it works in ways that are necessary for the movie since, by the time Astaroth emerges in his natural form, one can easily believe that the transition makes sense.
Surprisingly, the ending isn’t too bad, to a point.
There’s just enough comedy in this movie to make it worth watching, as Jeffrey Donovan has been a worthwhile actor for quite a few years, and his fellow cast members end up doing a good job of keeping the movie more or less on the rails. There were a dozen ways that this movie could have gone out of control in a hurry, but by sticking to the story, it became a lot easier to watch this sequel/prequel.