Riddick is back, and this time he is stranded on an alien world, with bounty hunters after him, and they’re all trying to get off the planet before an unseen alien menace attacks. Sound a little familiar? Yeah, I imagine it does, but don’t let that put you off. Riddick’s return to the dark is…after the jump…
Riddick is a bad-ass character.
Vin Diesel relishes the role.
Some very entertaining death scenes.
Some stunning visuals.
It is remake of Pitch Black, essentially.
Action light middle act.
Riddick … Vin Diesel
Santana … Jordi Mollà
Boss Johns … Matt Nable
Dahl … Katee Sackhoff
Diaz … Dave Bautista
Vaako … Karl Urban
Pitch Black was a dark, almost indie, Alien-esque movie, by virtue of the planet they crashed landed on. The Chronicles of Riddick was a huge, bloated and bombastic Dune-esque movie, by virtue of the planet Riddick ended up on. Now we have a big budget Aliens-esque movie. Riddick is Pitch Black, with the look of Chronicles…and for the most part it works.
RIDDICK IS A SCI-FI CONAN
The movie opens with Vin Diesel‘s Riddick, all beat to crap, stranded on a God-forsaken rock. The whole first act is Riddick, on his own, bad-assing, getting a pet, and beating the tar out of a variety of weird alien beasties. The opening act serves two purposes. Firstly: it quickly and efficiently dismisses just about everything that happened in Chronicles. Yes, it happened. No, it doesn’t have ANY bearing on this movie. Let’s forget about it, and move on. Secondly: Riddick is bad-ass. The Bad-Ass. A bad-ass of Conan meets Rambo levels of bad-assery. He heals, trains, performs some self-surgery, fends off a pack of alien-dog-thingies, and every second shot is a stunning “hero” shot, designed to make Vin/Riddick look awesome. And it works.
Then, in the second act, the plot kicks in. The story is essentially a remake/sequel to Pitch Black, set ten years after the events of that movie. This time there are two teams of bounty hunters, one bad, one less bad, out for Riddick’s head. While he’s sneaking around, being all creepy and what-not, there is another threat looming, a threat that only Riddick knows about, and is the reason he wants off this planet. It really is a remake of Pitch Black, with shots duplicated, and lines repeated. That said, this too works. Admittedly the action takes a bit of a back seat in favor of some mounting tension, as Riddick and The Rain approaches the mercenary’s settlement, but it lacks the punch that Pitch Black had.
RIDDICK RETURNS TO THE (PITCH) BLACK
The cast of mercenaries are quite fun. Jordi Mollà is a bad bad man, and brilliant to watch. Matt Nable is the only good man on this planet, and is very engaging. They are the two heads of the two mercenary groups. Katee Sackhoff is good, offering a pair of surprises, but is ultimately repeating her role of Battlestar Galactica‘s Starbuck. Former WWE champion Dave Bautista is a menacing presence, but I feel there’s more he could do. When he and Vin finally lock up, the fight is a bit disappointing, and a bit wrestley…and that’s coming from a wrestling fan.
This movie is the product of two men: Star and producer Vin Diesel; Writer and director David Twohy. Vin is really good. His voice is still very grumbly, but not as mumbly as it has been. Even though he is barely present in the middle act, his presence looms large over the whole movie. This is the role that made Vin Vin, and he is relishing this return. As to Twohy, this guy is pretty cool, and has quietly had a hand in a lot of cool movies, ranging from Critters 2 to The Fugitive and Waterworld, to say nothing about his writing and directing the previous Riddick movies. His script is quite good, with some cool moments, and some funny lines. Although the plot and framework of the movie sticks dangerously close to Pitch Black. The movie looks damn cool, with some great shots, and an interesting use of color filters, particularly in the first act. It all looks pretty amazing, like panels in a comic book.
Let’s not forget that this is, at the end of the day, a big action movie, and the action is good, bloody, and littered with curses. There are even a few sets of boobs! It’s not excessively violent, but it does have two or three of the best deaths I’ve seen in a while. In fact, one of them is so gloriously gory, and overwhelmingly dumb, that I couldn’t help but cheer. The aliens are nowhere near as cool as the aliens from Pitch Black, but they serve their purpose, and gives Riddick a bunch of things to kill.
BOTTOM LINE: BAD-ASS RIDDICK FUN
So…Riddick is back, and is back to what he does best. “Small” scale carnage, leaving the huge epic story-telling alone. It is a little too much like the superior Pitch Black, but it is good violent sci-fi fun. It doesn’t have the pretensions of other recent sci-fi movies, but it delivers Riddick bad-assery in spades.