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Riddick – Movie Review

Pitch Black was the first film (aside from the animated film, The Iron Giant) that starred Vin Diesel.  It was something of a cult film, and it eventually spawned a sequel, The Chronicles of Riddick.  That was back in 2004.  Nine years later, we got the next installment in the Richard B. Riddick saga, and it was a nice return to form for the series.  A planet full of monsters, a rag-tag group of mercenaries forced to work together, and Riddick generally being a badass?  Sign me up!

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Riddick Movie Review

Director: David Twohy

Starring: Vin Diesel, Jordi Molla, Matthew Nable, Katee Sackhoff

If you’ve followed Riddick’s story so far (and really, if you’re seeing this film, you probably have), you’ll see that Riddick is set five years after the events in The Chronicles of Riddick.  Riddick (Vin Diesel) is unhappy in his current role with the Necromongers.  He makes a deal to give up his power to Commander Vaako (Karl Urban in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo) in exchange for the location of Furya, his home planet.  If you’ve seen the trailers (and the previous film), you’ll know that Vaako is a huge jerk and instead strands Riddick on an unknown planet.  It is here that the movie proper begins.

The first third of the film plays like a more violent version of Cast Away.  Watch Riddick fix broken limbs while fending off the native predators!  Watch Riddick hunt and fish for food!  Watch Riddick interact with Wilson a jackal-like creature as his only companion!  Eventually, he encounters the planet’s native nightmares, fittingly called “Mud Demons” (I swear, that’s what they’re called).  He decides that enough is enough and sends for help from an abandoned mercenary station.

This is where the second third of the film begins and we meet the other colorful cast of characters.  There’s Santana (Jordi Molla), a violent and unstable bounty hunter and his crew that are out to collect Riddick’s head in a box.  There is also Boss Johns (Matthew Nable of Rugby fame) and his cohort Dahl (Katee Sackhoff of Battlestar Galactica fame) out to collect Riddick for other mysterious reasons.  Everyone tries to capture Riddick while he tries to escape them and the dangerous creatures on the planet.

Now, I have to say here that Riddick is not winning any awards for best screenplay.  Some of the dialogue is simply laughable, with the various mercenary stock characters saying very mercenary stock character lines.  “Why do we need all these people?  This is overkill. Riddick is just one guy. I’ll hunt him down myself and we can get off this rock.”  Really, unnamed mercenary?  Let’s see how that turns out…

That being said, our anti-hero has some pretty ridiculous-but-entertaining one liners and is generally a huge badass.  Watching him dispatch of the bounty hunters and mercenaries is awesome, and Riddick does it with a smug attitude.  He knows he’s better at everything than anyone else on that planet.  As ridiculous as some of the action sequences were, they were all very entertaining.  Vin Diesel simply becomes Riddick and it shows.

It really is a shame, because much of the second act revolves around Santana’s group bickering with Boss Johns’ group instead of focusing on the more engaging Riddick.  Yeah, Santana is crazy and erratic and Boss Johns is composed and focused, but we could have determined this after their first meeting.  Dahl is there as the only female presence in the film, and while she certainly has her badass moments, she also succumbs to gratuitous nudity.  It wasn’t a long scene by any means, but it also wasn’t necessary in the slightest.

Act three is very much like Pitch Black, and I mean that as a compliment.  The Mud Demons are not the crazy winged creatures that tormented the crew from Pitch Black, but they are definitely formidable.  Again, Vin Diesel shines as Riddick in these scenes and again, some of the action is ridiculous but is all very entertaining.  Can normal men leap eight feet into the air and slice a Mud Demon in half? No… but Riddick can.

The film has its flaws: The dialogue is mediocre at best, some of the characters are there simply to look imposing until they meet their demise, and the tone abruptly changes throughout the film.  However, if you’re a fan of the first two films, Riddick will not disappoint.  Vin Diesel does the badass anti-hero thing well, and the action scenes are fun and bloody.  More importantly… everyone should want a pet jackal-like creature.  Coolest CGI pet ever!

Rating: 7 out of 10