Director: David Twohy
MPAA Rating: R
Film Pulse Score: 6.5/10
The Riddick franchise is an interesting one to say the least. The first film, Pitch Black, had a solid sci-fi premise; survive on a planet filled with deadly nocturnal creatures when it falls into prolonged darkness; that introduced a very cool character in Richard Riddick. The second film, The Chronicles of Riddick, attempted to expand the universe and Riddick’s origins. It is very far removed from its predecessor and certainly garnered notices for some originality. Despite its convolutions it was still entertaining. Now with the latest film, Riddick, director David Twohy and star Vin Diesel return to the basics in a film that is different from the last, only slightly similar to the first but certainly one of the better entries in the series.
When we first see Riddick he is bruised, broken and stranded on a desolate but hostile planet. He is alone and is forced to face the many creatures while coping with serious injuries. He stumbles upon a merc settlement and triggers the emergency beacon to bring in a ship. When bounty hunters arrive it’s Riddick versus them. Soon he realizes there are much deadlier things out there to be worried about and while killing the mercs off one-by-one is amusing time is running out for all of them.
Riddick is a much more entertaining and stream-lined film than Chronicles was. While the last film was a bit bogged down in its mythos, this one cuts the fat and it may not be the high-octane, stand up and cheer kind of action it still moves along rather quickly and features numerous, cool set pieces. Fans just want to see Riddick in action and Twohy and Diesel do not disappoint. One highlight features Riddick taking on an alien creature and another where it’s Riddick versus a horde. It isn’t all aliens and carnage as they have injected a cheesy, low-brow, tongue-in-cheek sense of humor with numerous corny one-liners that may illicit a snicker or two.
At a reported budget of $38 million the film looks more expensive considering it is a very effects heavy film. The cliché of every dollar is on the screen certainly comes to mind. The creatures look convincing and the environments look alien. David Eggby returns as cinematographer, he did Pitch Black, and creates a look that is similar to that film.
Vin Diesel is solid as Riddick. He knows this character and serves up what he knows the fans are clamoring for. Riddick Unleashed could have easily been an alternate title for this film. He clearly enjoys playing this character and he certainly looks to be doing all of his own stunt work. Likely the most recognizable names in the supporting cast are Katee Sackhoff, Dave Bautista, Bokeem Woodbine and Karl Urban in a cameo as Vaako.
Overall the supporting cast is good, serving their purpose be it for someone for Riddick to insult or kill or to be alien food.
While not as good as Pitch Black, Riddick is an entertaining entry in this budding franchise. Diesel stated that Chronicles was to be a trilogy so presumably this is actually the middle chapter. It’s certainly a popcorn film that won’t eat your brain cells when you’re through with it and unlike the last you may even want to check it out again afterwards or at least before the next one comes out. If you’re a fan of the series then you certainly don’t want to miss it. As for the rest it’s a passable sci-fi adventure worth your two hours and in comparison to other future world films like After Earth or Oblivion it certainly is the best.