September 7, 2013

Movie Review: Riddick

Way back in 2000 writer/director David Twohy introduced us to the character of Riddick in Pitch Black. It was a solid science fiction/action/horror movie that was born from a rejected screenplay for Alien 3. I remember liking that movie instantly. Four years later we got a much more epic sequel, Chronicles of Riddick. That movie was met with a good deal of distaste, although I recall liking it, despite being some years since I have seen it. Now, nine years later we have a second sequel, simply titled Riddick. I find it's existence to be a bit curious, but not wholly unwelcome.

I wish I could get those not wholly unwelcome feelings back after seeing the movie. While, I like the character and find it to be one of my favorites from Diesel, I wish the movie surrounding him was better. It is a curious release because I cannot say that I have seen many clamping for his return after the lukewarm response to Chronicles. I guess there was something about him that made Diesel want to revisit, I mean he did leverage his house to ensure the movie got completed.

Riddick opens with our anti-hero buried under rubble, left for dead, and stranded on a mostly dead planet where everything is pretty much rubble. After digging himself out, we see how he ended up there following the end of Chronicles. After this we are treated to a good half hour of a man and his dog as Riddick reacquaints himself with his instinctual, beast side and raises a companion alien dog. Upon seeing a rainstorm and some alien squirmies beneath, he decides it is time to leave and activates a beacon at a mercenary outpost.

A couple of ships then sow up, one with a bunch of money hungry mercenaries looking for Riddick's head in a box. The other ship lands with a different purpose, it seems that the captain of this ship as ties to Riddick's past. These groups argue and bicker for awhile, as Riddick is relegated to the background. Blah, blah, blah.

The third act involves the coming of the rains and the inevitable wary team up of mercenaries and Riddick to survive the coming of the squirmies in the rain. Nothing terribly mind blowing or unpredictable here. It all ends, spoiler warning, with an opening for another sequel.

I really wanted to like this movie, I honestly did. I tried to like it, I must couldn't. The movie felt long and drawn out with little really happening. There was too much of an effort to humanize Riddick and make him likable, as evidenced by all the dog stuff. Riddick is a bad guy, play him like that. This is the kind of movie that would be best served short, fast, and nasty, not unlike the direction taken with Dredd last year.

Simply put, the movie is boring. I really did not care for all the boy and his dog stuff. The rival mercenary groups did not really have mush to say or anything interesting to do. Even the guy tied to Riddick's past is maddeningly obtuse. I don't know, there is just too much posturing and too little substance here.

Fortunately, it is not all bad. While Riddick is only somewhat nasty, jt still has some moments to shine as a superior fighter with a way with witty one lines. It is also fun watching Katee Sackhoff steal a number of scenes, she is clearly having a blast.

Riddick has to be seen as a disappointment. It is overlong and under amped. It is as if they are trying to make this guy a likable hero when he should just e out there tearing stuff up. If you are going to run a movie out there that nears the two hour mark, there should be some effort put towards making it interesting. Give us some meat on the lead, semi-heroic posturing is not going to cut it.

This third outing sought to cut back on the epic mythology building of Chronicles and deliver something a little more intimate like Pitch Black. It doesn't really work. It doesn't help that the effects are not always that convincing with CGI that looks it and green screen work where you can see the seams.

Again, I wanted to like it, I just couldn't. Not enough substance here to latch onto. I would not be against another Riddick outing, but I hope they make him a bit meaner and give us a story with something to it that is worth telling.

Not Recommended.

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