Movie Review: ‘Riddick’
Director: David Twohy
Starring: Vin Diesel, Katee Sackhoff, Jordi Mollà, Matt Nable
Minor spoilers below
I went into Riddick blind, having not seen any trailers or read up on what the film would offer before the preview screening this week. As a big fan of Pitch Black and a serious detractor of Chronicles of Riddick I honestly held no expectations at all of the movie. What I was given was… well a mixed bag.
The film centres around the titular character, left for dead by the Necromomongers he was set to lead by the end of the second film in this series. As he trains himself and recovers his strength he is set upon by bounty hunters who want his head (literally, as one running joke exhibits) and must stalk and fight his way through them to escape the planet before it starts to rain.
There’s a little more to it, but that’s about the gist of the plot. If you were expecting more of Chronicles grand, overly-ambitious space opera then you’ll be disappointed, or relieved depending on whether you liked the second Riddick movie or not. The movie is a lot more like Pitch Black in that regard, in that it revolves largely around one planet, the nasties that live there and an attempt to escape.
Sadly, for me, this movie was more let down than return-to-form. It was fun in places, and there are some truly good aspects I’ll explore in a moment but although there were a few decent laughs the movie has a few problems I just can’t ignore. First though, the good stuff.
The alien designs are great, and are rendered gorgeously. The mud-monsters (nothing gets named in the movie) are scary and interestingly reminiscent of a cobra in their behaviour. The vultures were a nice way to bump up the ecosystem. The wolf-things were truly threatening and Dog was one of my favourite aspects of the movie. My one wish from the movie is that I wanted more Dog. Dog was great and the way they used his growth from puppy to full-sized wolf-thing to demonstrate the passage of time was quite nice, if a little brisk.
Although made on a low budget, they’ve done a great job of realising the world visually and there aren’t any places I can think of where the visual effects betray them.
Sadly the plot and characterisation cannot be given the same praise.
Much of the first act is a one man (and dog) show, and not knowing the film was set entirely on the one planet it felt at the time as simply a too-long introductory prologue. As a result I was kind of bored for the first half hour or so. It had some nice moments, and a lot of the cool creature designs and interactions come from this section but overall it just felt dull. There’s some flashbacks featuring Karl Urban and a group of naked women which give us some bridging narrative and a change of colour palette. Also boobs, if you’re into that sort of thing.
Once the bounty hunters arrive, we do get more quips but they’re all pretty one dimensional and only Matt Nable’s ‘Johns’ is given any sort of development. The remainder are just set dressing and canon fodder providing nothing to the narrative but merely the ability to push the plot that little bit further forward. Katee Sackhoff is quite good as
Starbuck Dahl, with her sweary, lesbian ways but even she gets no “development” unless a sudden implied change of sexuality counts as a character arc.
Although making a point of saying she’s gay (in her words she “doesn’t fuck men”) by the end of the movie it’s revealed that all every lesbian needs is to straddle Vin Diesel and be cured of her homosexual lust.
The final act is a re-tread of Pitch Black but as I pointed out this morning on Twitter, when Pitch Black did it they weren’t revisiting old ground. I didn’t want to see Pitch Black again – I rather like Pitch Black as it is – but rather wanted to see something new.
The best parts of the movie involve Riddick and Dog, wandering the wasteland of Planet X.
It’s Chronicles of Riddick: Space Breasts Ahoy. Chronicles of Riddick and Hooch. Chronicles of Riddick: Riddick Cures A Lesbian. Chronicles of Riddick: Pitch Black in the Rain.
It’s not bad, it just isn’t anything we haven’t seen before and honestly Pitch Black did a better job of telling more-or-less the same story. I didn’t hate it, in fact I enjoyed myself while I watched it but as soon as it was over I felt disappointed it didn’t do something more and honestly I have no intention of ever seeing it again. I wouldn’t buy it on BluRay because I already have Pitch Black and it’s a much better movie.
Not as good as Pitch Black. Better than Chronicles of Riddick.