Monday, February 10, 2014

Riddick (2013)

JohnnyTwoToes finds this 3rd installment of the Riddick series a weak rehash 

It has been nearly ten years since we last saw Vin Diesel as Riddick in action. When we first saw him in 2000, he was battling savage aliens with a group of shipwrecked survivors in Pitch Black. Then, in 2004's The Chronicles of Riddick we saw Riddick seek revenge against the Lord Marshall of the Necromongers, a group of Nazi like troops, who will lay waste to an entire planet. Now as Riddick opens we see him harried and harassed over the desert terrain of another alien planet. This is the opening of David Twohy's 2013 follow up to 2004's sequel. 

I have been a huge fan of this franchise and it has garnered a big cult following; both the character played by Vin Diesel and the films. I thought Pitch Black was terrific and The Chronicles of Riddick (although less successful) was a great sequel. The Chronicles of Riddick was something bold and daring. It did not follow the original film very much with the exception of two characters that were in the original. The Plot was something different entirely and I thought it worked well. Which is why I was somewhat disappointed with the latest film, Riddick

Riddick starts on a barren desert like planet as the title character is attacked nonstop for the first 15 minutes of the film by a series of CGI creatures; a wolf/dog like pack of carnivores, alien vultures and finally, a sea creature that seems to be able to survive on land as well as in the planet's toxic water basins. Wounded, hungry and thirsty, Riddick begins to piece how he came to the planet in the first place. 

A double crossing Vaako (Karl Urban) has tricked our hero onto this dust bowl. "Why is it the punch you never see coming is the one that takes you down?" muses Riddick as he finally settles in to get some rest under a fallen rock. As Riddick wakes, he befriends a puppy of the wolf/dog packs and the two become friendly. After about more minutes of Riddick playing Dr. Doolittle, he discovers a beacon of a crashed ship and activates it. All he needs is a ship to get off of this rock, so he can get back to civilization. 

Two mercenaries (mercs) groups arrive and neither one of them are interested in taking Riddick alive. It seems he is worth a lot of bounty dead or alive. One group is lead by Santana (Jordi MollĂ ) and he is a particularly nasty SOB who seems to be rather dumb in comparison to his fellow mercs in his group. The second group is led by Boss Johns (Matthew Nable) and his group, although more professional looking still seem undermatched for what Riddick can do. The rest of the film is a cat and mouse game with Riddick, the amphibious creatures and the two merc crews. 

David Twohy is a fine writer and director. So far the series of Riddick has been good and Twohy wrote and directed the classic, gothic horror film, Below (2002) about a doomed Word War II United States submarine. Those films were fresh, inventive fun that were well written and had interesting characters that you could get attached to. Riddick has no characters I could relate to or even care about. Twohy has simply rehashed his original film; aliens attack when the sun goes down or, in this case when the rainy season starts. 

Yet, Riddick is not an entirely bad film just not very interesting, Diesel is great as Riddick, as always. He is a fierce fighter but smart and crafty. The rest of the cast seems to follow the motif of going off by themselves only to meet with a horrible demise at the hands of any number of creatures on the planet. The fight sequences are decent but there is nothing in this film that you will remember they way you remember some of the characters from the first two films. There are a lot of good scenes but Riddick is so choppy and disjointed that after a while, I began to get a little tired of it. After almost ten years from the last film, you would think they could come up with some interesting characters and a fresher script. 

Still, Riddick has its moments but they come and go and aside from Diesel's performance as the stoic and misunderstood title character and Graeme Revell's sublime score for Riddick is all dressed up with nowhere to go. Sadly, at least for now there are no plans to even release the score, which is baffling. So, the fans of this iconic franchise are left with very little to enjoy. Riddick is now out on DVD and Blu Ray. Riddick-** out of 4


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