Monday, September 30, 2013

Review of Riddick

In 2000, writer/director David Twohy scored a surprise hit with “Pitch Black”, better known as the movie that made Vin Diesel a star. Fueled by the hit, the studios gave Twohy a truckload of money which became the muddled “The Chronicles of Riddick” in 2004.

The would-be franchise looked dead in the water but never underestimate star power in Hollywood as action-star Vin Diesel pushed to get this third Riddick movie made. He even decided to remortgage his house to get the movie made! Talk about putting your money where your mouth is.

So to the surprise of no one, most people hoped that “Riddick” would be a success. Starring Diesel and written and directed by David Twohy again, the results are mixed.

In this third installment in the series, we find Riddick marooned on a desolate planet after being betrayed by the Necromongers. I found this first part of the movie to be extremely enjoyable as the injured Riddick slowly worked to survive and then thrived on the dangerous planet.

Needing to get off-world however, Riddick found an empty mercenary station and then activate an emergency beacon in it. His identity and presence on the planet broadcasted to the galaxy, two ships promptly arrive in answer to the beacon; both looking to get Riddick for his bounty.

This bought us to the second act of the movie where the two groups of mercenaries first worked against each other, and then decide to join forces against Riddick. This second part of the movie was strange but also highly enjoyable. The various mercenaries may be stock characters but their interaction with each other lifted the movie as they gave the movie some fun beyond the always gruff Riddick would be able to. Credit must be given to the actors for this, especially Dave Bautista (yes, the wrestler) who shown some good comic timing as Diaz.

However “Riddick” was let down in the final part of the movie when Riddick and the mercenaries teamed up to fend off an endless stream of mud monsters. Frankly, this part of the movie looks like a remake of Pitch Black. Worse, it doesn’t gel well with the far superior front two thirds of the movie. It was as if Twohy suddenly became worried that there wasn’t enough blood, guns, monsters and death in the movie and decided to shove everything into the mix at the end.

It was a disappointing end to what was till then a very good sci-fi survival movie. Till then the movie did a good job keeping you involved in the struggles of the characters. Whether it was Riddick’s battle to survive on the planet, the mercenaries battle with each other, or their battle against Riddick; everything from the action to the story moved with ease.

Then suddenly mud monsters came out!

Sigh! Riddick could have been great, but in the end it became a case of “what if”. However it is still a highly enjoyable sci-fi movie and I would still recommend it. It’s not the best movie you’ll see this year but it’s a good fun ride.

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