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Riddick Review: Riddick Takes Us Back to Familiar Pitch Black Territory

By Andrew Burgon / phoenix@projectfellowship.com
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October 30, 2013

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Release: September 5, 2013
Studio: Universal Pictures
Director: David Twohy
Screenwriter: David Twohy
Starring: Vin Diesel, karl Urban, Jordi Molla, Matt Nable, Katee Sackhoff,
Bokeem Woodbine, Dave Bautista, Conrad Pla, Raoul Trujillo, Nolan
Funk, Keri Hilson
Genre: Action, Sci-Fi
MPAA Rating: R (for strong violence, language and some sexual content/nudity)
 

Riddick returns to his roots in a survivor versus aliens mode and a number of bounty hunters thrown in for good measure.

Riddick, one of the most indomitable badasses in moviedom, finds himself stranded on a god-forsaken, sun-scorched planet. It doesn’t get more inhospitable than this. Alien carrion birds, hyenas and scorpion-serpents all hell-bent on having a piece of him or all of him for that matter.

The first part of the movie sees him defying the elements in a sheer survivalist grind and mastering them. Using himself as bait to lure his next meal, raising an alien hyena pup and battling it out with scorpion-serpents. We also get to see his betrayal and how he fell from the lofty heights of reluctant Lord Marshall at the hands of a Necromonger conspiracy.

Riddick eventually makes his way to a deserted mercenary encampment and activates an emergency beacon to let his whereabouts and identity known. He knows bounty hunters will come for him and that they will ironically become his salvation.

Two teams of bounty hunters come looking for him. The first led by the in-your-face Santana (Jordi Molla) who wants Riddick’s head in a box and the second by the vengeance-driven Boss Johns (Matt Nable), who wants answers from Riddick about the troubling death of his son. What follows is the formulaic one-death-at-a-time either at the hands of Riddick or the serpent-monsters who are taking advantage of the stormy weather to travel overland.

Vin Diesel was born to be the anti-hero and escaped convict Riddick and this helps make the character even more convincing and real. Even in chains his character is the most menacing person in the film. His physique and force of personality are sufficient enough to carry the action film and demand our attention.

Battlestar Galactica star Katee Sackhoff (Starbuck) makes a welcome and believable entrance as the hard-hitting mercenary Dahl. Put her in a squad with Linda Hamilton’s Sarah Connor and Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley and you would have an awesome trio. Matt Nable conveys a sense of emotional conflict and a tinge of nobility throughout his performance. Karl Urban only makes a forgettable, brief appearance as Vaako at the beginning of the movie.

Most of the special effects are impressive especially the nasty inhabitants of the planet who are eager to find their next meal. They are all life-like and some scenes are cringeworthy.

There is a little humor underpinning the movie. The mercenary Dahl’s treatment of Santana is one. The latter comes across as a big bossy boots who thinks he is in absolute control but gets a rude awakening more than once from Dahl. Riddick getting his grown up hyena to do a trick and Santana equating Riddick’s revealing his whereabouts to that of calling a taxi was amusing.

Though the second installment in the franchise, The Chronicles of Riddick, seemed to get the raspberry from a number of critics it is by far my favorite. The interesting necromongers, their massive ships and destruction of worlds. Riddick’s imprisionment underground and his escape across the surface of a sun-scorched planet. The final battle against the supernatural that results in him being Lord Marshall.

Initially, I felt that Riddick’s latest adventure was a few notches down and back to safe and familiar territory Pitch Black style. If I felt disappointment it was fleeting. Riddick doing what he does best, killing aliens and outwitting mercenaries, is worth the price of the ticket alone. If you are into a lean, mean, testerone-soaked sci-fi movie that features an ultra-cool badass, then this movie is probably for you.

* Rated ‘R’ for it’s violence, language, a little sex talk and topless nudity.
 
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