Ror Reviews: RIDDICK
Vin Diesel clearly loves this character and was adamant that he'd make another Riddick movie after the disappointing Chronicles..but did audiences really care one way or the other? Well, I didn't, but was I pleasantly surprised? Click on for my take..
"Where did you pull that theory from? a unicorn's ass?" Yes, that's an actual line of dialogue from David Twohy's Riddick, and there are many more like it. The script is actually a bit of as mess overall, it's full of one dimensional characters, some of the performances are DOA, and there's enough macho silliness and misogyny on show to make Michael Bay wince. But, despite (or maybe in some ways because of?) all that, it still manages to be damn entertaining.
Of course this is mainly due to the title character; the cool as ever Richard B. Riddick. I've never been a big fan of Vin Diesel's but I've always liked him in this role -- even some of the mess that was Chronicles Of Riddick was made watchable by his presence. And whereas that movie made the mistake of trying to expand the mythology in some very silly ways, Riddick takes us back to the basics of the infinitely superior Pitch Black: Richy B on a planet full of creatures, with a few disposable enemies/reluctant allies. In fact a good portion of the movie is JUST Riddick and his pet "dingo dongo" trying to survive, and I found it to be stronger than what comes later when the rest of the cast turn up. A distress beacon brings two different teams of mercs down to capture Riddick..preferably dead. There's the rag-tag bunch of bastards led by Santana (Jordi Mollà) and the more professional, better equipped team led by Boss Johns (Matt Nable). The two butt heads at first of course, but when Riddick starts to pick them off they team up to take him down..until the rain comes and they realize they have even bigger problems.
As I mentioned, Diesel shines playing this antihero and he's on form once again here, but the problems stem from the supporting characters around him. What made Pitch Black work so well was the ensemble -- the likes of Cole Hauser's junkie merc to Radha Mitchel as (arguably) the principal character -- and in Riddick they're really just disposable, interchangeable, fodder. Sure Katee Sackhoff and Dave Bautista do their best, but neither has enough to do to make a real impact. The two "bosses" are pretty good though; Nable in particular turns in a great performance as a man with links to Riddick's past, and although Molla gets most of the cringeyest lines, he's good sleazy fun.
But hey, I'm perfectly aware that this type of movie isn't out to leave us awestruck by the acting and the fabulous characterization, and you'll be pleased to hear the action delivers. Riddick slices and dices to great effect, and although it'd have been nice for some of the hand-to-hand scraps to last a little longer, there's plenty to keep sci-fi/gore hounds happy. The special effects are also decent considering the budget..aside from the hover-bike scene that is!
A nice old school sci-fi/horror vibe and a terrific main character just about save Riddick -- but Diesel and Twohy really need to think of something new and interesting to do with this guy if we see him for a fourth outing. Not a patch on Pitch, but it's a fun flick.
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