Yes, I know, so many people either find these Riddick films tedious, uber cheesey and knuckle-headed, or just plain stupid. Me? I happen to find this to be my favorite of Vin Diesel’s gutteral, mono-syllabic, gravel-voiced character oeuvre.
Yes, I know, so many people either find these Riddick films tedious, uber cheesey and knuckle-headed, or just plain stupid. Me? I happen to find this to be my favorite of Vin Diesel’s gutteral, mono-syllabic, gravel-voiced character oeuvre. Ok, maybe one or two of the Fast and Furious movies, too. But that’s it. Riddick is truly his penultimate macho anti-hero. He’s such a badass and kind of a dick, but you still root for him. Ironically, the character’s full name is Richard B. Riddick. Says all it needs to, don’t you think?
This installment of the franchise is not too much different than the first film, Pitch Black. Here, Riddick is left for dead on a barren planet full of unpleasant and dangerous creatures. He sets off a rescue beacon, knowing it will bring mercenaries to try to capture or kill him. Hey, how else is he going to get a ship to leave that rock? So he has to fight off crazy monsters and people trying to kill him. Just another day in the neighborhood for Riddick.
Based on the financial debacle that was the last film, The Chronicles of Riddick, this one cost under 40 million. In some places it shows, like some of the costuming, but other than that, it’s mostly in the scaled down plot. It’s a much tighter focus than the last one.
Vin Diesel is his usual charming macho self, speaking as if he is in the process of swallowing a piece of chewed granite. But as is Riddick’s way, he doesn’t really have to say that much anyway. He does all his talking with his fists, uh, and his feet, or whatever object is close enough to him to make it lethal. He does manage a body count in this, and they use some of that budget to cause some gruesome deaths. If you were wondering, that’s actually a plus.
Katee Sackhoff is here looking great, and being a tough as balls mercenary named Dahl, along with Matt Nable as Boss Johns. He’s supposed to be the father of William J. Johns from Pitch Black, played by Cole Hauser. Strangely, Boss Johns appears to be as old as his son would have been these ten years later. But, whatever.
Jordi Molla’ plays a merc named Santana, and his character is delighfully sleazy and a tad dim. Dahl beats on him often to the joy of the viewer. Dave Bautista – yes, the WWE wrestler – plays merc Diaz. That dude is HUGE. Other familiar names round out the other mercs such as, Bokeem Woodbine, Raoul Trujillo, and Conrad Pla. And some other names I didn’t recognize. But that’s ok, because with Riddick around, you’re really just a statistic anyway. To be honest, it’s pretty fortuate that some of these people actually got names. It could’ve been just, “merc that gets killed by big metal bear traps”, or “guy that gets head cut in half”, stuff like that.
The first part of the film, though, is Riddick telling us how he got to this planet. Those events briefly take us back to the Necromongers where we get a dash of Karl Urban reprising briefly his role of Vaako. After Riddick is left for dead, he has to adapt to the planet and the dangerous creatures living there. Some of those are these dog/hyaena type animals, and as a minor spoiler, for a while the film is much like A Riddick and His Dog. And then there are these weird creatures with long tails that have a stinging spike on them. Riddick handles those with his usual aplomb, but then they become a significant problem in the last act of the film, at night, in the rain, just like Pitch Black.
Riddick has some good stuff going on though: the usual entertaining cheese, the over-the-top machismo (also cheese), some good kills, and some great production design, which I’ve enjoyed throughout the franchise. But frankly, the end was a little anti-climactic for me. Even for me, a fan of these films, this third installment left a little to be desired. I actually enjoy both the first and second films, and the animated Dark Fury. But Riddick ended on a kind of low note. However, it is clear that they will be back, so I’m good with that.
I hear that Vin Diesel did a cameo in Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift in exchange for the rights to the Riddick franchise so he could make this independently. Gotta admit, at least that’s a smart move. I think. Well, this film is just barely three kittenhands. I liked it ok, but it left me a bit disappointed in the very end. Like most of the summer did.
~ Neil T. Weakley, your average movie-goer, admitting he likes the Riddick franchise. Yeah, that’s right. I said it.