Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Review: "Riddick" Goes Back to Basics

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 8 (of 2014) by Leroy Douresseaux

Riddick (2013)
Running time:  119 minutes (1 hour, 59 minutes)
MPAA – R for strong violence, language and some sexual content/nudity
DIRECTOR:  David Twohy
WRITER:  David Twohy (based upon characters created by Jim Wheat and Ken Wheat)
PRODUCERS:  Vin Diesel and Ted Field
EDITOR:  Tracy Adams
COMPOSER:  Graeme Revell


Starring:  Vin Diesel, Jordi Molla, Matt Nable, Katee Sackhoff, Dave Bautista, Bokeem Woodbine, Raoul Trujillo, Conrad Pla, Danny Blanco Hall, Noah Danby, Neil Napier, Nolan Gerard Funk, Andreas Apergis, Keri Lynn Hilson, and Karl Urban

Riddick is a 2013 British-American science fiction and action-thriller film from writer-director David Twohy.  Starring Vin Diesel in the title role, this film is a sequel to the 2004 science fiction film, The Chronicles of Riddick, and is also the third feature film in The Chronicles of Riddick film franchise that began with 2000’s Pitch Black.  In the new film, Riddick finds himself left for dead on a desolate planet and facing off against two bands of mercenaries and the planet’s predatory inhabitants.

Riddick takes place five years after the events of the movie, The Chronicles of Riddick.  The universe’s most dangerous man, Richard B. Riddick (Vin Diesel), awakens on an unnamed, sun-scorched planet and finds himself severely injured.  He realizes that he must go “back to zero” and awaken the savage inside himself.  Eventually, Riddick discovers that although he has survived the planet’s harsh environment and native predators, he must still find a way off this world.

Riddick activates an emergency beacon at an abandoned mercenary station.  Two ships promptly answer the beacon.  The first carries a band of grungy mercenaries led by the violent and erratic, Santana (Jordi Molla).  The second group of mercenaries is more professional and better equipped, but they are led by Boss John (Matt Nable), a man who has a connection to Riddick’s past.  As the two groups fight to see which will capture Riddick, they are unaware of something that may be more dangerous than Riddick.

Riddick isn’t by any means a great movie, but, just like The Chronicles of Riddick, it is a rather entertaining movie.  Riddick is very much the work of talented artists, craftsman, and photographers and CGI artists.  Their best work is revealed in the long-distance views of the planet’s sun-scorched landscapes and turbulent sky.

However, director David Twohy and his star, Vin Diesel, don’t leave everything up to the techs and artisans.  They go back to the basics, delivering a tense, brooding thriller that borrows heavily from the first film, Pitch Black, which is basically a template for this new movie.  Riddick recaptures the stripped-down, indie-style science fiction that was the first film, while jettisoning the opulent sci-fi mode of the second film.  If you like Pitch Black, you may like Riddick.

I wish the screenplay developed the characters better than it does.  The Boss John subplot is wasted.  There is potential for real conflict between Riddick, John, and the other mercs, but the other characters are mostly cannon fodder or are simply in the film to make Riddick look like such a stallion among nags.

Say what you will about his acting (and there may be little to say), Diesel, as a movie star, is a steed and a charger and a stallion, and his personality is a large object, large enough to cast a shadow over his co-stars.  That can keep other characters from showing their best side.  But what the hell – Riddick is back, and that’s more than good enough for me.

7 of 10

Monday, February 17, 2014

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