Movie Review: ‘Riddick’

 

Vin Diesel stars in the sci-fi action film “Riddick,” the sequel to “Pitch Black” and “The Chronicles of Riddick.”

If you haven’t heard of those movies, it’s probably because they both came out a decade ago. If you have, you’re more than likely excited for the sequel to two genuinely enticing, if not necessarily “award-worthy” movies.

Riddick (Diesel) is the single most brutal and capable criminal mankind has ever known, aided by eyes that can see in the dark and a seemingly inhuman strength and force of will. Left for dead on a harsh planet where everything is designed to kill, Riddick struggles to survive and escape.

The stage is set for a phenomenal science fiction experience, but does “Riddick” live up to the expectations of a ten-year gestation period?

Review by Staff Writer Nat Edson
Review by Staff Writer Nat Edson

In short, yes. The first film, “Pitch Black,” was a triumph and a groundbreaking movie, capturing the tone of James Cameron’s “Aliens” while having the active punch of any movie with Diesel in it.

The sequel, by contrast, sought to have a more involved story that told us more about the world in which the films take place and went for an entirely different mood many found far less enjoyable.

“Riddick” returns to the dark and uncivilized attitude of “Pitch Black,” even going so far as to have an opening piece of exposition analogous to the series’ rocky journey.

The film almost immediately dives head first into the action, showing Riddick’s triumphs and fights in a harsh environment.

Eventually, two groups of mercenaries arrive to capture the criminal, and the plot expands to include their stories and struggles.

While shallow at first blush, these extra characters soon show a depth that belies the expected focus on the titular character, and we come to genuinely care about what happens to many of them.

The cast is enhanced by the presence of Dave Batista and Katee Sackhoff, more commonly known for her role as Kara Thrace on “Battlestar Galactica.” Both display superb acting where it is totally unexpected, particularly Batista, whose character has some of the best one-liners of the movie.

The rest of the cast does just as well, taking seemingly minor roles and breathing life into them.

Needless to say, the action and effects of the film are superb. If you’ve seen the trailer, you already know the level of CGI present throughout the film, and it only gets better when you get actual shots of the alien landscape and the grotesque creatures that dot the world.

The fighting is visceral, dramatic and never boring. Slow motion, a gimmick often used to excess by more novice films, is used sparingly in this one, giving the moments that do use it more weight than might otherwise be expected.

An important point to note is the film is not well represented by the trailer. It would have you believe that the majority of the film is about Riddick being captured by mercenaries and the group fighting off nightmarish creatures dead set on killing them.

While this is obviously an important part of the film, there is much more going on. A large part of the movie takes place leading up to these events, and they are exceptionally well done and should not be overlooked.

I thoroughly enjoyed “Riddick.” The director knew what he wanted it to be and was self-aware enough not to make the same mistakes many other directors do with movies of its caliber.

The acting was far better than expected, aided by solid writing and enticing action sequences.

Are there things I would have changed if I were nitpicking? Sure, but at the end of the day, it’s a solid movie I would definitely recommend and look forward to seeing again.

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