The other weekend I saw Riddick, the latest film in the Vin Diesel sci-fi series. Riddick first made his appearance in the low budget but well acted and written movie, Pitch Black. It was later followed by a more ‘epic’ Chronicles of Riddick’ which ended with Riddick being at the helm of a race/cult of planet conquering people by the name of the NecroMongers. When rumors and trailers started filling the internet it was rather surprising to learn that the upcoming film didn’t seem to have jack to do with Chronicles. Instead our intergalactic homeboy Riddick was stuck on some godforsaken planet and being hunted by mercenaries. And oh yeah – the planet is teeming with ravenous alien life that apparently has a boundless population. Even though there’s nada mucho to eat on said planet to support their numbers. Yeah…
But, I held out hope because I enjoyed the first two movies in the franchise. To its credit, the movie does explain the why and the how of Riddick no longer being the big chief of the Necromongers and how he ended up stranded. The reason the mercs show up is also rationally explained. Once they get there I thought that the mercs were pretty well developed, at least the leaders of the two respective groups, and the supposed hunt for Riddick on the world could’ve proven to be full of action and suspense. You also had a rivalry between the two merc groups that could’ve been interesting to develop beyond the locker room antics that were in the movie. Instead the writer(s) of the movie settle for a similar idea as in Pitch Black, a horde of alien creatures that come out on a rainy night that force the mercs and Riddick to find a way to escape before becoming chowder for the critters.
Been there – done that, Riddick.
To their credit the writers of the movie do throw in a link to the Pitch Black movie with having the father of the character Johns appear in Riddick. Fans of the first movie will catch onto this, but it’ll probably leave new viewers wondering what the big deal is. There are no flash backs to Pitch Black and it’s resolved in a total of five minutes of dialogue spread over the entire movie. Not exactly a good way to develop back story.
Some of the better parts of the movie involve Riddick by himself on the planet, dealing with the perilous terrain and lifeforms and his own injuries. The scene with him and his ”dog” are very good, too. But at times these seem dragged out as well, like my wife said they could’ve cut 30 minutes from the movie and still gotten their point across.
In the end Riddick is meant to be a bridge between Chronicles and a possible upcoming movie where Riddick apparently finally finds his home world of Furya. That being said I think that Riddick missed a golden opportunity to do something better then the same old same old. Vin Diesel claims that Riddick is about returning to your primal self, what better way to do this then a man vs nature theme rather then what they did?
Overall, Riddick was enjoyable pop corn movie and if you enjoy sci-fi action and weird creatures you’ll have plenty of that. If you’re looking for something fresh then keep looking. I enjoyed it for what it was, but was hoping for something more substantial.