Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Riddick-ulously cool

Returning to his Pitch Black roots, Vin Diesel's
Riddick is a surprisingly fun, if not familiar, action flick


ARTH VADER (AV): Vin Diesel's Riddick returns for a third big screen adventure in Riddick, the movie meant to not-so-subtly re-boot the Riddick franchise. Though based on a series of books I have NOT read, this richly detailed and highly acclaimed series of books is highly regarded but I cannot speak to the alignment of the this movie to the books (Ironic I know because this section is call  "On Continuity"). This Riddick feels like the character that was so richly portrayed in 2000's Pitch Black. While I did enjoy the second film, I found 2004's The Chronicles of RIddick too cumbersome and too hard  to follow, though I understand it followed the book quite closely. The RIddick universe is complex indeed with direct-to-video installments, Video-games and books all contributing, it makes for a complicated history for Riddick, wouldn't you say, Pontificator? 

THE PONTIFICATOR (TP): I agree Vader, and I also have not read any of the books. This film takes place directly after the events in “Chronicles of Riddick.” As far as continuity goes, this movie sticks with everything that has come before it (with strong ties to “Pitch Black”)... even giving Karl Urban a bit part just to make sure all the dots are connected.

AV: In Riddick, Vin Diesel returns to the franchise he now owns (I will speak to that point shortly). This film holds such a rich sci-fi roll call it was hard not to 'geek out' right there in the theater. Bad-ass Battlestar fan-fav Katie "Starbuck" Sackhoff is an intensely fierce–though admittedly one dimensional–bounty hunter named Dahl. We also get a lightening-fast screen cameo from Karl "McCoy" Urban (Judge Dredd, Star Trek) and Steve Bautista (Drax The Destroyer from next summer's Guardians of The Galaxy) as another bounty hunting bad boy. The deadly sun-scorched environment, while almost entirely CGI, was fun to look at and the cinematic vision of sci-fi director ace David Twohy (Pitch Black, The Fugitive) was on point to keep viewers engaged and the story moving. P-Man, were you as star struck for Riddick as I was? 

TP: Well Vader,  Vin Diesel is Riddick... do I need to say anything more than that? Oh, right... there were other people in the film. The movie was cast well enough for what it was trying to do (keep Vin Diesel bankable) and although there were no other A-List actors in the film, I noted the talents of two of my personal favorites, Bokeem Woodbine and Katee Sackhoff (Starbuck!!). The direction of the film seemed a tad inconsistent and didn’t maintain the emotional grip the opening sequence commanded. This was probably due to spending too much time developing the other characters, instead of showing me the plethora of ways Riddick could kill them.

AV: Riddick is quite creature-heavy. Flying lizard things, space dogs and giant bipedal scorpions with huge tails and huger teeth delivered a solid sense of uneasiness throughout the film. The alien landscapes were stunning and seeing as *SPOILER ALERT!* The first 30 minutes of this movie is Riddick in the wilds of this harsh world filled with tons of things that want to hunt, dissolve, catch or eat him. The hover bikes introduced about mid-movie (think Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars E2: Attack of The Clones) were cool if not tad trite, and while the film offered really nothing new in the visual effects arena it was fun to watch. Pontificator, thoughts? 

TP: The special effects don’t disappoint... although they don’t break new ground either. The costume designs were very well done and added to the overall look of the film as they contrasted each other, and the harsh environment of the planet the film is set on. The CGI was very nice in all aspects (ships and indigenous life) and I really have no complaints about any of the visuals in the film Vader. Well... aside from it seemingly ripping off itself (Pitch Black), but that’s for the next section.


AV: At some point along the way, Riddick became Dominic Torretto from the Fast & Furious franchise. Riddick narrates this film during segments that I felt needed no narration–or at least a lot less. He also delivers poorly written one-liners and unnecessary tough-guy bravado that brings what could have been a great movie down. Pitch Black–and Riddick–work best when he is quiet, brooding and mysterious. Not full of tough-guy quips and statements like "… when these chains come off, you're gonna be the first to die…" Really Riddick? That's what you've got? While this movie rekindled my fondness of the Riddick character, I could have done without all the machismo. Dominic need not apply (himself). Ponty? 

TP: I hate to be so critical of this film since I really like the character and have enjoyed the two previous films, but some things just can’t be overlooked... like the fact that we’ve already seen this film, when it was called “Pitch Black.” Riddick on a desolate planet with people that fear him, facing imminent danger from the indigenous life that strike en masse when the sun is not shining. Heck, even the monsters are similar, except this time they added poison to the mix. But wait... there’s more! They even linked it directly to the first film by having the father (Boss Johns) of that film’s bounty hunter (William J. Johns) show up to get Riddick believing (and rightly so... but for the wrong reasons) that he is responsible for the death of his son. It’s not that I didn’t like “Pitch Black,” in fact, I loved it. It’s just that I wasn’t counting on watching it again under a different title.

Now I have to speak about two more areas that left me feeling salty. The first is the miraculous healing powers of Riddick, not seen in prior films, that he can heal completely from a broken leg with no medical treatment beyond sticking contaminated screws into his legs. Truly he has become a super man... except for my second salty area that sees Riddick needing to be saved from certain death... a departure from the complete and utter baddass the character has come to be known as. Color me confused... and let me write the next film.


AV: Just like his Fast & Furious persona, Vin Diesel's RIddick will be back. Perhaps this time with a lot less macho and a greater sense of mystery and menace. Honestly, there's too much money to be made not to. Give or take another Necromonger Empire storyline, I really think that Riddick has a lot more in store for us.

TP: As long as Vin Diesel is willing to do them, I’m sure the studio will be willing to make them... provided the profit margin is met. Really though, where else can they go with this? I have some ideas, but I’m not the one making the films. Those in charge seem to be running out of ideas and are content with regurgitating material we have already seen in the franchise. You can only go to that well so much before it runs dry.


ARTH VADER rates Riddick: When all is said and done, this movie holds lots for anyone looking for a good time, some eye-popping action and a host of popular sci-fi actors that bring an interesting chemistry to the big screen. I would even contest that Riddick is the true sequel to Pitch Black. So with a lot of cool characters, impressive effects and a whole lot of attitude, Riddick slips on some light sensitive goggles and pounds seven (7) busted blocks into a harsh, unforgiving alien landscape. 

THE PONTIFICATOR rates Riddick: I’m a fan of Riddick, no question, but I had some reservations with this film that detracted slightly from my overall enjoyment. It was entertaining, but too cliché as it borrowed from the very first film in too many areas and never felt like it was moving in a new direction, just going over old material. That said, Riddick still did what was expected of him, easily taking out seven (7) busted blocks.

Riddick 7 / 10 Busted Blocks 
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1 comment:

  1. Good review Arthur. You know what to expect from a movie starring Vin Diesel, so expect this one to be stupid and fun. That's all.