The third live-action installment of the franchise birthed by 2000’s Pitch Black, Riddick sees Vin Diesel return to the title role along side former WWE Superstar Dave Bautista and Battlestar Galactica‘s Katee Sackhoff. Is it any good?
Is it worth all the hype?
Riddick and Diesel fans certainly have themselves to thank for making this happen, encouraging the star to work to get the rights to the character and push on to make another film after the disappointment that was Chronicles of Riddick. And that isn’t a knock against that film; it isn’t really bad, but it isn’t as good as Pitch Black, and it’s a completely different genre from its predecessor. Riddick, however, returns to the core sci-fi, horror roots of the franchise. This is one of the best things about the movie. Unfortunately, it’s also the biggest flaw.
I spent too much of my time picking out all the parallels this film and the original, and there are quite a few. So many, in fact, that several are directly referenced in the story, by Riddick himself no less. The result is a very predictible and safe bounty hunter vs Riddick narrative that is capped by a swarm of native flesh eaters that precede to wreak havoc on the survivors in the dark. Before all of this though, we get a pretty good intro sequence that reintroduces us to Riddick after becoming king of the Necromongers, complete with Karl Urban cameo. Ultimately, a story that started out as a quest to find Furya turns into Pitch Black, part 2.
Diesel’s performance is still very much spot on as Riddick, though softer and more emotional. This is something even Riddick realizes and takes measures to rectify, though I don’t think keeping pets is an effective way to unleash the beast again (it was a neat character beat for him though). Most of the mercs are exactly what they appear to be and aren’t worth fusing over. Sadly, Sackhoff’s Dahl left me wondering. Sure, she’s hot, and every now and then a cheesecake, nude shot/scene can be fun in beefcake laden macho fest of a film, but this movie isn’t that – Bautista and Diesel are the biggest guys in film, only fight once, and spend very little time without a shirt. Dahl clearly isn’t meant to be a romantic foil for Riddick, so the awkward attempts at sexual tension between the two is silly, as is her constant need to fight off pervy mercs. Matt Nable’s Johns isn’t as cool as his son Johns from Pitch Black. His motivations are familiar enough, but seriously, why wouldn’t he be more interested in the money he could get from taking down Riddick? He’d have to do the work of bringing him in to get the answers he wants anyway, he should probably want a little pay to sweeten that bitter cup.
All-in-all, I had fun watching the movie. It’s certainly a welcome improvement on the second film in the franchise, but the original continues to be the best of the live-actin trilogy.