I was really looking forward to seeing Riddick, so much so that I purposely avoided everything written about it just in case it tainted my perception or ruined any elements of the movie for me. If I’m honest, now that I have seen it, I realise I needn’t have bothered.
Lauded as a picture that would herald the franchise’s return to the subtle glory of the Pitch Black days, Riddick was rumoured to be a project that would delight those fans who enjoyed the original and were left wanting more by the subsequent Chronicles. I was surprised and slightly impressed by the news that Vin Diesel himself had to continue funding the film personally in order for it to reach its completion. It is obvious that Riddick is a character close to his heart, and so he probably should be, as he is by far the most challenging and prolific role Diesel has played in his intermittent career.
The first thirty minutes or so of Riddick were quite enjoyable. Betrayed and left for dead on quite the inhospitable planet, Riddick attempts to overcome his injuries while simultaneously fighting off vicious alien creatures that are all intent on having him for lunch. At this point I am struck by two things. Firstly, if I was ever in any doubt as to just how badass Riddick is, it was completely vanquished in this opening piece. He is hardcore. And secondly, every planet this dude steps onto wants to kill him. And they’re all populated with scary nasties. But this is good, because this is what we want to see in a Riddick film. It is predominantly silent, with little to no speaking apart from a narrative, and while this could be seen as a risky maneuver, I thought it was done rather well.
It doesn’t last though. After overcoming a few personal challenges and befriending a hell beast he unfortunately moves on from solitary and the dialogue starts. We’re introduced to a group of primarily stereotypical mercenary/bounty hunter type folks who we know the majority of will be Planet Nasty fodder and will provide ample opportunity for Riddick to show us just how cunning he is. Initially I was delighted to find out that Katee Sackhoff would be present, playing a sniping bounty hunter by the name of Dahl, but I feel she was grossly misused in this movie. Matthew Nable’s performance as Big Johns left a lot to be desired too, and I wasn’t at all convinced by him. At this point I’m disappointed at the realisation that there will be no more Karl Urban.
I’m dismayed by the obvious stupidity of the group and how easy it is for Riddick to manipulate them. That said, while some of the death/kill scenes were riddickulous they were also hilarious and prompted one or two guffaws from yours truly. Parts of it worked, parts of it didn’t. The pacing felt wrong to me and the placement and order of the acts appeared random and without structure. The ending and the climax of the escape felt like it belonged in the middle of the story, and I got the impression that a lot of possibly important scenes must have ended up on the editing room floor in order to keep the run-time just shy of the two hours.
Some things were just not explained to me in an adequate fashion. Like why Johns would return for Riddick after initially abandoning him, for example. Oh, and of course the implication that a lesbian would go straight for Riddick. But who am I kidding, who wouldn’t do a u-turn on their sexuality when the badass anti-hero tells you he likes your boobs and wants to be “balls deep” inside of you?
All of that said, it wasn’t a total flop for me. As always I enjoyed the duality of Riddick’s anti-hero nature, his general BAMF approach to everything and of course, his voice. My mind wandered often as I contemplated his voice…
I feel as though the experience can be summed up with a quote from my brother, who accompanied me to see Riddick: “There are worse things you could spend two hours of your life doing.”
IMDB Rating: 7.1
Do I agree?: No. It’s an adequate, if not slightly dissatisfactory 6 from me.