Riddick review

David Twohy
Vin Diesel
Jordi Molla
Matt Nable
Katee Sackhoff
Rated: R

If you enjoy stories about a boy and his dog, the first 45 minutes of “Riddick” might work for you.

“Riddick” is the third installment in the sci-fi series that started well with “Pitch Black” in 2000, yet took a turn for the worse with “The Chronicles of Riddick” a few years later. The latest feature takes place an unspecified amount of time after Chronicles, the title character, Riddick (Diesel), has been betrayed and is left for dead on a planet that appears to be a barren wasteland.

As Riddick reconnects with his survival skills in the wilderness, he meets an alien dog that he trains and they wander the planet. Eventually our protagonist comes across an old outpost for mercenaries and he sets off a beacon to the stars. This results in bounty hunters coming down to capture Riddick, who is a wanted criminal. However, this is the least of all of their problems as dangerous aliens are on the way.

From the get go, “Riddick” throws out Chronicles. A couple flashbacks on how Riddick was betrayed is all that’s given (and a small cameo from Karl Urban who was there for about 30 seconds). Diesel’s character even says in the film that he is resetting the clock, much like he is resetting the franchise. Although, after this, there may not be another outing for Riddick.

The plot feels disjointed and all over the place. There’s no real arc or major build-up, more or less, things just happen along the way. The first section of the film is basically Riddick trying to survive on his own. The second is him against the bounty hunters and the final third feels like a rehash of “Pitch Black,” just not as good.

To be fair, the film does entertain just enough to keep one’s attention. Watching Riddick sort of go “back to basics” when surviving in the wild does have some cool moments, and him tricking his opponents with being able to see in the dark is enjoyable. Yet comparing it to other sci-fi/action flicks, it just doesn’t hold up.

Surprisingly, I was expecting more of a sci-fi/horror element to be more prominent, but it hardly even showed up. The movie doesn’t exactly do much to earn its R rating.

The actors did provide some laughs, not exactly because there was funny dialogue, but more because the performances felt hammy and too over-the-top. It’s not believable and you can’t take it seriously, the problem is that it isn’t exactly trying to be humorous in a sort of tongue-in-cheek way.

Vin Diesel once again returns as Riddick and just basically talks at a lower tone than he usually does. He is an easy enough protagonist to root for in the movie, a classic anti-hero type, and Diesel plays the role alright, the writing is just really weak.

It’s weak for the rest of the actors too. For example Jordi Molla and Matt Nable (each playing the leader of two different bounty hunter crews) have some bad dialogue to deliver in their scenes.

Even the CGI was bad in the movie. I can deal with poor CGI when the movie surrounding it is good, for example what “District 9” did with the Prawn aliens. However, here the movie isn’t that good, and that makes the special effects that much more noticeable.

“Riddick” feels very much like a straight to DVD type of film. It has some nice moments here and there, but as a whole, the film is barely average at best. The acting, for the most part, is sub par, the CGI looks bad, the film didn’t seem to have a cohesive direction, and even the action at times was just things that we’ve seen before.

The movie could have possibly been better if it had been more focused, if they had worked more with the sci-fi horror element and made the story revolve more around the third act for example. This is one that you wait for on home video to rent. 2 out of 5.

Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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