Earlier this year, Vin Diesel really brought his A-Game and delivered one of the most enjoyable films that I’ve ever seen; Fast and Furious 6! Now, Diesel returns to a series that he had left to start another few series. He now brings us Ridick, the third installment in The Chronicles of Riddick series. What’s special about Riddick, is that his unique eyes allow him to see in the dark, making him a threat to most prey at night. Can Vin Diesel come back to this role after a nine year gap? Can he recreate an interesting franchise story that will get people to go see the film? Well, I don’t entirely think so…
Riddick opens with some voice-over narration from Riddick (Vin Diesel) himself. He takes us through the story of how he ended up on a nameless and barren planet. He was once King of Necromongers, but he was betrayed when supposedly heading to his home and he was left for dead. Now, he’s severely injured and stranded with no way off the planet. One of the first shots of the movie is an injured and incapacitated Riddick kill a vulture-like creature with just his hand. He then, painfully snaps his leg back into place.
As he surveys this landscape, he encounters a few more different, deadly creatures. Among them include a mixture of a dog and a wolf, eels and a scorpion creature that has more to it than meets the eye. These creatures are blocking the path to the “nicer” part of the land and Riddick has to train and gain back his strength to defeat them. So, he begins to understand his surroundings and creates traps and mechanisms to help defeat these evil creatures. Before he eventually makes it to the other side, he cares for a puppy-wolf and it soon becomes his companion.
As Riddick and this quickly growing pup travel the desolate planet, they come across a station in the middle of a desert. Upon further inspection, Riddick identifies the station as an outpost for bounty hunters and manages to activate a beacon to get ships to come down to the outpost. So, down comes a group of mercenaries who are sent to kill Riddick. The price for his death is twice that of the price of his life. It’s now that we meet Santana (Jordi Molla), the leader of these mercenaries, who has no problem with Riddick knowing that his head will end up in a box. As Santana’s crew sets up surveillance bots and inhabits the outpost, a second ship comes in with a crew full of new and improved galactic hunters, lead by Boss Johns (Matt Nable). Johns, it turns out, has a history with Riddick and that history is discovered as the film progresses.
While the two groups butt heads, Riddick skilfully and secretly manages to infiltrate the site and learn more about who is after him. In some cool scenes, we see him take out mercenaries one by one during the night. His use of clever traps and misdirection makes him even more deadly. When Riddick manages to get his hands on the two ships power nodes, that’s when things really start kicking up. Riddick forces the groups to band together to fight off incoming alien scorpions that accompany thunderstorms on this planet. Reluctant at first, the groups chain Riddick up and are about to kill him, when these alien creatures begin to attack. Now, it’s up to Riddick and the crews to fight off these Scorpio foe and get off the planet as fast as they can.
There are a lot of things wrong about this movie. First off, this film is almost an exact replica of Pitch Black, the first film in this series. Riddick having to stay alive and band together with mercenaries to save the day. Them, this movie has some of the worst set design and CGI that I’ve seen all year. It’s clear where the set ends and the green screen begins. There is also a ton of cheesy and sexual dialog that has no reason to be there. With it gone, I might have taken this film a bit more seriously. Lastly, who can forget this films striking resemblance to the groundbreaking horror/action SciFi epic, Aliens.
In Aliens, clueless and clumsy mercenaries band together to kill of swarming alien creatures on a deserted planet. There is cheesy dialog and a lot of one liners in the film too. Mainly, it’s a film all about survival on an unknown planet, where the mercenaries get help from Ripley and a little girl who knows the area and what the Xenomorphs can do. In Riddick, mercenaries rely on the help of a man who knows the area and knows what the creatures are capable of doing. The creatures in Riddick even kind of look like Xenomorphs. Ultimately, this film is about survival on a remote planet. As the film plays out, you can’t help but think of Aliens. Unfortunately, we never get to hear Riddick shout “Get away from her, you bitch”!
The acting in this film is sub par and it didn’t have to be. I’m not sure if the actors knew that they would turn out so ridiculous, but each one fits a certain role or stereotype. There’s a kid who prays to god every chance he gets. There’s a superstitious man who believes that Riddick is more than a man. There is a reckless leader who thinks that he can control everything. There’s a tough female lead, Dahl, who is constantly being hit on, spied on while naked, beaten or told that she’ll perform sexual acts with Riddick. Every typical character is in this film and it’s really dumb.
I am one who enjoyed the Chronicles of Riddick, because it actually told a story. This film begins with a story and then it’s quickly abandoned as the film shifts into a survivalist theme. No one really gains anything from surviving and the lack of story structure doesn’t lend you a hand when it comes to understanding why all this happened. Between Vin Diesel’s barely audible voice, cheesy graphics, no plot in sight, awful characters and ultimately a copy of Pitch Black and Aliens, Riddick fails to live up to expectations, if it had any to begin with. There were entertaining action sequences, some good laughter and some of the survivalist aspects of the film were cool, but other than that, this is a poorly made film that you will forget a week later. My recommendation is that you watch Aliens, instead of this awful movie.