In early 2000, before the world has exposed to the acting prowess of Vin Diesel, Pitch Black was released. It wasn’t a perfect movie, but had the makings of a sci-fi cult classic. Four years later, the sequel, The Chronicles of Riddick came out and surprised fans of the original movie by changing the look and feel of the series completely. Pitch Black was essentially a survival/monster movie in space, and Chronicles had Riddick fight against an evil empire of war-hungry men.
Now, director David Twohy has cut the abundance of characters and is once again focusing on the main character with the cleverly-titled “Riddick.”
As the movie begins, we see that Riddick is abandoned and bloodied on a desolate planet. Through vague flashbacks, we see how he came into the dire situation. As he regains his strength, he summons bounty hunters to the planet to try and catch him, though his ulterior motive is to steal one of their ships and find his home planet. Two groups of bounty hunters arrive, both with different motives in capturing Riddick. Before long, everyone’s plans are ruined as a never-ending swarm of scorpion creatures seeks them out.
There were some very interesting directorial choices in this movie. The first 20 minutes depict Riddick as Castaway (everyone’s favorite Tom Hanks movie) on Mars. He fights wild creatures and adapts to the threats surrounding him. Besides the Vin Diesel voiceover making it sound like meathead journal entries, it was good to see Riddick in an uncertain environment, constantly fighting for survival.
However, when the bounty hunters arrive, your interest will leave. For the next hour they set up camp and wait for Riddick to come to them. This storyline could have easily been cut in half and the movie would have been stronger for it. But instead of Riddick taking these mercenaries out one by one, he barely shows up in the movie. Honestly, I think people will be a little disappointed that the character Riddick only appears in half of his self-titled movie. Instead, we see the bounty hunters bicker amongst each other. In most movies, they call that character development, but you will sit there asking, “Why haven’t these guys been killed yet? They’re outliving their usefulness to the story.”
The major issue with Riddick is not the bad monologues, dialogue or even Diesel. It’s that it was billed as a return to Pitch Black form by showing a group of people surviving an alien beast assault, but instead the movie is just plain boring.
Remember the alien monsters promised in the trailers? They show up for the last half-hour and are very underwhelming. In fact, they don’t pose that much of a threat.
I honestly think this movie could have been more simple and that would have made it better for fans. The lead hunter brings up a strange plot line about Riddick being responsible for his grown son’s death. It adds filler, but not much else. Also, here’s some advice for Johns, the lead hunter. If a thug betrays you by pushing your skybike off a cliff, you probably shouldn’t trust him 30 seconds later only for him to betray you again.
Katee Sackhoff (Battlestar Galactica) plays a oft-mentioned lesbian mercenary who is swooned by Riddick because, why not? It’s rare that I’d hope to see more of Diesel in a movie, but I like this character far more than the Dom character in the Fast/Furious series.
You do get to see Riddick in all his battle glory in the last half hour, but it seems strange that the movie waits so long to show what audiences are paying to see.
This movie doesn’t have the intensity of Pitch Black, nor the mass appeal of Chronicles. It’s easily the weakest of the Riddick series. Unless you are a die-hard Riddick fan, skip this one.