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Movie Review: Riddick (2013)

Movie Review: Riddick (2013)

Closer to Pitch Black in color and adds another chapter to the chronicle.

Riddick movie Poster

The true sequel to Pitch Black.

Pitching back Pitch Black

In 2000, director David Twohy and writers Jim and Ken Wheat gave us Pitch Black. It was the story of a crashed transport that stranded a colorful cast of characters on a barren wasteworld. Among them was Riddick; a dangerous criminal with a surgically-enhanced ability to see in the dark and Johns; the merc-bounty hunter determined the bring Riddick in. Survival of the fittest becomes the focus when the planet is found to be inhabited by dangerous creatures. This movie rose above the sum of its parts by having solid graphics (including the incredible opening crash sequence), well defined characters and a good script with enough pivotal moments and turns to keep us engaged. By the end of the movie, we wanted more Riddick and everyone would be left considering where does he go from here?

 

The Chronicles of Riddick sequel

The creative team reassembles to explore the Riddick character by upping his ‘racial profile’ and expanding the universe on the order of an invading army Helion-bent and Prime-d to conquer and cleanse every world they come across. It was a big departure and left-turn from the vibe and feel of Pitch Black, but still managed to be a solid sci-fi entry. You can say, by movies end, Riddick is placed at the top and there really is- nowhere else left to go.
Return to Riddick

So how do we create a third chapter and return to a tight character focus and leave the sweeping space saga behind? We do this by stripping down the man and getting back to the basics of what made him so engaging in his debut movie, Pitch Black.
Desert planet with abominable creatures? Check

Mixed cast plus expendables? Check

Riddick as the hunted turned hunter? Check

Escaping planet as final act? Check

David Twohy, the Wheat brothers, and screenplay writers Oliver Butcher and Stephen Cornwell pay homage and give fans a treat by showing us more of the Riddick we came to like in Pitch Black. You’ll relive several similar scenes and set ups. It’s enough to give you déjà vu, but doesn’t hit rip-off levels.

The Beasts and the Bounties

For me, I knew my enjoyment level was centered on two questions. How cool are the new monsters and how memorable are the mercs. The monsters lack that Jaws effect because they are exposed early and you don’t really have that ‘wait for it’ build up of tension. Although the creatures are fearsome and numerous enough to warrant true peril whenever they hit the screen, I didn’t have that dread. The movie sagged and slowed in its middle so the monsters become welcomed saviors- literally. Katee Sackhoff [Starbuck in Battlestar Galactica] plays a similar type as Dahl and provides a lot of punch [literally] for this somewhat generic group of expendables. Thrown in are a few other point-at-the-screen-worthy actors playing previous versions of themselves, from other movies. It gives the writers a break in the character development area because you already know what this guy does when they show up in the movie.

The Mercenaries and the Monsters among them.

So we have the dynamic in place. Everyone hunting Riddick and Riddick hunting everyone, the hostile planet we gotta escape and a bunch of monsters trying to eat everything in sight. Is it good? Well yes, it’s another Pitch Black without some of the benefit of having firsts. You know, the first time you see the monsters, the introduction of the Riddick character, the prospect of the planet going dark for the hard-science heads among us. It lacks that sense of discovery and that’s fine for a sequel. Matter of fact that’s how this movie should be thought of. It’s the Pitch Black sequel that is a worthy follow up. And it has the appropriate last thought ‘where do we go from here?’ I hope David Twohy gets a chance to answer because I’m sure it will be interesting.

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  1. September 9, 2013 at 1:09 pm

    Nice review. A very fun movie, even if it was totally stupid. Then again, it’s exactly what I expected.

  2. September 10, 2013 at 5:36 pm

    Reblogged this on Rapper's Delite.

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