Movie Review: ‘Riddick’

Riddick Movie Review Starring Vin Diesel
Vin Diesel stars in 'Riddick' (Photo © 2013 Universal Pictures)

“Don’t know how many times I’ve been left for dead, so this ain’t nothing new,” says wanted escaped convict Riddick (Vin Diesel) who’s been left for dead on a desolate sun-scorched planet in this third entry of the science fiction franchise, Riddick.

Struggling against the elements and fighting extremely dangerous alien lifeforms, Riddick soon realizes his only hope for survival is to escape from this deadly planet. Activating an emergency beacon, Riddick alerts two different groups of bounty hunters who quickly land on the planet looking to capture and kill Riddick so they can cash in on their bounty.

The first ship is led by Santana (Jordi Molla) and has a small handful of mercenaries who seem to be tougher and more violent than any bounty hunters Riddick has gone up against before. The second ship is led by Boss Johns (Matt Nable), a man who has a special interest in Riddick and has been hunting him for years for very personnel reasons. With a storm on the horizon that will ultimately lead to the unveiling of the most lethal aliens on the planet once the rain arrives, Riddick knows that time is running out him and his only friend – a weird but loyal animal he trained as a young pup that’s almost a cross between a coyote and a tiger – to con, trick, intimidate, and, of course, fight their way off the inhospitable planet.

Slow and lacking in originality, Riddick is an uninspired retake on the original film Pitch Black which started the series back in 2000. Once again the anti-hero is fighting creatures who prefer darkness to hunt in (although this time they love the water as well), and yes the bounty hunters will need to trust and work with Riddick if they hope to have any chance of surviving, much like the pilot and passengers who survived the space crash in the first film. One of the major differences is that in Pitch Black there was some character development, but here in Riddick all the characters are barely one-dimensional.

The film also lifts ideas from much better and more original science fiction films such as Enemy Mine, I Am Legend and Dune, from part of the look of the planet to the friendship between Riddick and his Beastdog.

The special effects are impressive and much stronger than Pitch Black, with the water aliens looking disgusting and extremely deadly. The Beastdog is given enough personality – even though it’s only a CGI special effect – that the best part of the film is with Riddick training and interacting with his loyal companion.

Tedious and unexciting, Riddick is a perfect example of a movie sequel which is completely unnecessary because it’s nothing more than a reworking/retelling of the original film.

GRADE: D

Riddick opens in theaters on September 6, 2013 and is rated R for strong violence, language and some sexual content/nudity.

– By Kevin Finnerty

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