September 12, 2013
Riddick (** 1/2) R
Riddick is, as I’m sure most you reading this are well aware, the third installment in a series of films that began a long time ago, relatively speaking. Such a long time ago in fact that when the first film, Pitch Black, was released, Bill Clinton was the president and the events of 9/11 had yet to transpire. That first outing was modestly budgeted in the $30 million dollar range and wound up grossing quite a substantial bit more than its cost. It served to introduce us to the character of Riddick (Vin Diesel), a transported prisoner who has the gift of sight at night (hey, what do ya know, that rhymes). Riddick, along with two others, crash-lands on a creature-infested planet with three suns. Riddick saves the day when the sunlight-hating creatures come out to play during a solar eclipse.
Four years later Riddick came back, along with the original film’s director, David Twohy, for a bloated $100 million plus action film that found our hero on the lam from a bunch of bounty hunters.
Vin Diesel as Riddick
It didn’t reach the financial heights of the original film, in terms of cost to profit, and it was doubtful that Riddick would ever grace film screens again. Then actor Vin Diesel saw his stock rise with the success of the Fast and the Furious films, allowing him to use his clout to get another Riddick film off the ground. Which brings us to the subject of the current Riddick film. I will admit that the original Pitch Black, although not a great film, was certainly a decent one and had its charms. The second film did nothing for me and I think its bloated budget may have played a role in that.
I’m happy to report that the third film has been scaled back, money-wise, to the level of the first film. I think this is a good thing. Mainly, because it has forced David Twohy (back again behind the camera) and star Vin Diesel to be a little bit more creative in terms of what’s onscreen as the money isn’t flowing from the coffers like a decade ago. It works in the film’s favor. Though Riddick isn’t nearly as interesting as the original film, it’s thankfully closer in tone to the initial installment. In the new film, Riddick is stranded on a seemingly lifeless planet as the film opens. He’s got his hands full dealing with some sort of predatory alien creatures and this takes up most of the first section.
If the film had kept going in this direction things might have turned out okay but then two bounty hunters (again!!!) show up and the film collapses in a sea of predictability from which it never recovers. The good news for Riddick fans is that this newest installment ends with the potential for new Riddick adventures should the latest film score with fans. As for me, I found it to be much better than what I expected but I guess that’s faint praise. Fans, however, will ultimately be the judge of Riddick’s fate, not me.
Riddick is playing at the Carmike in Hickory, and many area theaters.
Next week, Adam reviews The Spectacular Now, Insidious: Chapter 2 and The Family.
Comments or questions? Write Adam: firstname.lastname@example.org