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Movie Review: 'Riddick' (2013)

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Riddick (movie)

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After years in development hell, 'Riddick', the third in the series of Vin Diesel starring sci-fi/horror came out in 2013.

The fact that it was made in the first place is curious. The original film in the series, 'Pitch Black' debuted in 2000. It was a modest success, which spawned the 2004 sequel 'The Chronicles Of Riddick.'

That film was a massive misfire with audiences and critics and a box office dud. So given that inauspicious follow-up, there wasn't exactly a huge demand for another sequel, yet here we are almost 10 years later with 'Riddick.'

Like the previous two films, its directed by David Twohy, but whatever skills he showed in 'Pitch Black' feels non-existent in this truly awful third installment.

If the initial pull for a third film was its small but vocal fanbase, then 'Riddick' is a slap in the face to those super fans.

The plot is a clear return to the style and setting of 'Pitch Black'; Riddick is exiled on an unfriendly, desolate planet, where creepy crawlies attack once the sun goes down. It's a cheap knockoff of the original, and unlike that film, which had some novel scares, a tight plot, and interesting creatures, 'Riddick' has numbskull dialogue and special effects that are only a scant step above a Syfy original movie.

Early scenes show Riddick trying to adapt to his new world, accompanied by a cheap CGI looking dog-creature. It's a poor attempt to show the softer side of Vin Diesel's character.

Later on, Riddick is pursued by a group of bounty hunters, who in the end need his assistance to survive the alien assault.

The dialogue is laughable; (one example; the brutish mercenaries call Riddick's 'pet' a 'dingo dongo'.) And there's only so much ham-fisted machismo from a group of dudes jockeying for alpha male position that one can stomach in a film. If you can watch the film without rolling your eyes you should be commended.

The lone female presence is a bounty hunter played by 'Battlestar Galactica's' Katee Sackoff, who's shoehorned in an unconvincing bit of sexual tension with Riddick. Why she'd be turned on by his grade school come-on is just another of many implausible aspects to the plot.

There's also a touch of continuity to the first film by a tangential character, whose name is punctuated by very dramatic music, but even most diehard fans will likely need to IMDB the character to know who he's connected to. It leads to a painful conclusion that just doesn't wash.

The biggest cardinal sin that 'Riddick' (and its predecessor) makes, is the assumption that it's Diesel's character that made the initial installment a success. When in truth, it was the novel plot. Riddick worked as part of an ensemble. But he tanks a film when he's front and center.

After all these years, Diesel is still a limited actor who emotes little beyond his gravelly, guttural delivery and warmed over charisma. Let's just hope they don't go for a fourth installment.

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