A flaw with most sequels is they usually end up simply being a rehash of their predecessor. A few characters and maybe the settings change, but the overall plot and storyline enjoy about as much change as a tone deaf street performer. While this is a major drawback for most films, Vin Diesel’s latest venture as the ex-convict anti-hero “Riddick,” borrows heavily from its origin story, “Pitch Black,” and that’s what makes it an enjoyable return foray into the exploits of the “shine-jobbed” Furyan.
When last we saw our protagonist, he had been crowned Lord Marshall of the galaxy-dominating Necromongers. The film, “Chronicles of Riddick,” had leapt far away from its relatively humble origins of “Pitch Black,” inundating us with multiple worlds, an exhaustive cast of characters, and a layered storyline meant to reflect the increase in production budget. While this does not mean “Chronicles” was a bad sequel, it drew some focus away from the titular character and lacked the simple appeal a small cast engaged in a fight for survival can bring.
Similar to cult classics like “Night of the Living Dead,” “Pitch Black” put a small-and-getting-smaller ensemble into a nightmarish yet straightforward struggle to outlast the night while securing escape. “Riddick” brought back that delightful simplicity.
“Riddick’s” return only comes after first tying the film to the end of “Chronicles.” Left for dead by one of his minions in a plot hatched by Lord Vaako (Karl Urban), Riddick is broken and fighting against a hostile landscape and even more hostile wildlife.
Over a period of presumably years, Riddick makes his way to safer ground and stumbles across an old mercenary station. Activating the beacon, he entices bounty hunters and mercenaries to come in search of him so he can procure one of their ships to make it off world.
What transpires is a humorous and energizing set of sequences as Riddick picks off or threatens to pick off the two crews one man at a time. This portion of the film is like watching an Aliens movie but rooting for the xenomorphs.
Nature, like in “Pitch Black,” turns out to be everyone’s enemy, however, as night and rain both begin to fall, unearthing legions of nightmarish monsters. The characters soon realize their only hope for survival is escape and their only hope for escape is each other.
Although there are a few moments when the visual effects do not live up to the standards set by the rest of the film, and there are a few moments of unnecessary gore, “Riddick” nevertheless treats the eyes throughout and balances action with decent performances from the entire cast. The best part of it all is the knowledge that Vin Diesel’s Richard B. Riddick is more than likely to continue his search for his home world of Furya and we’ll be invited along on the quest.
Ammo Dump rating: 7 out of 10 horse tranquilizers
(Rated R; 118 min.)
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