Riddick’s (Vin Diesel) back and has abandoned the Necromongers’ world of “The Chronicles of Riddick” in hopes of returning to his home planet. Deceived and left injured and alone on an unnamed wasteland planet, Riddick is forced to trigger a beacon in a mercenary safe house to hail a ship after survival seems impossible when a monstrous raincloud approaches (seriously, the rain brings monsters). After spending almost half of the film teaching the mercenaries a lesson, including the father (Matt Nable) of Johns from “Pitch Black,” Riddick must face the monsters in the rain in order to prepare to fly away.
“Riddick” recycles a plot so similar to the first film in the series, “Pitch Black,” it becomes more of a remake, with myriad special effects thanks to its bigger budget, than a sequel. 1. Riddick is proven to be a creepy, ruthless murderer. 2. A team of stereotypes tries to capture him. 3. The team has to join forces with Riddick since he’s most qualified to battle monsters in the dark. 4. He impresses the woman that shouldn’t be attracted to him. The cliché group features a perverted, villainous boss (Jordi Molla), a lesbian that obviously just hasn’t found the right man to turn her straight (Katee Sackhoff, playing the more offensive stereotype than Molla’s rapist), a religious youth (Nolan Gerard Funk), and numerous token muscle men (David Bautista, Bokeem Woodbine, etc.). The lesbian’s name is Dahl, coincidentally pronounced “doll” to regress her empowered female strength. After “The Chronicles of Riddick,” writer/director David Twohy has clearly figured out that audiences don’t really want a story; the testosterone-hungry viewers want a violent murderer with a smidgen of good in his heart placed in a predictable situation while performing insane stunts.
Twohy obviously learned that Riddick just doesn’t fit into society, so he returns him to a wasteland planet to fight and prove his superiority. In “Pitch Black,” Riddick hunts the team trying to round him up, but the exact same process (with shots of Riddick always being somehow invisible but extremely close to the other characters) turns into a cheesy horror film. Also, the first twenty to thirty minutes of the film are spent showing off how tough Riddick is; he trains a wild dog, sets his broken leg, manages a tolerance to poison, and fights all sorts of monstrous beings all before decapitating someone without the use of his hands, cauterizing a wound, and kicking David Bautista’s butt by the end.
There are a few scenes of action awesomeness in “Riddick,” but most of the film is “riddickulous” (the clever word borrowed from Graham Young of Birmingham Mail). It’s a movie of muscles, including Charles Bronson-looking Matt Nable (a former rugby player) and “Battlestar Galactica” star Katee Sackhoff along with well-known Dave Bautista and Vin Diesel. The background story tying to the last film is a complete waste (even with using Karl Urban) and only adds more unnecessary narration. David Twohy started off great with “The Arrival” and “Pitch Black” but he hasn’t learned that some of the most impressive sci-fi films work best when they minimize their budget rather than going for overkill. [Sidenote: what’s up with his obsession with scorpions?]
Rating for “Riddick:” D+
For more information on this film or to view its trailer, click here.
“Riddick” is playing at many theaters in Columbus, including Movie Tavern and Gateway. For showtimes, click here.