Release Date: 9/6/2013
Directed by: David Twohy
The Plot: Trapped alone on an inhospitable alien world, Riddick must find a way to combat the local wildlife while conditioning himself into the man he was in The Chronicles of Riddick. Along his journey he domesticates a wolf for company and discovers that the entire planet is about to be overpopulated by venomous swamp monsters. His only course of action is to send up a flair by means of a rescue beacon and call in the inevitable bounty-hunting teams still trying to tag-him-and-bag-him from the last episode. Among the bounty hunters who arrive are a group of space pirates dead set on taking Riddick's head as a trophy, and another group lead by a man who has a link to Riddick's past.
But who is actually hunting who? And more importantly... why does this all seem so familiar??
The Film: The opening of this wildly stupid movie has our anti-hero, Dick Riddick, (I'm not making that up by the way, this character's full name is Richard B. Riddick - I'm assuming the "B" stands for "Baadasssssssssss") lies injured on a savage, barren world. His leg is broken. He's forced to eat carrion birds to sustain himself while packs of alien wolves and swamp monsters chastise his perseverance.
As Vin B. Diesel says in his obligatory, heavily-graveled voice-over for Riddick's opening: "Sometimes you have bad days.... sometimes you have automatically bad days... today is one of those days."
It's a long, lucent chunk of the movie, and if a viewer squints their eyes hard enough they can almost see the opening of Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey in the first twenty minutes of David Twohy's new Riddick film - except running in reverse. The baboons struggle for a place on the food chain on the sub-Saharan African plain while slowly de-evolving into reptiles, then into pollywogs, and finally into a single-cell fungus that no amount of highly concentrated cleaning solution or bleach could ever hope to scrub off the surface of existence.
I use this Space Odyssey analogy not just to illustrate the sinking feeling I felt that this movie was slowly wading into waters both foul and shallow, but to also point out that this film was, in fact, metamorphosing into Twohy's first Riddick adventure, Pitch Black, right in front of my eyes. We were moving backward in our tale - not forward.
So Riddick returns to his savage roots in an effort to reawaken the inner-animal he lost sitting on the throne of the Necromongers and bedding a rich supply of nubile goth-tarts before being betrayed by Vaako, (played by Karl Urban, who pops in this sequel for a single flashback scene, politely excuses himself from the franchise, and then must assuredly retire to go weep softly in his trailer that there may never be another Dredd movie in his lifetime but he's managed to land speaking roles in two Riddick movies) and marooned on a hostile planet with only his Oakley sunglasses and fifty pounds of fresh muscle to keep him alive. On his journey inward he meets, and domesticates, an alien wolf, (one of the more embarrassing stretches of this sequel) and the two wander and get into adventures together before realizing that the rainy season is coming, and with it billions of poisonous swamp scorpions who thrive in the wet.
Which leads us to act two.... Pitch Black Redux. Aka: Stinging in the Rain.
Which is where Katee Sackhoff and two teams of bounty-hunters enter the story, and whatever glimmer of hope that this film may rise above its dependence on green room effects work immediately terminates the second one of these action figures opens their mouths to speak.
In keeping with the 2001: A Space Odyssey metaphor, if there is a monolith in Riddick III, surely it is the screenplay for the movie - towering over it, matte black and impenetrable. We may discover ourselves scratching our shaggy heads and wondering: Where did this script come from? What cruel, incalculable intelligence crammed these words into sentences, ("What is this..? A game of retard bingo?") these ideas into scenes? How long will it continue on???
The answer is.... two hours.
Even Vin Diesel jumps out of the narrative for what seems like a third of the motion picture - which opens up the third-tier cast to sing the praises of Dick Riddick for forty minutes during his sabbatical. I would also add that it feels like a full fifteen minutes of this film is dedicated to slow-motion shots of Riddick diving through the air. It seems that gravity - as well as pace - mean absolutely nothing to Riddick.
This isn't just a bad action movie - it's a bad action movie with an extremely fat ass.
On the plus side Battlestar Galactica fanboys finally get to see Starbuck topless. But it's a maternal side-boob shot, which is yet another reminder that even in its distribution of coveted celebrity skin, Riddick still manages to find a way to disappoint.
The Verdict: Riddick is a movie for slobs. For people who chomp their food with their mouths open. For people who walk around with their pants unzipped. For people who sneeze into the open air with no consideration for the health and comfort of others. If it feels like I'm making this personal.... I am. David Twohy's Riddick is that bad.
No more please.