When Pitch Black burst into theaters in 2000 and introduced the world to Riddick and in turn Vin Diesel, it came as no shock that they moved forward with more adventures. Sadly the bigger budget follow-up Chronicles of Riddick didn’t get the same reception so it seemed we had seen the last of everyone’s favorite Furyan, but thanks to some smart business decisions and passion for the character Diesel and director Twohy have delivered an all-new adventure aptly titled Riddick, but does it return to what made the character great or continue on with the larger scale cluttered world?
Riddick follows Furyan Riddick who has been betrayed and left for dead on a desolate planet fighting for survival against the deadly predators. But with something more dangerous on the horizon, Riddick sends out a distress beacon in hopes to bring bounty hunters to the planet for his escape, but those seeking a bounty and revenge walks into Riddick’s vicious vengeance and become the hunted. With this latest installment they streamlined it back to more like Pitch Black and delivered a film miles above the previous entry. While it isn’t quite as good as Pitch Black, it still brings everything you could have wanted from this type of film. The first half of the film is easily the best spending one on one time with Riddick as he struggles to survive. There are a few moments during this time that helps to effectively and simply explain how he got from ruling a planet to being near death on this planet. When the bounty hunters come things shift gears a bit and it feels more like the original film with Riddick somewhat knocked to the back allowing these mercenaries to take center stage. This is where some of the things don’t work as much as most of their performances are pretty bad with the exception of Bookem Woodbine, the always badass Katee Sackhoff and beast of a man Dave Bautista. Sackhoff is easily the coolest of the bunch and while not given as much time with the action as she deserves still manages to make sure you know she’s not playing around. Bautista is slowly establishing himself as a force to be reckoned with on the big screen with this his last and successful test run before bringing Marvel’s Drax to life.
The rest of the mercenaries just don’t work all that well but mostly due to performances and cheesy dialogue. Diesel dives right back into the character like he never left showing a true passion he has for the character. Sure there are some cheesy moments from him, but that is part of the fun of the character. Well that and his complete bad ass look and ability to kill everyone and everything around him. The CGI was decent for most of the movie with the only real issue being the dog-like creature that was a central character. At first it was easy to dismiss them, but with one becoming a major player alongside Riddick it needed a little extra time spent to get more realism to the character. That being said with the streamlined budget to the film it is easy to let it go and just enjoy the old school science fiction aspect to the overall film. Sure there are some ridiculous moments and decisions made by some of the characters, but part of that is the charm of it all.
The story here is pretty simple, but they did an interesting job of adding elements to connect this latest addition with both Pitch Black and Chronicles will letting it be its own movie. Diesel risked a lot to get Riddick back on the big screen and looks like it paid off. Returning to the roots of the character and making sure to include both throw away characters as well as badass ones that work made for an entertaining genre film. Hopefully this will be the return to this cool character and we can get more adventures that will hopefully continue to keep them simple as that’s what makes the character so cool.