The Movie Waffler New Release Review - Riddick | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review - Riddick

Third installment in the 'Pitch Black' series.

Directed by: David Twohy
Starring: Vin Diesel, Karl Urban, Katee Sackhoff, Dave Bautista, Matt Nable, Jordi Molla

Following a doublecross, Riddick (Diesel) finds himself left for dead on a planet seemingly inhabited only by hyena-like creatures and water-dwelling giant scorpions. Finding a remote and deserted outpost, he activates a beacon, planning to steal the spacecraft of whoever answers the distress call. Two separate groups of bounty-hunters arrive, one a rough around the edges bunch led by the sleazy Santana (Molla), the other a clean-cut and well equipped crew under the leadership of Johns (Nable). A game of cat and mouse ensues but time is quickly running out with a storm approaching, bringing with it hundreds of the aforementioned water-dwelling creatures.
2004's 'Chronicles of Riddick' seemed to have killed off the series begun by 2000's 'Pitch Black' with its highly negative critical and audience reaction. Thanks to the Diesel fueled success of the recent 'Fast & Furious' installments, David Twohy has been given the chance to revive his sci-fi series. The good news is he's taken things back to the b-movie basics of 'Pitch Black', the bad news is the film is, for the most part, a badly paced and plodding mess.
'Riddick' begins with arguably the year's best opening shot, cleverly telling you all you need to know about the title character. Twohy gives us two other great moments, one involving a safe combination, the other a very large blade, but they stand out in a movie that's, on the whole, exceedingly dull. Back in the nineties, the writer-director contributed to a string of low budget gems ('Terminal Velocity', 'The Arrival', 'Pitch Black') as well as some of the better big budget Hollywood releases of the decade ('The Fugitive', 'Waterworld'). This century, however, he's given us turkeys like this movie's predecessor and the terrible 2009 thriller 'A Perfect Getaway'.
Ironically, if this had been made for $10 million, rather than $40 million, it probably would have turned out a lot less cheap looking. A movie like this, essentially an eighties style 'Aliens' knockoff, needs practical effects to capture its retro spirit effectively. The CG on display here is atrocious, particularly Riddick's pet alien-dog, which looks like it escaped from the Pixar home for cute animals. The green screen backgrounds take you out of the film with their artificiality and there's a general lack of weight, marring the few brief action scenes.
Structurally, the film is a mess, as though Twohy couldn't decide which story he wanted to tell. It takes an age for the meat of the plot to kick in, (the arrival of the water-dwelling scorpions), and you'll be yawning long before then.
While it's nice to see a summer movie that isn't ashamed to aim for an adult audience (nudity and gore are plentiful), three great moments aren't enough to save this sci-fi sequel.

Eric Hillis