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Thursday, September 5, 2013

(REVIEW) RIDDICK: Proof That Even Films With "Modest" Budgets Can Stink Too

Did you know that Vin Diesel is now an "indie" film star? Yes, the grumbling, muscular star of such action-packed films as the Fast & Furious franchise and XXX has gone underground and done a passion project for the people. Well, if you call an already well-known futuristic thriller (with a relatively modest budget of $38 million), that has major blockbuster appeal, a passion project.

Diesel jumps back into the role of a hyperoptic antihero in RIDDICK (which he also co-produced), the third film in the Pitch Black sci-fi franchise that reunites the star with writer/director David Twohy. Basically, if you've seen the two previous films, including The Chronicles of Riddick, you've pretty much seen this one as well. Riddick is once again back between a rock and a hard place (literally) trying to stay alive amid the always hungry alien animals that continue to stalk him. After he narrowly escapes a particularly graphic fight with a few of the intergalactic felines, Riddick takes in one of the alien wolves as his very own man's best friend and continues his journey across the predatory sun-scorched planet.

We can only assume that at this early point in the film Riddick's plan is to simply survive, though Twohy doesn't really help us out with any other motivational hints. It is very possible that he thought we would be too awestruck by the breathtaking photography and overall palette of the film. While the film is certainly striking to look at, it needs an actual story to go along with it.

Does it ever get one? Kinda. Will die-hard fans of the franchise care either way? Nope. But since I am not what you'd consider "die-hard," I'm going to piece together what I was able to make of the flimsy plot and present it to you.

After Riddick fights off the angry and insatiable alien wolves, he learns that he's got a whole new set of problems fast approaching--two competing mercenary crews that have targeted Riddick as their next bounty score. One of the crews is led by Johns (Matt Nable); the other is led by Santana (Jordi Mollà, and why can't he get into a good film?). There is a whole lot of power throwing between the two. But Santana can't actually defend himself so he just gets beat up a lot. Mollà is clearly struggling not to break character and laugh because like, seriously, why is he in this movie? So he ends up sounding like a gruff clown (half laughing/half angry man growling). So sad/weird.

They really should have left all their strategizing to the smartest character in the movie, Dahl (Katee Sackhoff), one of Johns' people who has no time for games, procrastinating or men:

Even in her smaller role, she stands out from the fellas. Too bad none of them really pays her any mind, unless it's to give her orders or flirt with/try to intimidate her. Typical. 

Anyway, back on the other side of the orange planet, Riddick has to come up with a plan to protect himself from the bumbling fools mercenaries while wearing something that was clearly stolen from the Mad Max wardrobe closet. Since he's not dealing with the smartest tools in the shed, he easily opens up a can of whoop-ass on each of them without even breaking a sweat.

A few other things happen in the film--lots of men throwing their weight around yet end up holding their d*^k in their hands--but that's to be expected, I suppose. Riddick doesn't get any wiser, nor does he evolve or develop new powers or anything that would help you remember the film after you've seen it. It simply doesn't progress.

It's also worth noting that the the film is almost two hours long (119 minutes to be exact), but really could have been 90 minutes long without all the excess banter and clearly tacked-on ending.

Don't waste your time on this one.

Rating: D+ (*1/2 out of *****)

RIDDICK is in theaters Friday.  


Daniel said...

Good to hear that Katee Sackhoff makes it out with a strong albeit small performance. This is Diesel's baby and it sounds like its the typical macho type grandstanding. I'm just as shocked by the runtime, no way this movie needs to be nearly 2 hours.

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