Monday, February 17, 2014

MR Riddick

A science-fiction tale of survival - what's not to like?

Don't be afraid of the dark. Be afraid of what's in the dark in these RIDDICK-ulous reviews:

Movie: RIDDICK (2013) also known as Riddick: Rule the Dark or simply Riddick
Directed by David Twohy
Release date 2013
Genre Scifi action/thriller
Country USA/UK

He's back!

After being left leading an army, Richard B. Riddick and his would be-film franchise were left hanging in development hell.

A disappointing box-office and a mixed reception put a stop to all plans for further movies exploring the universe of Riddick. Be it as it may, the idea never left Vin Diesel who still remembered the character fondly and wanted to revisit Riddick ever since.

Finally he and director David Twohy decided to take an alternate answer to Hollywood and produce an independent sequel of their own.

Over the years, Vin Diesel was finally able to obtain the rights back to Riddick.

Diesel and Twohy produced the film on their own, with Twohy writting the story, and Vin Diesel even leveraged his own house to ensure this movie would be made.

The result was the return of Vin Diesel's franchise back in due form.

Almost a standalone new adventure with some ties to past films.

Every film in this "franchise" has tackled a different kind of scifi film genre.

While the first one, Pitch Black was clearly an Alien-esque scifi/horror film and Chronicles of Riddick was more of a bigger-scale space opera affair, this episode feels closer to a science-fiction thriller/tale of survival.

Riddick (2013) sort of has two clear distinct halves.

The film first picks up where the previous episode. After a little foreshadowing opener, we go back some time before Riddick's arrival on this desert planet.

Last time we saw Riddick he was leading the Necromongers army. The Necromongers weren't really happy with Riddick has their leader since he never truly embraced their ideology. And all this was a bit too much for what Riddick signed for...

All our anti-hero wanted was to find out about his homeplanet. After discussing with Commander Vaako, Riddick is lead to a trap in some abandoned planet.. and left there for dead.

Riddick has to battle hordes of alien creatures for his survival and goes back to his more primitive instincts.

He gets a new companion in the form of a local "space" jackal.

But Riddick finally finds a sort of abandoned outpost and decides to use the emergency beacon to get out of this rock. See, a huge storm is coming up and that might awaken the local fauna...

And that is when the movie goes back to something closer to the original Pitch Black. Only this time it's not about random people stuck on an alien world, but two spaceships full of killer mercenaries after Riddick...

First up comes Santana and his men, a bunch of ruthless bounty hunters after the game of their life (and apparently, some religious kid they keep around as a good luck charm).

But then arrive a man named Boss Johns, a mysterious man with some ties to Riddick's past. His crew are professional and they clash several times with Santana's group.

But all Riddick wants is just to go after one of those ships. They try to make a perimeter around the camp and trap Riddick but it was already too late... Riddick was already hunting them and playing mind games.

Riddick will have to fight for his very own survival before joining forces with those guys together if they all wanna survive...

Riddick is a more direct simpler film than the more epic CoR, but it works so much better with this character.

With the whole Necromongers empire inherited, Twohy and Diesel had kinda wrote themselves into a corner that would have required a much bigger budget, and therefore a cleaner-cut film to such a large audition. By playing outside of Universal Pictures' rulebook they were allowed to make a much better product in my eyes.

Vin Diesel gives us such a fun performance for his favorite character. Even when Riddick's absent, you can still feel him lurking hidden in the shadows.

It's really fun how you go for the first 40 minutes without any human face besides Vin Diesel.

The rest of the cast features a great range of veteran actors of the genre. Jordi Mollà, Matt Nable, Dave Batista, Bokeem Woodbine and Raoul Trujillo are all pretty great in their characters. A bunch of colorful mercs, maybe some are cannon fodder but they all bring their unique traits for these background characters that are more than simply second roles.

Katee Sackhoff is of course pretty kickass in her role. The only woman around, kind of the default Vasquez of the film but she has some great moments and scenes (and more!).

Finally Karl Urban pops in for a little cameo to tie things with the previous film. Nothing much, but at least they got him back in what could have been a deleted scene.

Riddick outsmarts a bunch of professional mercenaries before anyone notices he's only been killing the mercs than have been trying to kill him. Showing, perhaps, a softer side to Riddick (he even took care of a "dog"!).

It took full ten years to get here, but it was worth it.

"Riddick: Rule the Dark" (as initially titled) offers a much better and even more real tone than Chronicles, on a much lower budget. For one quarter of Chronicles' $100 million+ budget they were able to make a more tight-contained tense action film with some great tension.

In several ways, the series go back to its roots in this third episode. It's closer to Pitch Black with a self-contained location and a pretty similar final act. And it's great.

Riddick recaptures some of that magic.

The character of Riddick is better when opposed to more primal danger such as monsters and human mercenaries, not science-fiction human species or armies of storm troopers. Kind of like those old 1930s pulp scifi heroes. He's always means to be a space-Conan. Heck, this new Riddick film even starts the same way with our hero stranded in the middle of nowhere, left for dead for the vultures.

Finally Graeme Revell returns to score this film. He simply composed a great epic score, recapturing some key themes from the past films, but down-sizing them to a more grounded level.

Overall, a fantastic action film! Lots of great moments and tension. What is more to ask from a non-Star Wars, non-Star Trek, non-Alien scifi film in these days and ages of continuous reboots and adaptations?

Riddick has a great art direction and creature designs, clever dark humor and some gory violent action scenes.

The movie could be a bit more different from Pitch Black and the ending comes a bit unexpected (with Johns Sr. coming back to save the day from the man who supposedly killed his son). But overall? Highly recommended film!

And while it's fun to have our anti-hero back, it's huge and unexpected success surprised so much Universal than they finally decided to finance the next sequel already. Where were those guys when Vin Diesel and David Twohy were going all over Europe trying to secure the financing for this film?

I give it:
2.5 / 3 UFOs!

No comments:

Post a Comment