‘Riddick’ Movie Review – Peaking in the Middle
If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. If this is the case, you can expect another sequel to The Chronicles of Riddick franchise. The third movie in the franchise, simply titled Riddick, is a return of sorts. Despite being better than the unacceptable attempt that was the second film, the new movie squanders a very entertaining middle third by reverting back to very conventional storytelling, which is saying a lot for a movie that is unabashedly a sci-fi movie.
Riddick starts with the title character, Richard B. Riddick (Vin Diesel), in bad shape. As I mentioned in the franchise review, the second movie is where the series really suffers. At the conclusion of The Chronicles of Riddick, Riddick is on top. He’s the King of the Necromongers.
That clearly hasn’t lasted long, and Riddick lazily lets us know through a voiceover. He vows to go back to his animalistic ways, choosing to train a dog/cheetah/hyena as his accomplice. His quest also involves a plan to get back to his homeland, Furya, in which he purposely lures two sets of bounty hunters to his location.
The film starts with a good ten-fifteen minutes with barely any dialogue. Instead, the filmmakers explore a desolate planet, pointedly giving away some of the creatures we’ll see later on.
Then the bounty hunters arrive and the movie takes its best turn. Besides being a physical badass, one of Riddick’s greatest qualities is his mind. He uses his nocturnal ability and brainpower to outwit his enemies. For a good portion of the film, Riddick turns into a chase-and-track film, transforming it into an extremely suspenseful experience.
It also feels a lot more like the original film, Pitch Black, which is undoubtedly a good thing. Not only is there a character connection between the first and now third movie, but the story is more succinct than the widely erratic (and much too grandiose) second film.
Again, all good things.
By the end, though, the script really starts to breakdown, and there’s no good way to explain it. It’s sad to say, but the film is best when there is no dialogue. I’m starting to think this isn’t about tone or “feel,” but instead it shows the script is that bad. Maybe it’s meant to be a cheesy sci-fi film, in which case, they completely nailed it.
I also have this sneaky suspicion Riddick exists because of Vin Diesel’s Hollywood clout. He’s not only one of the biggest action stars, but he’s climbing the ranks into the A-list. Diesel’s name is more of a selling point than any logline. This is the worst kind of sequel.
That’s not to say Diesel is bad. He’s just a tool now – a tool to bring in more people and more money. And while money will always be a driving force, I like to think original movies can still exist. Again, this makes the thought of Pitch Black even more disappointing because it was a legitimately original film that legitimately worked.
Riddick is tough to judge for multiple reasons. Having just come off revisiting the franchise, Riddick seems slightly better just because it isn’t so bad. However, having just come off a summer full of blockbusters and a couple years of good sci-fi movies, Riddick doesn’t come close in comparison. The number one problem appears to be the script, and the movie peaks way too early, ultimately falling flat by the end.
Riddick was available in wide release starting yesterday. Check it and all the rest of the movies from this weekend here.
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