Back in 2000, before Vin Diesel was the big star we know him as today, he starred in a low-budget sci-fi B-movie called Pitch Black. In the film he played Richard B. Riddick, a convict and murderer who was mysterious and unpredictable, not to mention the fact that he was essentially a ninja who could sneak out of everywhere. The film was probably much better than anyone could have hoped, with it’s well-developed, likeable characters and witty dialogue giving it it’s ‘cult classic’ status.
Diesel and David Twohy (Pitch Black‘s writer/director) then decided to make a sequel four years later, known as The Chronicles of Riddick, a big-budget ($100-120 million), epic sci-fi film that was all kinds of silly and ridiculous. It also is now a cult classic, despite the fact it didn’t do all that well at the box office. So, nine years later, we have Riddick, which basically is Pitch Black with less originality.
After the ending of The Chronicles of Riddick where Riddick (Vin Diesel) himself is crowned leader of the Necromongers, he now decides he doesn’t like being supreme leader any more and ventures off to find his home planet of Furya. However, he is betrayed by the Necromongers and left for dead on a far away, no name desert planet. He fights for his survival against nature and the local wildlife, until he sees a massive rain cloud slowly covering the world, and for reasons that we find out later (to say it here would spoil it), this is a very bad thing. Riddick decides to put out a beacon and draw bounty hunters to him so he can steal their ship. And then the film becomes a long game of ‘how badass can we make Vin Diesel look?’.
Let’s get this out of the way first: Riddick is not a good film. The dialogue is the most cheesy, cringe-worthy stuff you can imagine (“I don’t fuck guys, I just fuck ’em up if they need it”), the characters are all two-dimensional, and the CGI is at times hilariously fake-looking (which is a shame considering almost everything non-human is CGI). But what this film is is fun. It’s unashamedly fun. No doubt it’s dull in places, and it’s two hour running time isn’t really justified since the vast majority of the second act is dedicated to building tension that isn’t there, but when it’s entertaining, it really is a blast.
The mindset you have to go in with is, ‘Riddick can do anything. He is the greatest creature of all creatures in the universe. He is the king of everything. There is nothing that Richard B. Riddick cannot do.’ If you go in thinking like that, you’ll probably have a good time, especially if you’re already a Riddick fan, because I’ve seen numerous people say that this film is like Pitch Black. Well, sure, but it isn’t like Pitch Black, it is Pitch Black. Plot goes through a lot of the same motions, same mood, same atmosphere, same focus on ensemble cast, it’s practically the same movie. It has much less of Pitch Black‘s interesting characters and story, unfortunately, but Pitch Black fans will appreciate this shift back to the franchise’s roots.
While Riddick is by no means a classic, or even any where near as good as Pitch Black, but it’s an enjoyable romp that adult sci-fi fans will have fun with and fans of mindless, silly films will adore. And sometimes a mindless film is alright. It all depends what you like.
So to sum up, Riddick is fun, but quite Riddick-ulous!
The Chronicles of Riddick (2004)¦ Coming Soon