Riddick: A Tale of Three Movies
Riddick is the tale of three movies. It starts off with Riddick stranded on a planet that unfortunately is “not Furya.” Then, he disappears for 40 minutes while we watch two groups of mercenaries argue, fight and chew bubble gum. Eventually, Riddick reappears and it becomes a Pitch Black rehash as Diesel survives the improbable and murders many poisonous water lizard type things.
Pitch Black was a low-budget marvel that looked great and gave the world a fantastic anti-hero. The $23 million dollar movie came out of nowhere and became a cult classic. The CGI was used sparingly, the monsters were intimidating and the characters were interesting creature fodder. Riddick was not an invincible killing machine. He was a badass dude who didn’t want to die via night loving winged beasts. Vin and director David Twohy (Perfect Getaway) followed up Pitch Black with the massive turd known as The Chronicles of Riddick. The massive space opera was critically defiled and bombed in the theaters. The night visioned character was thought to be dead until the massive success of Universal’s Fast and Furious 4, 5 and 6. Universal is happy with Vin being happy so they ponied up $38 million and let Twohy and Vin resurrect the character.
The first 30 minutes are wonderful as Vin fights to survive, finds a friend and battles a poisonous water monster. It is scarce, fun and focuses on character building. It reminded me of Cast Away mixed with Bear Grylls Man vs. Wild. However, things go awry after he finds a mercenary outpost. He triggers an alarm then disappears while we are stuck with muscular caricatures, murdered women and lots of gum chewing (the really bad guys chew gum). The movie gets stuck in a slog while people we don’t care about do things that nobody cares about. The lone stand out from this bunch is Katee Sackhoff who rises above her underwritten role and delivers a convincingly tough character (Sharni Vinson did the same thing in You’re Next). Eventually, Riddick allows himself to be imprisoned and things get good again (Monster mayhem and decapitations!).
When buying a ticket for a film called Riddick the viewer expects to watch the titular hero inflict pain on necromongers, creatures and jerky mercenaries. We don’t want random folk telling us how evil he is for 40 minutes while waiting for him to beat them all up. Vin’s Fast series has excelled because it knows what the viewers want and gives it to them ten fold. Riddick starts off intelligently then proceeds to boggle the mind with lack of Riddick. I can’t wait to listen to the director’s commentary to know why they made the swap.
Watch Riddick. Appreciate a passion project. Watch A Pefect Getaway. Get ready for Fast Seven. Buy the Riddick Blu-ray, watch the first 30 minutes, skip 40 minutes then watch the finale.