Opening 19 Sep 2013
After Riddick (Vin Diesel) is betrayed and left for dead by his people, he must find a way to survive and escape a barren wasteland of a planet. He makes friends with an alien dingo dog, fights weird scorpion-like aliens and attempts to scare a bunch of bounty hunters into giving him one of their ships. Needless to say, his time on the planet isn’t an easy one, and with the encroaching rain storm which brings with it certain death, he must act quickly before time runs out.
Is Riddick a truly good film or is it just so much better than the previous outing of the title character (The Chronicles of Riddick ) that it just seems that way? Riddick definitely owes a lot to the first movie of the trilogy, Pitch Black (2000). There is the desert landscape, the desperate fights for survival and the aggressive man-eating alien creatures that arrive at night. It is clear that David Twohy was hoping to recreate the success of the first movie of the trilogy rather than the lackluster results of the second. Pitch Black was a horror/survival story and surprisingly successful, but the sequel The Chronicles of Riddick was a more drawn-out adventure sci-fi which flopped. So by essentially plagiarizing the first film, the hope is to make successful third.
That being said, Riddick is not a total disaster. The special effects are at times extremely effective and interesting. The orangey-red desert landscape cements the alien feel and the design of the hover motorcycles is particularly impressive. Also watching Riddick run around taking down monsters and bounty hunters alike with impressive sneakiness and skill is quite enjoyable. As a sci-fi action film, it certainly has its moments.
However, there are several disappointing points as well. The designs of the beasts in the film are rather subpar. The alien dingo dog looks rather like a mishmash of Earth canines and something about the computer graphics of the dog’s eyes feels reminiscent of a children’s movie. Likewise, the design of the major alien antagonist, the scorpion creature, resembles the snake-like creature that emerges from the goo in Prometheus (2012). It is sad that when presented with the opportunity to make any sort of imaginative creature design, they all come out looking pretty similar to what can be found on Earth or in another movie. Also, the utilization of women in the film is problematic. There are only two women in all of Riddick, one is a helpless damsel who is killed moments after her introduction to make a point of how bad one of the characters is, and the other is a stereotypical “strong” woman (Katee Sackhoff) of whom the audience gets to have a gratuitous boob shot and who wears clothing specifically made to emphasize the size of her breasts. But remember, she’s tough enough to take on guys so the objectification of her body throughout is acceptable. It would be nice to see a film like Riddick portraying more women with a variety of backgrounds and capabilities, but perhaps it is still too soon for such a “radical” idea in the sci-fi genre.
Riddick has its good points and its bad points, but in general manages to be entertaining enough to pull its own weight. It will certainly not be considered the most original or interesting sci-fi of the year, but it isn’t a total waste of time. While it doesn’t hold a candle to Pitch Black it is certainly a step in the right direction. (Rose Finlay)