r i d d i c k
4th September 2013
Vin Vin VIn
12th September 2013
You can’t go home again. Apparently. This would seem equally true of both Vin Diesel and Richard B. Riddick. For Vin’s part, he burst onto the scene back in 2000 with superb B movie Pitch Black, following it up the following year with just good enough to get over itself The Fast and The Furious. It’s pretty much been all down hill since then. Until the recent F&F reboot which we actually quite enjoyed. A now announced F&F 7, followed by another entry into the largely pointless xXx series has bought Vin growling back into our consciousness.
To get the inevitable talk of Riddick’s prequel out of the way, it was utter nonsense. I’m not entirely sure I’ve even watched it through to the close, though I promise I’ve tried at least twice. Pitch Black was a neat, lean piece of sci-fi that posed the interesting question ‘what if the worst thing you just crashed with is your best hope?’ Riddick’s crimes have never really been expanded on (in the films anyway), but we’re pretty sure he’s a murderer of some sort. The heroic sort when it comes down to it in fact, something that sadly does take the edge off the original film. Chronicles.. was over-blown and self indulgent so now we have returned to the misfits stranded on a planet theme of the original. Which is a good thing.
Riddick, then finds old Richard B. duped by crafty old Karl Urban (incredibly easily as it happens) into being ditched on a world that Riddick thought was his old Furya hood. It isn’t. So Vin builds himself back up, gets to know the wildlife and eventually finds a beacon which he uses to summon a couple of bounty hunter units to his location. Leaving them a simple message, requesting one of their ships in exchange for not butchering the lot of them, their confidence rapidly evaporates as initially Riddick picks them off. I say initially because as with the first film, Riddick is not the worst thing on this planet. The worst thing is actually rain. Which allows the water dwelling indigenous life to get about more and get more stabby with their poisonous fangs. Screaming ensues.
Riddick actually does a fair amount right. The character doesn’t need all the nonsense back story or a place in the universe, the fact that he had neither was what made him scary in the first place, so getting shot of all that was a sound move. The initial conceit was also a winner - the horrific realisation that not only is there something worse out there, the bad thing in here is the only thing that can save you. The real issue is that the movie takes too long to get to that point and once it does, you realise you can’t even really name any of those in peril, let alone root for them. Yes one of them is the dad of one of the original characters but.. well, who cares?
The creatures are well realised and Riddick’s initial encounter with the water dweller sets up a pretty impressive standoff and boss-fight between the two of them but on the whole, they’re a little too like the Aliens in AvP - disposable and not as shriekingly scary as the flying bugs from the original.
So we’re left rooting for Riddick from the outset, rather than wondering what he’s going to do in order to ensure his survival over that of anyone else. The open ending and the fact that Urban’s character thread from the second film is left dangling would suggest that there will be a further entry in the series but I’ve no idea where that one could go. Riddick worked best as a cypher who’s allegiances were uncertain, blurring the lines between what’s acceptable when you’re fighting flying aliens. He no longer has that mystery and glowing eyes will only get you so far. Vin is still well at home with his signature character, oozing menace and determination to survive and Riddick is by no means a write-off. If it had been 20 minutes shorter, I’d probably feel more disposed towards it. As it is, it’s leagues ahead of Chronicles but probably best to leave him find home by himself.
Check out the trailer here.