Film Review: Riddick is more fun, less serious than previous series installments

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Vin Diesel produces and stars as the ex-con antihero in the third Riddick sci-fi thriller. Vin Diesel produces and stars as the ex-con antihero in the third Riddick sci-fi thriller.

When we last left Richard B. Riddick (Vin Diesel), in the boringly-yet-appropriately titled The Chronicles of Riddick (2004), he was installed as the leader of the Necromongers, a race of humanoids bent on turning everyone in the universe into Scientologists. Whatever else happened in The Chronicles of Riddick has been long forgotten, mostly because it’s a terrible movie.

Remember Pitch Black (2000)? The R-rated, super violent bloodbath where Riddick got his start pits him and lesser mortals against creatures on a desert planet that kill and eat anything they can. The catch: The creatures only come out at night and the planet has perpetual daylight, except for a month-long period every 20 years or so. And guess when Riddick and the gang arrive?

Forget that no creature that couldn’t survive in the sun would live on a planet bathed in sunlight. That’s totally stupid! But Pitch Black is fun, with lots of good killin’—if you’re into that sort of thing—and thankfully Riddick has much more in common with it than with The Chronicles of Riddick, even the things that don’t make much sense.

For example, in the new movie, how does Riddick know the creatures that survive in the dark are going to hunt him and the bounty hunters looking for him on this unknown planet? Because he’s Riddick, that’s why! Don’t question the script.

And why isn’t Riddick still leading the Necromongers? Simple: The script required it. Seriously, don’t question the filmmakers. It’s best to just roll with the movie if you want to enjoy it.

For anyone in the dark (ha) in Riddick’s first 10 minutes, fear not. There’s a prologue that tidies up as much as it can. It’s almost as if Diesel and writer-director David Twohy want to forget The Chronicles of Riddick, too. Wise choice. Unfortunately, it demands that we remember things that happened 13 years ago—there’s a subplot tied directly to characters from Pitch Black—but mostly it’s just an action movie.

In Riddick, our antihero has landed on an unnamed desert-like planet. He eventually finds a large piece of land that has vegetation and shelter. Then he finds an abandoned bounty hunter station and an approaching storm that looks bigger than any Category 5 hurricane. Riddick sets off a homing beacon and the bounty hunters come calling.

For Riddick, the idea is to steal a ship and escape. For the bounty hunters, it’s time to get picked off one by one Agatha Christie-style. Much like the Fast & Furious series that was so self-serious when it first appeared, Pitch Black and the follow-up take themselves so seriously they can be insufferable. Twohy and Diesel have learned to let Riddick have some yuks, and to let the other characters know they’re caricatures. The players realize they’re in a ridiculous situation and that makes Riddick infinitely more fun.

Riddick isn’t close to being a perfect movie, but it’s surprisingly entertaining. And sometimes all we need is a good popcorn flick.

 

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Regal Downtown Mall Cinema 6

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Movie houses

Carmike Cinema 6
973-4294

Regal Downtown Mall
Cinema 6
979-7669

Regal Stonefield 14
and IMAX
244-3213

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