Friday, October 04, 2013

Film Review - Riddick

Riddick is exactly what you might expect from a Vin Diesel led action packed sci-fi romp: it’s big, crass, and relentlessly macho. Overall it is one of the weakest science fiction offerings of the year but its adult humor and mindless violence do serve to set it apart from the largely family friendly affairs that have begun to dominate the genre. For fans of the first two films, Pitch Black and The Chronicles of Riddick, Riddick delivers but in comparison to relatively highbrow fare like Elysium and Star Trek Into Darkness it’s hollow and brainless.

The things that Riddick gets right it really excels at. The action is fast paced and explosive, the visuals dark and gritty, and some of the concepts and designs are cool and innovative. As far as cheesy, over the top action movies with bodybuilders go, you could do worse than Riddick.
That said there is a lot wrong with Riddick. The nuances of the plot are heavily tied to the previous films and Riddick doesn’t do a great job of explaining them which leaves the uninitiated viewer apathetic to the story right off the bat. It almost doesn’t matter though because the narrative of Riddick is so bare bones that your experience and take-away of the movie will probably be about the same regardless of if you actually pay attention or not. Riddick is marooned on a hostile alien planet with a gang of mercenaries on his trail. The mercenaries are no match for Riddick. Riddick must escape the planet. The end.

The pacing of the film is a mess. After an exciting, attention grabbing introduction the film slows to a crawl when the mercenaries start hunting Riddick. There is far too much camera time granted to this uninteresting, stereotypical, poorly acted rag band of tough guys clichés and it nearly lulls the movie to sleep.  Literally every minute that Riddick wasn’t on screen my impression of the movie dropped. The film eventually begins to build steam again to a satisfying finale but by then it was almost a matter of too little too late.
There are some cool shots in Riddick and the shadowy, grim aesthetic of the visuals help the film tremendously. Vin Diesel is solid (but not exceptional) in the title role and the alien fight scenes are gripping and memorable. However the movie is severely flawed in many ways and in a year crammed full with so much competition Riddick just doesn’t stand up.

Grade: D
Posted by Terry Pierson, Library Clerk