David Twohy,

Riddick is back in a balls out, blue collar, penal system, ex military out of control and off the chain influenced underbelly of the future B Grade Sci-Fi flick - Riddick Review

Thursday, September 05, 2013 Craig Grobler 0 Comments

Riddick Film Review
 Riddick Film Review

I have to say David Twohy's Riddick is one of this Summer's most entertaining read fun  Sci Fi films and is up there close with Iron Man 3 and Star Trek Into Darkness in terms of entertainment and creativity. It is an action packed thrill ride that easily earns it solid 15 certification and between you and me - it can teach The Wolverine something about being a feral animalistic anti hero (and whilst its not as epic) the Man of Steel and Prometheus something about creating engaging and interesting alien worlds for a quarter of the price. Admittedly it has faults but these can mostly be overlooked as expectations of Riddick are lower and it more than compensates with sheer exhilarating thrills and imagination.

Allow me to continue by adding Riddick B. Riddick is still not the hero you want, he's an animal – more so than ever before. If are looking for sci fi that explores big ideas and concepts of a utopian future Riddick isn't it. This is the balls out, blue collar, penal system, ex military out of control and off the chain influenced underbelly of the future. I went in knowing very little about Riddick and loved it. By the time you see it I suspect that the spoilers would have pieced the entire plot together so avoid everything Riddick related as the little twists and turns are the magic of Riddick.

Riddick Quad Poster
Riddick Quad Poster (Click to Enlarge - Click for more Riddick images)
David Twohy's RIDDICK Review

an entertaining return to form and a sci-fi highlight of 2013
Back in 2000 I didn't see David Twohy's Pitch Black in the cinema it looked like another muscle bound attempt at Science Fiction and I gave it a miss.

But after a little while the buzz made me regret my decision and I saw it on home release as quick as I could. Pitch Black introduced us to anti hero - Riddick as well as the man who played him - Vin Diesel. Much like many other great action films I was unsure where the man ended and the performance started as his performance recalled other similar action hero greats for me like Arnold Schwarzenegger as Conan The Barbarian,

Riddick All the updates ON OUR RADAR - Riddick All the updates & First Look HD Teaser Trailer & Images
Win! A Riddick Goody Bag Win! A Riddick Goody Bag
Mel Gibson as The Road Warrior and Kurt Russell's Snake Plissken. Actors whose screen presence seems to mentally and physically embody the character they are playing.

Making a fantastical film seem a lot more credulous and easier to be immersed in. The thing I loved about Riddick was that he answers in spades a complaint I continually have of film villains –  they're not menacing and rather than trying to express how clever they are they should be more like the shark from Jaws, you hardly see or hear them (increasing the dread and tension) and when you do see them its too late.
That's Riddick in a nutshell. He's not trying to be clever he doesn't understand clever he's like a shark an animal that has a honed survival instinct, that combined with his experience makes him a formidable opponent that knows your plays before you have even made them. This makes Riddick B. Riddick an incredibly engaging character and like an apex predator you can't blame him for his actions he's no hero - just misunderstood and it would be wiser to steer clear of him – as he isn't one of us he is Furyan - and Twohy and Diesel play off the concept keeping Riddick a step ahead of everyone as well as us at all times. 

Of course Vin Diesel wasn't the only engaging thing about Pitch Black as David Twohy, a man who clearly loves the genre and knows how to tell a story. The technology especially the practical ways its used, the weaponry, the imaginative and inhospitable environments, the creatures and the strong cast, weave together an ingenious tale, based on a script by brothers Ken and Jim Wheat, of how a group of stranded travellers have to rely on the enemy in the face of a greater threat -  connecting into many science fiction tropes whilst feeling original. It's numerous strengths overwhelming its weaknesses.
Riddick Vin Diesel takes a break
Riddick Vin Diesel takes a break (Click to enlarge)
Video: RIDDICK Official UK Trailer 
In the end Pitch Black, made for £15 Million, made £34 Million but more importantly it was an entertaining well made low budget science Fiction film that gave us back an action hero for a more mature audience, something that studios wanting to reach as wide as possible audience have stifled and Riddick quickly found his way into the pantheon of great action heroes with a cult following to support sequels and games.
Watching David Twohy's films he doesn't seem to be a creative that follows the obvious path, his material and especially his take on it always seems fresh with an original vision behind it. This has proved to be a risky strategy as - if it fails, it fails spectacularly, but the up side is that if it succeeds its on another level entirely.
Sadly David Twohy and Vin Diesel's fairly epic 2004 return to Riddick - The Chronicles of Riddick, did not fare as well as Pitch Black, with critics not giving it any love and it just managed to make back its production budget of £67 Million.

Truth be told for all its problems The Chronicles of Riddick is an ambitious project expanding on the world of Riddick whilst remaining in touch with the core elements that made Pitch Black such a great film and I kind of admired and liked what they were doing with it and it just keeps getting every viewing.

Riddick (Vin Diesel on his jet bike
Riddick Riddick (Vin Diesel on his jet bike (Click to enlarge)
Action film series audiences have become wary since the heady days of the 80s/90s as they have been being burnt too many times by film-makers unable to navigate the Catch-22 of sequels and expanding their franchise. History has taught us they can't tell the same story again - as audiences can turn on their heroes quickly.
So film-makers tend to focus on what made the first film so unique and engaging in the first place - their lead character and place them in an escalated threat situation so, as a well worn example, we go from Officer John McClane being thrown into a bizarre terrorist situation where he has to protect his wife and people in a skyscraper to John McClane protecting an airport and air planes full of people (and wife), to John McClane protecting a whole city, then John McClane protecting a country, then John McClane in a different country and by proxy protecting  the entire globe from a nuclear threat. For the record I love Die Hard and the first couple were great films I even enjoyed the last one immensely.
Alternatively the franchise takes another path where rather than one enemy - Green Goblin, Spider-Man has to face two enemies Hobgoblin and Doctor Octopus and true to form finally three enemies; Hobgoblin, Sandman and Venom.

The rub here of course is that each time our hero is thrown into a situation where the threat is escalated; the plot is stretched just a little further, that thing that made our character unique and able to deal with situations is less unique and dilutes as he goes through the motions again, to fit all the convuluted elements into the film, each new threat has less time to be contextually grounded within the story as it unfolds – all leading to increasingly weaker stories. On top of this audience expectation have to be balanced.
Riddick (Vin Diesel) & Vaako (Karl Urban) (Click to enlarge)

Vin Diesel Diaz Dave Bautista fight
Riddick (Vin Diesel) & Diaz (Dave Bautista) go at it (Click to enlarge)
There are bad days and there are legendary bad days.
- Riddick B. Riddick
David Twohy must have recognised this and rather than rehash those well worn laws of sequels he attempts something different with The Chronicles of Riddick, something bigger and more ambitious, something that actually explored the characters and seemingly boundless universe that the Riddick canon has opened up, something that makes it feel like the narrative and Riddick's broader story arc were more important in his approach - unfortunately it wasn't greeted in an equivalent quid pro quo fashion.Well bearing all that in mind David Twohy and Vin Diesel are back for the third Riddick motion picture - Riddick. And as the title would suggest it seems they have had a rethink on the return on investment for their efforts - made for an estimated £24 Million Riddick is pared back on the epicness and taken back to a more simplistic level - more in line with the rawness of Pitch Black albeit more sophisticated and polished in terms of visuals and creativity.
In essence with Riddick Twohy has bridged audience expectations between those that want more Pitch Black style Riddick and those like myself that want to explore the larger universe and seethe  Riddick chronicles continue in new ways. So we get two different set pieces:

Video: The Establishing Shot: RIDDICK - RIDDICK IS AMBUSHED CLIP - 4 SEPTEMBER 2013
In the first we pick up sometime just after the events of The Chronicles of Riddick has ended and Riddick is the Lord Marshal Necromonger or whatever they are calling their kings these days. We watch as Riddick ends up stranded and dead on another inhospitable planet. The guy can't get a break - it would be cool to see how Riddick reacts when he is dropped into a paradise for a change.
I loved the first part of the film we get to see the Furyan navigate his new environment and the planet's inhabitants, while he narrates how it all went wrong for him - underpinned with the Tao of  Riddick B. Riddick. I have to say I was really digging the set up. The whole thing was awesome. Although the effects are proficient some of them seem a little out of place and give Riddick a B Grade feel.

The second half of the film I felt was a little of a let down as we are firmly back in Pitch Black territory with a strong western feel - but don't let that put you off because as expected David Twohy keeps it fresh with lots of twists and turns as we build to the climax – which incidentally surprised me and was a moment that transcends the Tao of  Riddick B. Riddick.
Pretty soon Riddick isn't alone as he  avoids the vicious creatures of the planet as he makes a friend oh, and some mercenaries arrive to collect his valuable head - setting off a game of cat & mouse, with Riddick's cat seemingly always a couple of steps ahead - spinning off some interesting scenarios that I find hard to believe anyone other than Twohy would have pulled together so successfully. 
Part of this is an injection of humour, most noticeable  within the group dynamics of the mercenaries as it veers between hard core bad assery – spearheaded by ex wrestler Dave Bautista soon to be Drax the Destroyer in Guardians of the Galaxy, comedy and true grit determination as each mercenary has their own issues and personality.  

As the tension mounts rifts widen between the strongest personalities of the group: Jordi Mollà as Santana, Matt Nable as Boss Johns and Katee Sackhoff's Dahl leaving allowing Riddick to do what he does best, that is, until an even bigger threat arises and the tension ratchets up.
One down... Three down. You see where I'm going with this?
- Riddick B. Riddick

Riddick and his bone weapon (Click to enlarge)
As I said earlier Riddick has faults and a big one for me was the dialogue - some of it is sharp and perfectly in form with Diesel delivering his verbal bombs with menace and humour but some of it, is dire and blunts the edge somewhat. This changes the character of Riddick to a degree as Diesel is imbuing him with his own off screen persona, making him crack one liners and quotes from his other films taking me right out of the film. Why Vin? Why?
Something else that was noticeably odd was the relationship between Riddick and Dahl (Katee Sackhoff) although they are behaviourally clearly a bad ass match made in heaven and it's a bit like watching two sharks or lions in the throes of an extended viscous foreplay - anthropologically it is interesting but you just don't feel the chemistry which is a shame as I would like to see them on screen together again.

Here's hoping to Riddick 4.
Riddick is released nationwide on 4th September in both regular and digitally re-mastered into the immersive IMAX format cinemas
Vin Diesel (Fast & Furious franchise, xXx) reprises his role as the infamous outlaw RIDDICK.

Having been betrayed and left for dead on a sun-scorched planet, Riddick must fight for his survival against the deadly alien predators that exist in this barren land. After activating an emergency beacon Riddick soon finds himself battling teams of mercenaries from around the galaxy who are determined to bring him home as their bounty.

Riddick plans to seek his retribution and return to his planet at all costs.

Written and Directed by David Twohy, the film stars Karl Urban (Dredd, Star Trek), Jordi Molla (Bad Boys 2, Knight and Day), Dave Batista (WWE, The Man with the Iron Fists) and Katee Sackhoff (24)

Directed by: David Twohy
Written by: David Twohy, Oliver Butcher, Stephen Cornwell
Starring: Vin Diesel, Karl Urban, Katee Sackhoff, Jordi Mollà, Dave Bautista, Bokeem Woodbinelberg

The Establishing Shot: RIDDICK - ANY LAST WISHES CLIP - 4 SEPTEMBER 2013