Now don’t get me wrong, this is not great cinema by a long shot, but in amongst all the boring crap that Hollywood is currently churning out, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed Riddick. That’s not to say it was a really great movie, it wasn’t, or that it was original or well done or thrilling in any way, nope…but I enjoyed it. It was two hours of an enjoyable distraction. I give the movie a C+.
The movie’s virtues come from two main points. The first being that the first act of the film is Riddick alone on a planet trying to survive. The dialogue is sparse, and the whole thing has a very Robinson Crusoe feel to it. And it works well to remind everyone why, for one reason or another, this crude, violent, killing machine has a franchise in the first place. For all his violence there is intelligence and a certain sense of honor to Riddick. And we are reminded of this while he learns to survive on this new world (and while he trains his puppy Friday…yeah the dog really wins your heart).
The second virtue of the film is that the second and third acts are essentially Pitch Black 2. Mercenaries trying to kill/capture Riddick followed by monsters that go bump in the night. It’s the formula that made the first film the unexpected gem that it has become. And there is just enough difference from the first movie that you don’t feel they were completely lazy in rehashing all the same plot points.
The dialogue is far more coarse and less thought out than the previous films, but the characters of this film (a bunch of mercenaries) are a more course bunch than the civilians of Pitch Black and the universe conquering army of The Chronicles of Riddick, so it’s at least in character (hey, it’s a Riddick film, you knew you weren’t going to get Faulkner when you bought your ticket and walked into the theater). Riddick’s sardonic wit is still in place and helps moves the film along. And they even do an acceptable job of tying this film to the previous two movies.
I know I usually talk about the deeper levels of a film…but this is Riddick, let’s not kid ourselves.
Finally, and I don’t know if this is a good or bad thing, but while they wrapped up the whole movie they did leave enough to make a 4th film. I’m not sure we need one, but as Vin Diesel’s character is a fun one to watch and will likely turn a profit, you should probably expect one.
As I said, it’s an enjoyable waste of two hours. An argument could certainly be made it’s not worth the $10 ticket to get in, but I’ve seen a lot worse this summer (The Lone Ranger).