Movie Review: Riddick

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Riddick is the fourth installment in the franchise starring Vin Diesel who plays; you guessed it, the titular space bad ass character of Richard B. Riddick. Now I never saw any of the previous films because frankly they didn’t really interest me so I went into this film with no expectations and completely blind with just some basic knowledge of the main character and the universe he inhabited. After watching this film I will definitely go back and watch all the previous ones as well as play the games because this film was really damn awesome.

It begins where Chronicles left off with Riddick seemingly being back stabbed and left to die on this piss hole of a planet by the Necromongers. His time with them has made him “civilized” as he puts it and now he has to get his edge back and survive on this hostile world before it kills him. Though things on the planet seem much worse than he had previously thought and he’s forced to lure some mercenaries on to the planet in order to steal one of their ships and get his ass of the planet before the real monsters get him.

The best thing about Riddick is the main character of Riddick himself. He’s a full blown murderer/anti-hero in the truest sense of the word. He looks out only for numero uno, he will kill anyone who gets in his way and he will do what ever it takes to survive. You’d think a guy like that for the “protagonist” role wouldn’t work but it works because of his personality which I thought going into it was going to be very bland and boring really isn’t like that at all. Riddick is a fully realized character with layers and dimension.

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He’s really tough and scary on the outside but he can also show compassion for other living beings besides himself and in this film he finds a perfect balance between being a survivor and being “civilized”. The old Riddick would have wasted every one of the mercenaries and left dog to die as an infant. But Riddick does have a character arc and even though he does kill people here, he actually gives the mercs an ultimatum so they can all leave this rock alive. He has a character arc that makes him more human but still makes him seem like the bad ass killer that he is.

He’s also a man of few words but when he says anything it means something. If he tells you something worse than him is coming and you need to haul ass off the planet immediately, you should haul ass. If he says he’s gonna kill you, he will kill you in the most brutally awesome way possible. It’s these moments that also show that he has a sense of humor, granted it’s a brutal and blunt sense of humor but the way Diesel delivers it you just can’t help but smile or laugh.

In fact the humor in this film is really damn good in that Kick Ass way where characters swear a lot but they put these twists on the way the swear is delivered you just cant help but laugh, there were a quite a few moments where the characters just talked to each other where I just busted out laughing my ass off. Most of the humor though couldn’t work if the characters and their banter wasn’t as well written as it is here.

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Each character feels special here, they all easily could have been OOORRRAAAHHH generic merc assholes with the personalities of a brick wall, instead they all feel like real people and no two guys feel or sound the same. Everyone here has a personality and they managed to show it off through their dialogue and the banter between them. The two guys who stood out the most were Johns and Santana.

Johns is this honorable guy leading the “professional” mercs who have been hunting Riddick for close to a decade now, he wants him alive even tough the bounty will double if he’s killed and he even tells Santana he can have the bounty once he’s done with Riddick. He’s not after Riddick for the money but for some personal reasons which I won’t spoil here.

Santana on the other hand is an entertaining scum bag. He kills, rapes, butchers and does what ever the hell he wants and doesn’t give a shit about anyone but himself. But like everyone else, what saves him from being generic is his great banter and interaction with the rest of the cast, particularly with Johns and Dahl.

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The action in this film is a throwback to the old way it was filmed, you know where you have a nice far away still shot where you can see everything that’s happening instead of the shaky cam or close up crap we get today. It’s actually nice to see all that awesome fight choreography for a change.

It also becomes kind of a reverse horror film where you really follow Riddick in act one and then the mercs kind of become the main focus in act two and Riddick becomes like this horror villain who’s just hunting and killing them all over the place. Its kind of like how Batman operates with Riddick presenting himself as this unstoppable force of nature that makes everyone going up against them shit their pants.

The mercs try to act tough but the second Riddick starts doing what he does best, they freak out every time something goes bump in the night. It really justifies just why Riddick is so feared in this universe and it shows he can break even the most stone cold killer and make them look like scarred little pussies just by them being near him.

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Visually speaking the film looks really damn good for a budget of only 38 million, at first I was worried the planet was just a big yellowish green screen effect but that wasn’t the case. The film looked great for such a small budget, and the creatures themselves look authentic and appropriately threatening.

Even though this film really impressed me there were some glaring problems which kind brought it down for me. The pacing of the film feels off, it felt long at points and I thought they could have maybe cut 10 or 15 minutes out of it and the length would have been perfect.

The ending was also very abrupt, sure it made a lot of sense but after reading the description for the extended cut which will come out later on, I’m sad the expanded epilogue wasn’t kept in the theatrical cut because that ending I think would have been much, much better.

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There was also one character that did something I felt came out of nowhere and I felt like it was just there to have Riddick beat the shit out of some one on screen. It really didn’t feel necessary at all.

Riddick needs to be seen on the big screen, its a great kind of throwback to the old sci-fi, action and horror flicks from the 80s and it has some truly entertaining banter, a fully realized protagonist and some bloody awesome action scenes, just be ready for a meh ending and some pacing issues.


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