Film Review: Riddick (MA15+) (USA, 2013)

Director David Twohy is back with another installment in the Riddick franchise and just in case you’d forgotten who the movie was all about; the title is a handy reminder. Riddick has a bit to live up to, considering its predecessors and the fact that big action blockbusters are all the rage at the moment.

Vin Diesel once again dons his black goggles; which he seems to have a never-ending supply of; and returns to the boots of Richard B Riddick. Interestingly the first 30 minutes of the film is Riddick taking us on a Department of Back Story ride through voice over, to explain how we end up where we are, after we’re left hanging in the previous film The Chronicles of Riddick. This whole section of the film has almost no dialogue, since our man is completely by himself for almost all of it. Die-hard fans might also recognise that some of this back-story retelling was released as a motion comic on YouTube voiced by the respective actors, however it’s good (for those of us non-fans) having it done in live action and included in the theatrical release, it also gives us an excuse to see Karl Urban show up for his less than 5 minutes of screen time.

As our anti-hero once again battles the elements and environment and alien wildlife out to kill him on the spit of dirt he’s been marooned on (sound familiar?) he is also then pit against two very different groups of mercenaries and bounty hunters. The first to arrive are the haphazard scumbag bounty hunters led by the sleazy loud-mouthed Santana (Jordi Molla) whilst the second group are the more militant organised mercenaries led by Boss Johns (Australian Matt Nable) who also happens to be the father of one of the characters featured in Pitch Black. Riddick then proceeds to pick off the one-dimensional bad guys (who also have minimal dialogue) bit by bit, mainly fuelled by his need to get off the planet and two very distinctive moral motivational moments (see if you can pick them) where basically if you piss Riddick off you end up dead.

Personally after having seen the previous two films, Riddick is hardly unique and feels more like a rip-off of Pitch Black, however it’s a far easier narrative to follow than Chronicles Of Riddick which I’m still baffled by. Visually it’s almost as good as the first film in the series, with searing yellow brown desert landscapes and monstrous rock cliffs, strobe lightning storms in the dark, and the scorpion mud monster aliens are a real treat to watch when you do see them in close up. The dialogue and script is at times awkward, face-palm inducing and there’s even a blatant Fast And The Furious nod, I’m not sure whether that’s Diesel’s input or Twohy’s. Riddick doesn’t always win his battles though, it’s good to see him get his ass kicked occasionally but the biggest round of applause (and yes the audience did actually clap in the theatre) was when Santana got his come-uppance in a typical gory way followed by some cheesy dialogue.

All in all it’s a fun sci-fi action film, I’d sit it happily under Pitch Black but above Chronicles when comparing it against its forerunners and thankfully it wasn’t as much of a train wreck as I was expecting.


Riddick opens nationally today – 12 September 2013 -0 through Roadshow Films and Universal Pictures


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Carina Nilma

Office lackey day-job. Journalist for The AU Review night-job. Emotionally invested fangirl.