Starring: Vin Diesel and Katee Sackhoff
Review Written By: Michael Dalton (Prime Minister)
The film focuses on the titular character who has become stranded on a strange, hostile planet following a set-up by Commander Vaako, played by Karl Urban in a strangely small role for an actor of his caliber. Riddick tries to survive amongst the planet’s wacky wildlife and then ultimately against two different groups of people, both after him for wildly different reasons, with whom he may have to form an uneasy alliance in order to survive the night.
The first act of Riddick is in essence a silent space survival story. We spend a good twenty or so minutes just watching Riddick interact with his environment and try to survive. It is something that could easily be boring but was thoroughly engrossing and in a way, despite the excessive CGI, was true, pure, old school filmmaking. It ironically reminded me of the first movement of Wall-E and began my film long realization as to the charisma of Vin Diesel. Along with Fast & Furious, this is Vin Diesel’s signature vehicle and up until Riddick, I had him pegged as a serviceable tough guy with a cool voice. This film didn’t change my opinion of him to an earth shattering extent, yet did make me appreciate his commanding presence more than I had in any other film of his I’ve seen.
In this opening movement it is he who must command the screen and hold your attention. Something that is quite a feat when you realize that he is most likely alone surrounded by a green screen when giving this particular part of his performance. In the second act, when the film focuses more on those pursuing Riddick and he becomes more of a little seen, mythic, creature of the night, it is an interesting approach yet one that robs us of Vin’s presence, something the film sorely misses. His voice provides some great narration (Further demonstrating why Marvel were shrewd to cast him in Guardians of the Galaxy) however this is aided by the knowing wit of this narration. This is a film that refreshingly and necessarily doesn’t take itself too seriously. With one death scene in particular being one of the sillier death scenes I have seen in a film this year if not ever, which garnered cheering and applause from my audience. This lack of pretention, along with the pure filmmaking of the first act and a realization of the true power and potential of Vin Diesel were all nice surprises to be found in this film, for me personally.
However the second act is a lull for the film and when it becomes more dialogue heavy it does start to suffer. Despite the light hearted nature of the film that does not prevent the acting and dialogue from at times being pretty shocking. The rest of the cast aren’t quite as commanding and comfortable in these surroundings as Vin and as a result the film begins to lag and drag slightly in a film that at two hours, is slightly longer than it should have been considering its simple story. The film also doesn’t quite visually exploit the set-up of its second act as much as it could have and as a whole, David Twohy could have done more in order to fully exploit the visual potential of the character of Riddick and the story of this film. The film has a female character played by Katee Sackhoff, who does the stereotypical ‘tough chick’ routine that is commonly found in these sort of films. I’m not calling the film sexist at all however there is a weird suggested rape plot point that is rather suspect.
Overall as somebody who came into Riddick knowing nothing and caring little, I came out as a convert and new fan, eager to watch the previous two films. Yes the dialogue and acting is shocking, the pacing lulls in the second half and there is too much rather poor CGI. However this was a fun film with the right attitude and some great moments. Being handed a cool, free poster of the film on my way out may have also influenced my positivity when walking out of the theater.
Movie Parliament Rating: MINORITY GOVERNMENT
By Movie Parliament Prime Minister, Michael Dalton
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