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RIDDICK (review)

Review by Clay N Ferno
Produced by Vin Diesel, Ted Field, 
Samantha Vincent
Written by David Twohy, Oliver Butcher, 
Stephen Cornwell
Based on Characters Created by 
Jim Wheat, Ken Wheat
Directed by David Twohy
Starring Vin Diesel, Jordi Mollà, 
Matt Nable, Katee Sackhoff, 
Dave Bautista, Bokeem Woodbine,
 Raoul Trujillo, Karl Urban

Radar Pictures/One Race Films / Rated R

Riddick, the third film in the Chronicles of Riddick series takes us to a lonesome desert planet where our shiny-eyed star Vin Diesel fights for his life against alien forces of nature and two team of bounty hunters looking for his head.

The underground appeal of the past films coupled with Vin Diesel’s recent box office success spawned this chapter, costarring briefly Karl Urban (Star Trek, Dredd) as his nemesis and reason for exile as well as Katee Sackhoff (Battlestar Galactica) channelling Starbuck in her bounty hunter role.

There is action, bloody horror and creepy space beasts in the end of summer Riddick directed by franchise creator David Twohy.

Riddick starts off with our hero playing the part of Taylor in Planet of the Apes (via the sands of Man of Steel‘s Krypton!), on a barren world, leg injured by a fall. He hides from a pack of bloodthirsty Dingo space dogs with no weapons yet, finding shelter in a cave.

His next foe are the lizard aliens with long tails. The tails have eyes and peek out from the puddles they live in, pulse the venom from the monsters can incapacitate and kill. Riddick’s plan to escape to the high ground where there is fresh water and a bungalow includes getting past these disgusting beasts.

Patiently, he and his dingo pup build an immunity to the venom and he slices and dices his way to the promised land. The CGI in the movie is top notch, the monsters are creepy crawly and gross and will have you looking under the bed at night for weeks.

On the opposite side of disgusting is the dingo pup Riddick nurses to be a huge companion beast dog. A brindled space pup, our good boy is well trained and a main character in the movie. He’s Krypto for all intents and purposes and when the dog is injured, sighs of empathy exude from every seat in the place.

Movie technology these days is so far advanced, I felt as though the IMAX screening was thoroughly worth the extra money. Shots of the alien landscape, impossible caves, land-speeder cycles and even the straight up Sam Raimi tribute B-Movie gore tropes sing on the screen. What is lacking in the sparse dialogue is made up for in the fact that this is a beautiful film to watch. And very, very fun.

Riddick activates the rescue beacon and the price on his head spawns two teams, with eleven soldiers total to take down Riddick.

Santana (Jordi Mollà) leads the bastard team of tough guys looking to literally put Riddick’s head in a box. On the other ship, Boss Jones (Matt Nable) is the Yin to Santana’s Yang. A cool headed boss with the right gear and regulations, Jones has a vendetta but wants Riddick alive. Dahl (Katee Sackhoff) plays Jones’ lesbian sidekick, showing plenty of skin, and rehashing her Starbuck role almost to a T. She’s got the big guns, gray tops, take no B.S. of Kara Thrace. She’s beautiful and great, really, just not showing any more of her acting chops that we haven’t already become familiar with after five seasons of Battlestar Galactica.

Riddick plays Ten Little Indians with the crew, and sets them against each other from afar and with different scenarios that challenge the crews as he eyes their ships for escape.

Riddick loses out in a standoff negotiation and ends up in chains.

The third act of the movie is where all of the action comes of course. Riddick knows the environment and knows a very real threat, native to the planet threatens all of the survivors livelihood and teamwork is the only way anyone will be getting off planet.

This movie can stand alone from the rest of the franchise, just as Prometheus does for Alien.

Even more to the point, besides Vaako’s (Karl Urban) brief banishment of Riddick in the first act, we are just alone on this planet with a boy and his dog waiting for ships to arrive so he can leave. Separating this story from the rest, or making this a different movie than the steeped in continuity comic book movies of the summer gives the geek’s brain a rest from all of the usual annoyances.

The simplicity of the plot is its strength, though some critics may say this means the story is dumbed down. I would disagree with that argument and counter that this is a deftly constructed sci-fi action movie with horror movie elements. The movie has need to be any complicated than the mash up of genres!

We’re given great action in this Vin Diesel movie with none of the cars. Just a badass dude with a brontosaurus bone sword and night vision.

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