Mar 24, 2014

[Movies] Riddick (2013)

The collection of movies that are a part of in-flight entertainment can get pretty random. In this case, I wasn't expecting to catch Riddick on that tiny little screen during my flight home coming from Singapore. It just felt so random at the time - plus the fact that I first watched Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2. So it made for a strange mix.

The Chronicles of Riddick as a franchise has been rather interesting. It started as the science fiction horror movie, Pitch Black but eventually expanded into additional movies featuring the same lead character. Apart from the live-action movies, things have stemmed out to additional animated features and other TV specials.

This third movie, simply Riddick, is a somewhat weird return to the franchise, but I suppose it was inevitable. The last movie had put him in a rather "non-Riddick" position and this movie felt more like an attempt to get him back to his former status quo as a long outlaw. And he does well in this regard, I have to admit. So yeah, the movies intentions were pretty good indeed.

Synopsis: Riddick is the third movie in the science fiction movie franchise The Chronicles of Riddick.  It was written and directed by David Twohy. The lead star, Vin Diesel, also co-produced the movie.

It is 5 years after the events in The Chronicles of Riddick, our hero Riddick (Vin Diesel) has gone from outlaw on the run to Lord Marshall of the Necromonger Fleet. His rule is somewhat uneasy given  he has not adopted the Necromonger faith and there's obvious dissent in the ranks. Also tired of life as a ruler Riddick strikes a deal with Commander Vaako (Karl Urban), where he relinquishes control of the fleet in exchange for the location of his homeworld, Furya.

Vaako's aide, Krone (Andreas Apergis), is to take Riddick to Furya as promised. But instead he brings Riddick to a desolate world. Riddick figures out that he has been betrayed and goes about killing the Necromongers that brought him to this world, but is unable to kill Krone after he manages to cause a landslide that buries Riddick. But he survives the ordeal and sets about figuring out how to survive on this dead planet long enough to seek out his revenge.

The movie's color palette is predominantly in just two colors - black and orange. The orange-like scenes refer to everything that takes place on the surface of the arid, dead world that Riddick gets trapped on. Then the black stuff is really part and parcel of the Riddick universe since we have to find reasons for him to use his superior night vision. All Riddick movies share that trait and I guess we'll never get away from most of the movie taking place pretty much in the dark.

The first part of the movie just felt like the necessary back story to link the this movie with the prior one. But once you get onto his life on the dead world. it becomes a straight out survival epic of sorts. And while this is fun enough in itself, it doesn't quite build on the world-building that we saw in the prior movie. Thus it feels a lot closer to the first movie in the series and not much beyond that.

The home video version of the movie comes with an additional scene at the end, which sort of brings the story back to the whole piece with the Necromongers and all that. It felt like an afterthought really - a forced effort to keep this movie connected to the rest of the franchise. I'm not sure if there's true value in this bonus scene or if we just stick to survival piece on its own.

The movie also has the bonus of Katee Sackhoff appearing as the mercenary Dahl. As a Battlestar Galactica fan, I'm always happy to see her in genre entertainment. She totally works as the tough female character archetype, regardless of how you feel about things. And she does rather well as a sort of equal to Riddick in terms of characterization. I say "equal" only from the perspective of them being able to talk and such. Of course we have to work with the assumption that no one can fight and kill better than Riddick himself.

The core story of Riddick playing off against the two mercenary groups gets a little confusing, especially given the darker shade of lighting used. And while I do appreciate the effort to try to connect some of their back story to the first movie with the history of the mercenary John (Matthew Nable), but it feels most like an Easter egg of sorts more than anything else.

Riddick is a fun movie for those who enjoy Vin Diesel being all tough in a science fiction setting (as opposed to while stealing cars or whatever). It's okay on its own, but I really don't feel like it works well with respect to the rest of the Riddick universe and so it sort of fails on the storytelling level. But it's not all bad and so the movie rates a decent 3 CGI aliens attacking in the dark out of a possible 5.

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