Review: Riddick (DVD/BR)
The Review: In 2000, a rather splendid sci fi film was released called Pitch Black, made on a low budget, directed by David Twohy and featuring a then virtually unknown Vin Diesel, it went on to become a sizable sleeper hit, spawning an animated spin off, a computer game and in 2004 – a sequel called The Chronicles of Riddick – again featuring the gravel voiced Diesel and directed by David Twohy.
Now as far as the 2nd film goes I must be one of the only people that really liked it, its a bit of an oddity to be sure, featuring baddies called Necromongers, Judy Dench as a transparent being called an Ethereal and some weirdness about a place called Underverse. Chronicles played like a cross between Star Wars and Firefly, it was inventive, original, well made and action packed –but despite this , it was a critical and commercial disappointment and as a result the franchise looked dead and buried – however strong dvd sales and an on-going cult following, resulted in a third chapter getting the green light.
Released theatrically last year to relatively good box office, Riddick made its bow on dvd/blu ray last month and I’m happy to say that its not bad at all.
Plot wise – it picks up with Riddick being double crossed by the Necromongers and abandoned on a desolate backwater planet. Having no way to escape, he sends out a distress signal, which results in two teams of mercenaries arriving in the hope of capturing him and claiming the hefty bounty that is on his head. However, things soon take a rapid turn for the worst when Riddick and the mercenaries find them selves surrounded by a horde of fanged flesh eating creatures and have to concoct a desperate plan to get off the planet before they all end up on the menu.
Going back to basics, Riddick is a very much akin to Pitch Black, Diesel and Twohy seemingly abandoning the expanded universe of the 2nd film and focussing more on the man vs monsters theme that made the original so enjoyable.
Despite the low budget, the visual effects are impressive, the action is very well handled, there’s bags of blood, violence and swearing, and Diesel is once again suitably bad ass as the film’s seemingly indestructible Snake Plissken alike anti hero. On the negative side – the plot bears far too much resemblance to Pitch Black and it has a somewhat sexist macho streak running through it that some may be offended by.
Diesel has recently stated on his Facebook page that, due the success of the film both at the cinema and on dvd, Universal have approached him to make a 4th entry in the series – of this I would advise caution as there is a danger of going to the well far too often – the Riddick trilogy has certainly been popular – however its never done Star Wars levels of box office, and the 2nd film was seen by some as extremely silly an a bit of an epic failure when it was 1st released, plus one gets the feeling that the studio may well be indulging big Vin so as to keep him signing on for more lucrative Fast and Furious sequels.
In my opinion this franchise would be better served continuing on the small screen – more and more we are seeing big stars like Woody Harrelson, Steve Buscemi, Kevin Spacey and even Matthew McConaughey, making highly acclaimed top quality TV series – and there is no reason that their success cannot be replicated by Twohy and Diesel with the Riddick character, – as we have seen with the updated Battlestar Galactica – good writing, interesting characters and fast paced action is a sure fire recipe for success – not only that -apart from Doctor Who – there are no new space set TV series on the horizon at the moment – so there is definitely a gap in the market.
So overall, I would certainly recommend Riddick –a bit daft but a good solid Friday nights entertainment best enjoyed with a six pack and a takeaway.
Reviewed By: Will Strong
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