Riddick (2013)

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

So I guess I’m going to have to be that guy who laments for the Chronicles of Riddick series that never was. Without going into extensive detail, I was a tremendous fan of the second (live action) Riddick film (i.e., The Chronicles of Riddick), because flaws notwithstanding (e.g., it tilted toward operatic), it was a tale built upon ideas. Perhaps, in a way, too many ideas, but I admired it on many levels for its storytelling and worldbuilding, and ultimately, for setting up a fascinating arc for its protagonist–I looked forward to watching it play out.

As a star vehicle for Vin Diesel, it fit like a glove, so understandably, it felt like a real labor of love for Diesel, as well as director/writer David Twohy. Almost as if they were so amazed that somebody had greenlighted a science fiction epic as a follow-up to the straightforward Pitch Black, they got kinda giddy about it, resulting in a film that included all but the kitchen sink. I can understand why some critics may have thought it all seemed overwrought, but from my perspective, I loved the filmmakers for what they tried to pull off, and I will forever wish The Chronicles of Riddick had been the hit it deserved to be.

But it wasn’t, so the series languished for a while, apparently dead, really, until somehow Vin Diesel, I believe, freed up the rights to the character, and square one became the direction.

So with regards to this more recent attempt to revive the character by returning to the sort of ground trod upon in the original Riddick film, Pitch Black, well…you can understand why I may have felt a bit underwhelmed. Where Chronicles was a film of ideas, Riddick didn’t seem to have many at all. That’s not a criticism, really, but obviously, it’s hardly a compliment, either.

Structurally, I did have some issues with Riddick, in that the film ambled along for far too long before letting the monsters loose. And then when it happened, it passed far too quickly, and without any particularly interesting set pieces. Most of the good stuff had preceded it, actually, and it might be said that the biggest flaw in Riddick was that the final 30 minutes weren’t nearly as entertaining as the first 30 minutes.

For a more extensive review, I would encourage anybody reading this to jump down to the second opinions section and visit Blessed Are the Geeks, because while I don’t subscribe to Donald’s enthusiasm for Riddick, he does a fine job of discussing it.

I mean…part of the problem with Riddick is that there sort of isn’t a whole lot to discuss. In an odd way, that may be its strength, but it also may be its weakness. There was potential in the set-up, but for an action horror film, it simply felt surprisingly light on both, to be honest, once the main plot kicked in.