Riddick (2013)

Riddick (2013)

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.

Drive, Fast Five, Star Wars: The Old Republic

So I’m moving this blog onto a semi-annual schedule. ha ha.

Well, yeah, it’s clear that I no longer have any will to keep this blog regular updated, but I’ll post a few things just for the hell of it, and because there are maybe two people out there who might actually care.

Drive (2011)

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

They should have just called this film The Transporter 4. Seriously. Same movie.

Surprisingly positive reviews–from both regular people and critics–notwithstanding, I really wasn’t overly impressed with the film. This was a movie in which the lead character was a cipher (I just read a review on the IMDb where the user called him a “nice guy psychopath”, and I thought that was both funny and pretty apt), and the only things keeping your interest were the performances by the supporting players. Bryan Cranston and Ron Perlman were predictably reliable, though Albert Brooks walked away with the film.

But none of it felt like quite enough. The plot was a bit too straightforward, and the main character’s motivation was obscured by his total inscrutability. Also, I wouldn’t mind if somebody would explain to me why the soundtrack was all retro-80s European.

On a side note, Albert Brooks is the sort of actor who should really just be in every movie. He’s always entertaining.

Fast Five (2011)

Rating: ★★☆☆☆ 

At the risk of having to forfeit my membership to the “guy movie” fanclub (which maybe I already did when I slammed The Expendables), I’m just going to be honest here: this movie blew. Paul Walker is still one of the shittiest actors on the planet, the narrative was even more cartoonish than usual–it attempted to pull off a heist plotline in a half-hearted way that merely subtracted time we might have actually been seeing car racing–the characters are all ridiculous, the dialogue was cringe-worthy…do I need to go on?

I mean, I didn’t exact hate watching it. My wife and I had some good chuckles about how cheesy it all was. And the final chase sequence in which two cars dragged a giant metal vault through city streets was neat. But all in all, these films have drifted further and further from where they started out. Not that I’m trying to hold up The Fast and the Furious as some sort of paragon of filmmaking, but it at least kind of attempted to be a real movie.

Okay, enough about movies. Let’s move onto video games.

Star Wars: The Old Republic

Rating: ★★★★★ 

If you’ve been paying attention, you probably noticed me talking about this game for the past few years. Yes, I’m one of these nerds who preordered the game and was logged in about two seconds after the servers came online for early access back in mid-December. I had been eagerly awaiting it for a while, though I think I was always–at most–cautiously optimistic, because I know how game developers promise the moon during development and then somehow, the pieces just don’t come together at launch. Even after having a couple of opportunities to be a part of short-term testing for Star Wars: The Old Republic, I kept my expectations in check.

So maybe that’s why I think this game is so amazing, because I never built it up in my mind to be something that it was never intended to be, or perhaps never could be. The haters have referred to SWTOR as World of Warcraft in space, but I just find that to be unfathomably stupid. Did BioWare employ genre standard game mechanics? Sure. Why wouldn’t they? World of Warcraft is a good game (or it was, anyway, when I played it years ago). I mean, most of these MMORPGs don’t diverge radically from the general template. I don’t consider that a bad thing.

But with all of that said, this is Star Wars, heart and soul. The other day a member of my guild commented that he felt as though his character was an actual character from the movies, and I think that encapsulates BioWare’s ultimate success on this title.

The image is of my Sith Warrior who is, in every way, the baddest of asses. I’ve almost reached the level cap with him, and I’ve had a blast. Combat, dialogue decisions, interactions with my companion characters, etc. Look, I like it all, but the reason I think SWTOR is such a game changer is–as BioWare have always said–the fully-voiced dialogue. Perhaps only EA’s accountants know how much they spent to get every single quest giver a quality voice actor, but I’ll be damned if it wasn’t a crazy smart investment, because in my opinion, it literally puts SWTOR in a different class from any other MMORPG that’s out right now. Playing the game does often feel like an interactive cinematic experience.

Anyway, this probably deserves a way more thorough review than I intended to provide here, but at the very least, I think this one is worth playing for the first month just to try to play through the class storyline of a single class, because this truly benefits from the start to finish theme park experience of a single-player RPG combined with the social benefits of an MMO.

And that’s all I’m going to say about that.