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Movie Review: ‘Riddick’

by Bob Garver.

Sept. 9, 2013. I have no idea why anybody would want to see a third “Riddick” movie in 2013. We first met Riddick (Vin Diesel) in a 2000 sci-fi/horror movie called “Pitch Black.” The film turned a small profit, making $39 million at the domestic box office on a budget of $23 million. Four years later, Vin Diesel was a bigger star, and so a bigger budget was allotted for a sequel. “The Chronicles of Riddick” cost $105 million and flopped at $56 million. It also got dreadful reviews and took years off Diesel’s career. Now we’re being asked to rejoin a franchise whose last installment was a movie that lost nearly $50 million nine years ago.

To be fair, the new film tries its best to distance itself from “The Chronicles of Riddick.” All too quickly Riddick forfeits his title of Lord Marshal of the Necromongers (don’t ask( in exchange for a ride to his home planet. The Necromongers instead take him to an unfamiliar desert planet where they leave him for dead. And just like that, “Chronicles” is written off and I say good riddance. The elaborate fantasy world of that film was too expensive and it was a bad fit for Riddick’s goon-like disposition. Of course, this does mean that we’ll probably get an unfortunate sequel where Riddick gets reveenge on the Necromongers.

Riddick does his best to survive on the new planet (even domesticating a hideous zebra-dog), but realizes he won’t last long with cyclones of scorpions living in the planet’s water supply. He’s very much a wanted fugitive, so he decides to bait two groups of bounty hunters into landing on the planet. One tam is led by Santana (Jordi Molla), a character so instantly annoying it’s a wonder his men don’t kill him themselves on the ride over. The other, more intimidating group is led by Johns (Matt Nable), who has a personal score to settle with Riddick. The movie assumes that you’ll recognize the name Johns from “Pitch Black,” a film that made less than $40 million 13 years ago. The film also assumes that you won’t question why the 41 year-old Nable is playing the father of the 38-year-old Cole Hauser. Riddick’s plan is to steal one team’s ship and let them all escape together on the other one. The teams don’t cooperate with him, or each other, and soon it looks as though nobody may get off the planet alive.

Like “Pitch Black,” the bulk of “Riddick” is a typical slasher movie with alien scorpions as the killers. We’re supposed to get enjoyment out of guessing which of the bounty hunters will live the longest and how creative and gruesome the deaths will be. Riddick gets in a few funny lines, usually pertaining to how violent he is or how dumb everyone else is to mess with him. The same can be said of Dahl (Katee Sackhoff), a female bounty hunter from Johns’ team who likes to flaunt her violent tendencies. She also does another kind of scene that gets the male audience howling, though not with laughter.

If you look hard enough, you can find some fun moments in “Riddick.” But there’s no reason why this film should exist. The main reason why “The Chronicles of Riddick” flopped (aside from that it was horrible) was because Diesel and director David Twohy saw a franchise where there wasn’t one And now they want to continue this franchise that never was, using characters and story lines that nobody remembers. I know it makes sense to release a movie where Vin Diesel shoots and fights a lot, but why add to this disaster of a series? If anything, they should have just remade “Pitch Black.”

One and a half stars out of five. 

“Riddick” is rated R for strong violence, language and some sexual content and nudity. Its running time is 119 minutes.