Thursday, January 30, 2014
Riddick is the best movie ever made.
Oh wait, I'm sorry... I accidentally left a word out of that sentence. I meant to write:
"Riddick is the best Riddick movie ever made."
And anybody knows me, knows what high praise that is, since I'm a fan of Vin Diesel in general, but of Riddick in particular. Vin Diesel is a fine actor, but not one who has shown a whole lot of depth or versatility over his career, so when I single out Riddick as my favorite of his characters that's only because Riddick tends to kill the most people, and Riddick the film gives him probably the most people (and monsters!) to kill. It also maybe has the most thoughtful attempt at an actual story, but that's neither here nor there. We were talking about Riddick, right?
Riddick premiered in the 2000 film Pitch Black, which was a very fun film that was elevated over a sci-fi channel original movie for one reason: the star making performance by Vin Diesel. Well, the rest of the cast was fine too, and David Twohy is a very good action director, but the story about an escaped convict who can see in the dark, then gets marooned on a planet full of aliens that only come out at night is as B grade as it comes. Still, fun, albeit thin film that was a sleeper hit and made Vin Diesel a star.
Cut to 2004 and the release of The Chronicles of Riddick, the half-baked attempt to turn Riddick into an epic sci-fi film franchise. I loved The Chronicles of Riddick. I literally own three different copies of this film: I own the DVD, I own the DVD as a part of a Riddick trilogy pack (along with Pitch Black and a Riddick anime), and I also own the Blu Ray. It's one of my all time favorite movies, and seeing it in the theater ranks as one of the greatest film spectacles I've ever witnessed. It's just so epic and over the top. However, it was a huge flop because nobody but me and maybe a handful of other nerds give a shit about epic sci-fi adventures. Had this been just some random sci-fi film, it would have just been a flop, but the fact that it starred the guy from Pitch Black made the fans of that film who expected more of the same actively hate this one. I can't really blame them, since Pitch Black was more like Alien, while Chronicles was more like Dune meets Dungeons and Dragons. It's the weirdest movie a major Hollywood studio has ever released in the theaters... weird in concept, but also weird that they thought it would make enough money to spawn a whole series.
Anyway, I told you that Riddick history lesson so I could tell you this: Riddick (the 2013 film), is the perfect bridge between the stripped down thrills of Pitch Black and the epic world-building of Chronicles. It's defintiely a sequel to Chronicles, since its opening fifteen or so minutes attempts to resolve the cliff-hanger ending from the previous film, but after that it goes full on into Pitch Black territory, with Riddick left for dead on yet another planet full of mercs out to capture him and monsters out to kill him. And that's just fine.
There is actually a good thirty or so minutes of this film that has Riddick alone on this planet, attempting to find shelter and food and fend off the elements and various predators... and it's amazing. It's basically like that movie Cast Away, except it's got Riddick in place of Tom Hanks, and instead of making friends with a volleyball, he murders a giant scorpion monster.
And then the mercenaries come to capture Riddick, although little to they know they were actually lured there by Riddick so he could escape. In a first for the series, the mercs are actually given some depth and aren't all just villains. In fact, the dynamic between Riddick and the main merc played by Matthew Nable is one of the highlights of the film, and kept me guessing about each one's motivations and intentions right up until the end. This guy was actually the first character in the entire series that felt like a threat to Riddick. The rest of the cast was a lot of fun too, and included the always good but underused Bokeem Woodbine, the gorgeous Katie Sackhoff from Battlestar Galactica, and former WWE star Batista, who should basically play a villain in every movie ever (I already raved about him in my review of The Man with the Iron Fists).
Oh, and Riddick also kills a bunch of people and lots of monsters, after which he always made a joke. That should have been my whole review right there. Oh, and there's also some boobs.
Anyway... that's Riddick. Go rent it. You'll have fun.