This one's worth checking out.

This one’s worth checking out.

Riddick, totally not fighting a Xenomorph.

Riddick, totally not fighting a Xenomorph.

Well, there's nudity, so...

Well, there’s nudity, so…

The movies starring Riddick seem to be suffering from the Rambo syndrome of chronologically confusing sequel titles. First came Pitch Black, then we got The Chronicles of Riddick and now it’s just, well, Riddick. Future generations might falsely believe that this film came first, as they will also be unaware Rambo is actually the fourth film in the Rambo series.

Although not great, Riddick is good, moreso in some parts than others. Its structure makes it feel like three seperate movies rather than just one and it is up to you which one is your favorite, I guess.

First of all, we join Riddick, a bright-eyed badass played once again by Vin Diesel, as he finds himself deserted on an unknown, Sepia-toned planet. After being crowned as the new leader of an alien warrior race known as The Necromongers, he was alas double-crossed by his subordinate Vaako (Karl Urban) and left for dead on a planet full of things trying to kill him. The first third or so of the film consists of Riddick trying to fend for himself and trying to fight these things off and ultimately taming one of them. I like this part of the film and could probably watch an entire movie starring only Riddick and a bunch of hostile creatures, although my father stated that it was a bit too derivative of Pitch Black. I need to rewatch it.

Either way, Riddick locates an emergency beacon of sorts and attracts the attention of two ships. One containing a team of bounty hunters lead by a hammy, Spanish nutcase (Jordi Mollà) and one containing mercenaries, whose commander (played by Matthew Nable) is revealed to be the father of William Johns, another merc whom Riddick killed during the events of Pitch Black. These two teams reluctantly work together to capture Riddick, that is until we reach the third part of the movie where it’s Riddick, the mercenaries and the bounty hunters vs. the monsters on the planet. Action, violence and some nudity ensues.

Riddick team

Oh and speaking of nudity and the suchwise, one of the side characters is a stereotypically tough and snarky lesbian woman played by Katee Sackhoff. Her character is clichéd enough as it is, but it gets better: she claims she only has sex with women, but when she meets Riddick (SPOILERS) she’s suddenly willing to make an exception. That’s how sexuality works, kids. If you have a preferred gender, you can still completely change your mind on the grounds that a person does something impressive enough that you have no choice but to randomly have sex with them. Or maybe she was bi the whole time; what do I know?

I did find Riddick entertaining regardless. What seems clear is that Riddick is the character Vin Diesel wants to play; after all, he did a significant deal of the financing for this movie. Another critic pointed out that he appears to be having much more fun starring in the Riddick movies than in any of those constantly worsening The Fast and The Furious sequels. I haven’t seen them myself, nor do I feel like it. Either way, Vin Diesel’s performance carries the film nicely and is very enjoyable to watch, as per usual.

However, since the budget came mostly from only Diesel’s bank account there are some lackluster effects here and there. One moment involves Riddick and some of the generically tough side-characters riding on hovering bikes in a scene that looks very much like it was shot against a green screen. Also, it could be a coincidental similarity, but I’m pretty sure writer-director David Twohy stole the whole “Moon with a hole through it” idea from Oblivion. Look at the background during certain shots; you will notice a moon that looks like a meteor just penetrated it, complete with debris inexplicably suspended in mid-air (or should that be mid-vacuum?) rather than being affected by the gravity of neither the moon itself nor the planet it orbits. This science flaw was also in Oblivion, though, so I guess I won’t complain.

I will recommend Riddick as a fun little “Rated M for Manly” action-fest, as it gets the job done in terms of being just that, but many of the characters are either generic or hammy and there are some truly fake-looking effects as well as scenes that are shot too close, possibly in order to cloak some of the lackluster effects. I won’t give it a high rating, but I will say that it’s still worth checking out if you’re looking for some mindlessly entertaining R-rated fun.

3.5/5 whatever