Review for Vin Diesel’s ‘Riddick’ (Blu-ray)

‘Riddick’ Uncut is released on Blu-ray and DVD today, but is it worth your buck? I weigh the pros and cons of this potentially fiscal dilemma.

Blu-ray cover

Betrayed by his own kind and left for dead on a desolate planet, Riddick fights for survival against alien predators and becomes more powerful and dangerous than ever before. Soon bounty hunters from throughout the galaxy descend on Riddick only to find themselves pawns in his greater scheme for revenge.

 

It seems it was only a matter of time before Vin Diesel donned the iconic contact lenses and goggles to reprise the role of the formidable anti-hero Riddick – the character that had a helping hand in kick-starting his career back in 2000’s ‘Pitch Black’. In the latest installment of the Riddick saga, Vin and director David Twohy have scaled back on the colossal galactic universe they created in 2004’s ‘The Chronicles Of Riddick’ and aimed for a more sombre back-to-basics approach that made the first feature a sufficiently competent sci-fi. Working with a quarter of the budget, Twohy and Diesel managed to round up an impressive ensemble cast including Karl Urban (Star Trek, Dredd), Katee Sackhoff (“Battlestar Galactica”), Jordi Mollà (Columbiana),WWE superstar Dave Bautista (Marvels upcoming “Guardians of the Galaxy”) and Bokeem Woodbine (Total Recall).

Jordi Molla and crew
Friendly bunch

From the outset, the slow paced one-man-journey is a surprisingly nice touch, which allows for some staggeringly visual backdrops and fiendishly entertaining encounters with some unfriendly inhabitants. It is due to this nicely paced beginning that we are able to see a less demanding side of Riddick, as he builds a strong companionship with a canine like creature, which makes for some nice comedic elements and empathetic touches.

 creatures of the nightThe 2nd act of the film is when the fun really begins, with Riddick becoming what we love about him; and what essentially defines him: a monster in the darkness, toying and playing with his prey in a daunting game of hide-and-seek. It is during this second act – with the arrival of Jordi Mollàs’ character and his crew of bounty hunters  – that Mollàs’ pulls off a memorable performance as the aptly named ‘Santana’; playing it slightly over-the-top and juxtaposing an ominously menacing character – ruthless in his agenda of capturing Riddick – with a comedic, fawning and sycophantic twist. The character could have been terribly clichéd, however, Mollàs is having fun with the role, and pulls it off with generous conviction.

Katee Sackoff as a no-holds-barred mercenary
Katee Sackoff of ‘Battlestar Galactica’ fame.

The film unfortunately loses its way towards the final act, despite fan favourite Katie Sackhoff showing up as a ruthless mercenary and potential love interest (if a fourth gets greenlit). The ending feels rushed and unfulfilled in comparison to the strong 1st and 2nd acts. Akin to the old adage – when it rains it pours – suggesting that the worst is yet to come; it is a perfect microcosmic analogy that sufficiently nods toward the sudden drop in quality that encroaches way too deeply into Pitch Black’s stratospheric sensibilities and thus, losing it’s own idiosyncratic identity that was so adeptly and promisingly incrementing in the first two acts.

As a result, the conclusion becomes a standardised rehash failing to carve out its own mesospheric identity with too much acknowledgment focused on the fundamental aspects, which made the first movie a cut above the rest on it’s original release. However, despite this, Riddick is a film that will satisfy fans and non-fans respectively, and is a welcome return to the role that defined Vin as a bona-fide action star in Holywood.

The Unrated version will no doubt be even more appealing to core fans of the franchise with both: an extended intro (with similarities to the ‘Blindsided’ comic) and an alternate ending that further addresses the Underverse – filling the gaps from ‘Chronicles’ – and connecting the Necromonger / Furya storyline that runs throughout ‘Chronicles’. Saying anymore would lead to spoilers, but overall it is a far more satisfying cut for fans of the second installment with a fulfilling ending that ambivalently comes full circle, whilst leaving an opening for the creative team of Twohy and Diesel.

Not only does ‘Riddick’ look visually stunning; but it also exudes an atypical authenticity from a combination of multifaceted aspects which all point to the ethos of a good director at the helm, implementing a thorough determination and relentless ambition both; to entertain the casual film goer and to please the core fans of the franchise. It also goes to show that creativity is sometimes best produced under constraints due to the fact there is no room left for complacency. Testament to the effort that went into getting this film kick-started – and off the ground; is the abundance of extras, featuring interviews with the cast, crew and director.

Riddick toying with prey
Hide and Seek

Bonus Features on on Blu-ray™:

The Twohy Touch: A short film featuring director David Twohy discussing the developmental process involved in bringing the third installment of the highly conceptual sci-fi epic to light. This includes on-set footage offering insight into the processes and challenges in bringing Twohy and Diesels’ unrestrained visions from the conceptually embryonic beginnings to the pragmatic, tangible outcome, whilst enwrapped within confined and limited fiscal boundaries.

Riddickian Tech: The effects team, talk about the technologies used to create the stunning visuals displayed so confidently and boldly in the film, from the more expensive practical effects to the wonders of the green screen that made it possible to bring the octane fueled planetary depths of Riddicks’ unknown, unexplored surroundings to the big screen.

The World Of Riddick—Key members of the filmmaking team, including director David Twohy, production designer Joseph C. Nemec III and director of photography David Eggby talk about the inspiration and influences behind the film’s vivid and unique visuals and savage predators.

Bonus Features on Blu-ray™ and DVD

Vin’s Riddick—Vin Diesel, his co-stars and the entire filmmaking team provide an inside look at the superstar’s passion for everything from the film’s production and development to his intensive physical training, as well as just what makes Diesel ideal for the role of the indestructible Richard B. Riddick.

Meet The Mercs—From Karl Urban and Katee Sackhoff to Jordi Mollà, Dave Bautista, Bokeem Woodbine, and Nolan Gerard Funk, this featurette spotlights the dynamic supporting cast of Riddick and the characters they portray, exploring what the actors bring to their roles, as well as the weapons and clothing styles that define them to enhance this heart-stopping thriller.

Riddick: Blindsided—A motion comic prequel to Riddick that fills in the gap since 2004’s The Chronicles of Riddick.

3.5 out of 5

3 out of 5 (Blu-ray extras)

 

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