By Mark Saldana
Rating: 2.5 (Out of 4 Stars)
Running at 119 minutes (one minute shy of two hours), the next chapter in the saga of Richard B. Riddick actually feels much longer. Each of the film’s main acts have moments that drag and stagger somewhat. The final act of the film treads enough of the familiar ground of the first film (Pitch Black) to play out like a lame sequel rehash. Despite these issues, writer Jim Wheat and writer/director David Twohy do deserve some credit for delivering some entertainment goods, but not enough for me to recommend spending top dollar to see it.
Abandoned by the Necromongers on a bleak ghost world of a planet, Riddick (Vin Diesel) decides to return to his hardened killing machine roots. After enjoying the excesses of “civilized” living, Riddick adopts a simple animalistic life of living off the land. After surviving the harsh conditions and animal life of the planet, Riddick wants off and sends a rescue beacon which attracts the attention of bounty hunters. These mercenaries, of course, stand to make a lot of money if they can capture Riddick, alive or dead.
Wheat and Twohy’s script spends way too much time on Riddick’s survivalist training and his training of a dog-like creature as his companion. My guest to the screening compared this part of the film to Rocky Balboa’s return-to-roots training, but Rocky’s training has been presented in tautly edited montages. This first act of the film didn’t have to be so long. In fact, each major act runs on way too long. Twohy’s film could have used some more efficient writing and editing to keep the film running at a more exciting pace.
The final act of the movie comes across as an attempt to recapture the suspense and thrills of Pitch Black, but the filmmakers didn’t really attempt anything too dynamically different. Thankfully, this installment of the series lacks some of the silly action tropes of The Chronicles of Riddick that made me groan with annoyance. This time, my annoyance came from its staggered pace. That is not to say that I didn’t find some enjoyment in the movie. The filmmakers do retain the sly and wicked sense of humor that fans have come to expect with a Riddick movie and the cast members all perform decently.
In addition to Diesel, Riddick stars Jordi Molla, Matt Nable, and Katee Sackhoff. Molla, who portrays Santana, has some hilarious screen time as an arrogant and inept bounty hunter intent on capturing Riddick’s head. Nable stars as Johns, another bounty hunter leader who has his sights on Riddick as well, but has a smarter plan to do so. His second in command, Dahl, is played by the badass and sexy Katee Sackhoff, who probably is best known as Starbuck from the 2004-2009 Battlestar Galactica series. As for Diesel, I cannot honestly see anyone else portray Riddick. He truly has made this character his own (artistically and legally). Even though his films have its flaws, it is fun and exciting to see Diesel portray this badass antihero.
Still, because of this installment’s flaws, I will recommend that people wait to see it as a movie rental. I especially recommend this, if one has a nice flat screen HD television. The screening I attended presented the film on a mini IMAX screen which looked gorgeous; however, the writing problems would have really irked me if I had paid twelve dollars for the eye candy. I prefer my junk food to be more fulfilling.