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Movie Review: ‘Riddick’

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Five years have passed for Riddick (Vin Diesel), who has grown uneasy in his role as Lord Marshall of the Necromonger empire. He fears assassination everywhere, going so far as to deny the hottest of RiddickScreenshotladies sexual satisfaction, knowing that they could kill him while he’s most vulnerable.  He needs a way out. But typically there’s only one way people can leave the throne – death.

After striking a deal with Commander Vaako (Karl Urban), Riddick has agreed to hand over his position as Lord Marshall in exchange for a ticket back to his home planet of Furya. Riddick is finally going home; or so he believes.  Betrayed by Vaako, Riddick finds himself left for dead on a barren planet, full of dangerous creatures that lie dormant, waiting for the next wet season to set them free. A storm is coming. If Riddick wants to survive, he has to get off this planet – luckily, he has a plan.

In a way, Riddick is a homage to first film in the series, Pitch Black, which pitted badass vs. monster in a film designed purely to provide bloody entertainment. Riddick embraces this simplistic approach, giving the audience all the dark humor, brutal kills, and testosterone they could possibly handle, without the excessiveness of the last sequel. To put it another way, Riddick is both unreasonably ridiculous and absolutely awesome. If you’re looking for an escape from reality, this movie is definitely for you.

So, how does Riddick plan to end his exile? By baiting a bunch of bounty hunters to the planet, killing them off one-by-one, and hijacking their ship. It’s a simple plan, really. But what he doesn’t expect is that the father of William Johns, the bounty hunter who captured Riddick in Pitch Black, would be the one to show up, motivated by the loss of his son.

As a fan of the franchise, I was surprised how well Riddick fit in with the other two films, finally leaving the disconnected series feeling united by common characters.  It was also a relief not to have this film bogged down with some romantic interest for Riddick, whose only interaction with women in this movie  involves obscene sexual comments — just as it should be. Riddick is way, way too cold to be loving-up female co-stars.

This is a dark, violent movie, but it’s also really funny.  When Riddick isn’t dragging men off into the darkness for execution, he’s mocking the empty threats of his enemies, showing no fear even when chained to a wall with a knife to his throat. Yeah, being too cool to die doesn’t leave much room for suspense, but I was too busy being entertained to care.

Riddick is the quintessential antihero, motivated by survival at any costs. Yet, I find myself rooting for him not only because he’s so cool, but also because I can’t help but feel like he’s a victim of circumstance. Sure, he’s largely an underdeveloped character archetype of the movie tough-guy, but he’s still likeable and interesting, largely because Vin Diesel seems like he was born to play the role.

Riddick’s good nature also surfaces, giving him humanity without sacrificing his badass image. One disturbing scene featured Riddick staring into the eyes of a woman as she died. It’s sick for sure. However, you get the idea that he wants to help her, doing what he can to comfort her silently, too afraid to give up his position. He also develops an interesting relationship with a CGI dog, who gives the Furyian something to interact with while he’s alone on the planet. That’s right, there are boy-and-his-dog moments in Riddick, and they work a lot better than you may think.

The Chronicles of Riddick film franchise has always felt like a comic book to me; it’s set in an over-the-top vision of a future reality, aiming only to provide some cool visuals and a little bit of fun. And to that end, Riddick succeeds perfectly in its goal. It’s been almost a decade since we’ve seen Riddick on the big screen; however, especially for a fan like me, this latest sequel was well worth the wait.

If you weren’t fond of Pitch Black, it’s unlikely that Riddick will change your mind. But if you’re like me and you enjoyed the hell out of the previous movies and video games, Riddick is a satisfying film that ends summer on a high note. I am now anxiously awaiting the next chapter. Here’s to hoping we don’t have to wait a decade for the next round  – I really want to see this series come to a close; not die somewhere in development hell.

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About Chad Michael Van Alstin

Chad is an award-winning libertarian opinion columnist. He's done with that now. Having earned himself a B.A. in Mass Communication, Chad now spends most of his time as a wage laborer, killing the pain by consuming as many video games and movies as possible. Follow him on Twitter: @ChadVanAlstin
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