Sunday, September 8, 2013

Review: Riddick

Image courtesy of Universal Pictures
Those who like their science fiction to alternate between overly ponderous sequences and grotesque, but dopey, violence with a touch of a sexual assault vibe and a visual style that could best be described as a "spray tan," then "Riddick" could be just the film for you.

For those of you who thinks this sounds torturous, it probably will be.

For those unfamiliar with the franchise, David Twohy's picture is a follow up to 2000's "Pitch Black," a minor sci-fi horror film that helped propel the career of Vin Diesel, who would soon become a star with the "Fast and the Furious" films and "XXX." That film was followed by "The Chronicles of Riddick," a bland outer space action film.

Now, in this latest movie, the violent planet-hopping criminal Riddick (Diesel) has landed on a planet that appears more coppery than anything in "300" with a group of bounty hunters following close behind. But first, we must experience the film's first 20 minutes or so in which Diesel pals around with a mangy coyote-looking thing and battles off some bland serpents that keep emerging from the water.

Then we get to the aforementioned bounty hunters, who are a decidedly mixed lot. There's the Bible quoting pretty boy (Nolan Gerard Funk), the meathead muscle (Dave Bautista), the sleazy leader (Jordi Molla) and others. The one thing they have in common is that most of them - Riddick included - make really blatant advances and rape threats against the film's one female character (Katee Sackhoff), whose purpose here is to show some skin and occasionally punch out one of the men, delivering tough dialogue in the process.

After the bounty hunters spend about a quarter of the film deciding how to handle Riddick, they are attacked by those boring serpents from before, only there are about a thousand of them at this point. People and serpent alike are maimed and killed in grotesque ways.

There's very little to recommend here. When "Riddick" is not moving at a snail's pace, it's a sound and fury action movie that's only slightly more involving. Here is the year's most obligatory sequel. And yes, I do recall that "Grown Ups 2" was released this year.

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