Vin Diesel is back in a form which is not at all unfamiliar to his fans, for he is Riddick once again, the intergalactic nocturnal criminal of the worst kind. This movie, just like that well known quote “Government of the people, by the people, for the people” is a “film of Vin Diesel, by Vin Diesel, for Vin Diesel”, but that would decrease the scope by a long margin. So, this is a movie for Vin Diesel fans, lovers of Alien sci-fi horror, those not disturbed by violence, and the ones who can wait for some action sequences despite of an initial drag. Yes, it is a huge improvement over its predecessor, The Chronicles of Riddick and a sight improvement over Pitch Black, the first movie of the franchise. But then, questions shall arise, if this was actually needed; is it just made to create another movie in the series, or is it a pre-matured release of something which could have been far better. The movie keeps the questions active, as it progresses in an attempt to re-create the impact of Pitch Black and make it better. Radha Mitchell was quite unsuitable for that movie and she didn’t bend in like she could in Silent Hill, but in this movie, we also have a better and a more suitable female lead, about whom we shall discuss later.
So, the story follows where the second movie of the series, The Chronicles of Riddick had left the plot. Richard B. Riddick (Vin Diesel), the new Lord Marshall of the Necromongers was fed up with his new life and wanted to return to his homeworld of Furya for which he makes a deal with Commander Vaako (Karl Urban); to get to him to his home planet with Vaako being given the throne in return for the service. Riddick and a group of Necromongers go to a planet which he identifies as not Furya, but is trapped under rubble after the ledge on which he stood is destroyed by one of them and he fell to his doom as they guessed. But Riddick survives, as he gets up from underneath the dust and even manages to thrive, after defeating dog-like alien creatures and getting away from scorpion-like aliens. He becomes a Robinson Crusoe of another planet, living life on his own terms. He catches and trains one of the dog-like creatures and with it, crosses the water which had the scorpion-like things, killing two of them in the process, reaching grasslands from the devastated area he was caught in.
As the next phase of his life begins in the grasslands, he locates an abandoned communication station, and as the final and the only possible attempt to get out of the planet, he activates the station’s emergency beacon which identifies him and sends his photos and bounty details all over the universe. The beacon is answered by two ships, one led by a man named Santana (Jordi Mollà), and another led by another man named Boss Johns (Matt Nable). As the first team seems to be full of bounty hunters, the second seems to be of hunters of another type. They don’t seem to get along at all, as Santana and Johns’ second-in-command Dahl (Katee Sackhoff) gets in serious confrontations, and the presence of a second group of hunters is not entertained by the first group, as they were there first and wanted to claim all the bounty for Riddick’s head. Riddick sends them a message to leave one of the ships and go back to their world if they don’t wish to be killed, which they ignore. Three of Santana’s men are killed in the first night itself, courtesy the intergalactic murderer, his pet alien dog and his traps.
The next phase of his time on the planet begins as he manages to steal a power core from each ship which would destroy the ship’s balance and its ability to traverse as it is supposed to. He then approaches Johns and Santana to work out a deal, the same thing concerning leaving a ship behind for him. But it doesn’t work out as he might have wanted, as Santana kills his pet alien dog and their sniper Dahl takes him down with strong tranquilizers. He is chained as Santana keeps asking for his head in a cage. But when the nightmare creatures of the planet, the highly evolved and lethal aliens, arrive in another black moonless night, to save themselves from the pitch black creatures, they are forced to unleash Riddick. He has the power cores, he can see at night and he is one of the most lethal convicts ever, and there was no other choice for sure. But the question remains if he shall be their saviour or their destroyer, as the first thing he does is to cut off Santana’s head, something which he was planning to do to Riddick. He is lethal, no doubt about that, and will he stick to his word? And will the hunters stick to their word after evading the creatures and getting the ship ready to escape?
Yes, this is Vin Diesel’s movie. How often do you have the same lone leading character in a movie which released nine years after the earlier movie in the franchise? There is nothing in the story that doesn’t concern Riddick – the whole thing is about him, as how good is his survival skills, how well he can adapt, and most of all, how well he can kill. Vin Diesel is once again the perfect Riddick, but slightly lesser in aggression compared to what he was in the previous titles. Just like The Fast and the Furious banks on him, and XXX will bank on him again sooner or later, this movie depends upon the man to get itself working, and to give the franchise that life which he gave to that one dying franchise with Fast Five and Fast & Furious 6. There is no doubt that this will survive due to him, and might even produce sequels, but how much of a success this would be is still a question. I would guess that some moderate success will be in store, but a sequel would do better both critically and also in the box-office. Dominic Toretto, Xander Cage and Richard B. Riddick, these three will be the names with which Diesel shall always be remembered, and this was that golden opportunity to keep Riddick high over the others, but even as he has done nothing wrong, this character would remain second in the Vin Diesel world.
Karl Urban as Vaako has just a small presence, but we can hope for more from him in a possible sequel. Dave Bautista, better known as Batista, The Animal and The Leviathan for the WWE fans also makes an impact as one of the bounty hunters, as he goes on battle with our own anti-hero, but gets killed unlike how the other former WWE and World Heavyweight Champion Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson who jointed Diesel’s character in his most popular franchise. He provides the extra muscle for the movie. Matt Nable as Boss Johns has done a neat job, as the man who has a lot more reasons other than a bounty to come and search for the wanted convict. His character is just the opposite of Jordi Mollà’s Santana, the former matured and showing his experience while the latter showing his greed, ego and recklessness. Both of them has done their characters quite a lot of justice for sure, and the latter upto that extent that the man became extremely annoying. They are all bounty hunters or mercenaries in one way or the another. Katee Sackhoff makes a powerful performance as Dahl, and as she herself is said to have told in an interview that it is one of the toughest characters she has ever played. She is the dazzling badass girl who can play Power Girl or Wonder Woman someday. She is depicted as one of the strongest and able to give away heavyweight punches along with gunshots of extreme accuracy.
Talking more of the Katee Sackhoff character’s strength and durability is certain as she often reminds us of Sigourney Weaver’s Ellen Ripley, and talking about Alien, the creatures of this movie are not so different from those, except for the fact that they don’t come out of the chests, but rather go through it. The creature imagery formed by the CGI is quite superb. They are still not as frightening as expected, but they keep their level. The one thing about the world is that it is heavily detailed, and one can find so much in the environment, which embraces the beauty of another world perfectly. There is darkness which generates alienation and fear, and the shot of Riddick fighting massive number of aliens on a slope with lightning and rain in the background, is a shot worth remembering, and there are some lesser shots of style when he walks on the scorched areas of the planet much earlier and later as he moves around in he grasslands. There is horror for sure, and there is action with lots of blood and gore, but the question remains if this is John Carter’s Die Hard, as this is more like what Bruce Willis might have done in Mars to save the day, not denying the fact that Riddick is one of his kind. Did Riddick say “I’ll be back” in any of the earlier movies, if not, he has surely meant to say it and make it happen with this movie, and my only hope is that they can actually have a good plot and progress of the story next time rather than thinking like Pitch Black again.
Release date: 6th September 2013
Running time: 118 minutes
Directed by: David Twohy
Starring: Vin Diesel, Katee Sackhoff, Jordi Mollà, Matt Nable, Dave Bautista, Bokeem Woodbine, Raoul Trujillo, Karl Urban, Conrad Pla, Danny Blanco Hall, Noah Danby, Neil Napier, Nolan Gerard Funk, Alex Branson, Andreas Apergis, Keri Hilson
@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.