Riddick Blu Ray Review

Riddick is back for a third outing, and it’s back to basics for him. Gone is the costumed action epic that was a horrible failure at the box office ala it PG-13 sequel The Chronicles of Riddick. It’s back to the beginning and using Pitch Black as a model. Riddick’s character has been stripped back down to the R-rated essence of old, the anti-hero that made everyone take notice. But whereas Pitch Black took slow pains to build up the characters mystique and badassery, Riddick assumes the view has been along for the entire ride.

Years after The Chronicles of Riddick, Riddick (Vin Diesel) falls from grace at the hands of Necromonger Vaako (Karl Urban). Left for dead on a barren waste land, Riddick must put himself and his broken leg back together.  Riddick, and an odd alien dog he raises and trains come across an abandoned outpost. Knowing he has to get off the rock, Riddick activates the emergency beacon. Since there’s still a price on his head, two crews of bounty hunters come running in no time at all.

The first group on the scene is the bloodthirsty group in it for the money, lead by Santana (Jordi Mollà). The rag tag group of Mercenaries finds themselves at odds with Boss Johns’ (Matt Nable) group who has come looking for Riddick for more personal reasons. Riddick, of course, has no plans parting with his head and gives both groups plenty of problems tracking him down. Riddick soon becomes the smallest threat, and the groups have to band together with their target against a vicious alien attack to survive.

Sound like Pitch Black yet? It does run many parallels with the first film, but fails to find its heart. Riddick decides early on in the film to go back to his animal self, during the tedious opening, but what made Riddick a character you could really root for was the glimpses of humanity beneath the animal. Those shining moments of selfless bravery that made you think he could be redeemed are gone. Sure he’s always been capable of incredible violence, and sure he has some cool eyes that allow him to see in the dark, but some of the stand out moments from Pitch Black came when he was protecting young Jackie. That protective streak carried over to The Chronicles of Riddick, but maybe nine years between films is too long to remember who Riddick was, because here it’s all but vanished. Besides his love for his pooch, he’s more thug spouting out rape threats than preventing them, and not even some great action sequences can wipe that flaw from your mind.

Mollà’s Santana brings a scummy sleaze to Santana, acting like he’s the smartest guy in the room while events prove he’s anything but. The character is mostly used for tension breaking laughs, or intense standoff moments. Mollà is definitely the character you love to hate. Nable’s Boss Johns, is far less memorable, despite the character having a strong emotional tie back to Pitch Black. The other team members fare no better; even with the oversized presence of WWE star Dave Bautista, they’re simply pawns to be knocked over one by one.

The only other character of note is Katee Sackhoff’s Dahl, but not for the reasons that she should be. Her Dahl is similar to her take on her Battlestar Galactica character. She’s tough, smart yet vulnerable, but here those characteristics come off as more gimmick, especially when she’s the subject of topless shower-scene objectification, the target of rape threats, or when Riddick’s caveman attitude somehow wins her over. The strong heroine becomes more act than fact, which is disappointing.

The film does have some great moments though. Between bloody battles and Alien hordes there’s plenty of good action, which fans of the series will enjoy, but character failings which set the tone for the film certainly isn’t going to attract newcomers.

The director’s cut fills in some blanks that the theatrical cuts glosses over, as well as some really good camera work and special effects. It also gives an extended ending which felt more complete. The blu ray also features featurettes: The World of Riddick, Riddickian Tech, The Twohy touch, Vin’s Riddick, Meet the Mercs and Riddick: Blindsided.

Riddick will arrive on Blu-Ray and DVD January 14


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