The anti-hero with the amazing eyes is back, after being marooned on a planet by the Necromongers, to face hostile aliens, bounty hunters and mercenaries!
I am of course a fangirl among many who have that thing for Vin Diesel (it doesn’t help that he’s reportedly a huge Geek in RL, either), and, therefore, would see almost anything he’d put out, just on general principle. There’s this little movie called Boiler Room out there that features not only Vin as a stock broker, but has some seriously awesome Glengarry Glen Ross-style ranting from a rather young Ben Affleck too.
This long-awaited Riddick sequel has met with mixed reviews, which makes sense, because the film itself is a mixed bag of “let’s try and please a little of everyone.” The best parts of the first Riddick romp, Pitch Black, showcase his hunting and mad survival skillz, issues with mercs and, well, the rest of humanity in general, and give him a start to a backstory. Somehow, the simple expedient of some well-chosen contacts and rippling muscles, plus a damn fine director with a literal eye for action shots, gave us an opening movie that is a legend now.
Next came Dark Fury, which is a cartoon bridge between Pitch Black and Chronicles of Riddick, with of course Vin as the voice and likeness of Riddick himself. The cartoon film was made by the same guy who made the Aeon Flux cartoons that used to be on MTV — and that means I personally enjoyed it — following Jack and Riddick after the events of the first film. They get captured by a crazed bounty hunter with a rather unique method of displaying her trophies.
Then came the highly anticipated (and let’s face it, controversial) sequel, The Chronicles of Riddick, wherein our scary-eyed pal goes on an actual rescue mission and gets involved with death-obsessed psychos called Necromongers. Who is he rescuing? Why, a grown-up, obviously female, and much-hotter Jack, which gives us continuity, sort of. We’re also (for those of us paying attention to plot) introduced to the idea that Riddick is of a dying race called Furians, all of whom seem to come equipped with the ability to Tasmanian-devil-frenzy an enemy. These Necromongers make for some seriously savage and terrible enemies that Riddick’s fighting, and it all culminates in a “you keep what you kill” Conan-feels-the-weight-of-the-crown kind of deal. We were all waiting to see what the brand new Lord Marshal of the Necromongers will do in the next movie, and hoping Karl Urban will be there too! Right? Well…
So we begin with Riddick himself narrating the film as he explains that he was stranded on a planet that was supposed to be Furia, his homeworld. Never trust a Necromonger. Even as King, in theory, of his own army there, Riddick still can’t stand the lap of Necromonger luxury, and yearns for home. So Vaako, Karl Urban’s character from Chronicles, decides to aid Riddick and send him in a ship back to his home planet, all explained in minute flashbacks. It seems as though this film has Vaako as a much more understanding, if not nice guy, and he genuinely meant to send Riddick home while Vaako ruled as Lord Marshal in his place, of course.
Alas, Necromonger minions are always looking for a leg-up, and Riddick gets dropped on some planet with these seriously scary alien water monsters. Survival is what Riddick does best, so he gets busy learning the lay of the land, making weapons, and generally being the badass Riddick we all know and love. He even takes a damn pet. But eventually we need to get outta here, and the fastest way to do that is to ping the bounty still out on Riddick’s head (dead gets the mercs more money now), and try to swipe the ship of the mercenaries that do come.
The first group of mercs who come, yes they may be huge and have muscles on their muscles and spiffy weapons, but Riddick can and does practically eat them for lunch. But then more bounty hunters show up, and these guys are at least professionals, with their matching uniforms, airbikes and better weapons. Of course, none of that will stop Riddick, or even slow him down really, and when he realizes the planet is about to pull a Pitch Black-style hostile alien takeover, Riddick does the unthinkable and offers to work together for survival so everyone has a chance of getting off this death rock.
And yes, Katee Sackhoff’s purportedly lesbian bounty hunter Dahl is fun to watch, and so is Matt Nable as Boss Johns, who happens to connect Riddick to the first movie in a meaningful way. But that is only if you happen to be paying attention to plot and attempting to connect all the movies.
I know Diesel ponied up his own money in order to make sure this film got made. And at least some of the lines he used in Riddick, “I’m gonna drive it like I stole it” and such are just ripoffs of Vin’s other movies, but hell! If you’re not fan-squeeing about Diesel’s rippling muscles and badassdom, what are you doing watching these movies anyway?