Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Riddick (2013)

The chronicles of Riddick continue where they left off from in the second film. I'm glad to say the powers that be have decided to get back to the roots of Riddick this time. The first film was a surprise hit and a decent alien monster survival clash. The second film then got too big for its own boots and went off the scale with over the top cheesy fantasy nonsense. This time we're back to survival mode with plenty of grit.

Now I will be brutally honest here, I'm gonna moan a lot about this film...starting right now. First off we see how Riddick was betrayed and dumped on this desolate planet, but why do that? he offered Vaako the position of Lord Marshall merely in exchange for being taken to his home world of Furya, so why the need to trick him?? just take him home and all is good. I must also ask how in the hell Riddick survived that cliff fall?! it was like...a gazillion feet high!

The planet this film is set on is a nice looking one if you ask me, very slick visuals in general but I really liked this planets design, it felt very real actually. Not too original in all fairness, your standard Tatooine type location but very realistically created. So Riddles is stuck on this planet, marooned, he manages to fix his leg which I can buy but then finds these mud pool/geyser/springs which do not contain drinkable water yet he submerges himself in one to escape some wild dog-like creatures. Isn't that kinda risky? god knows what that liquid could of done to him.

After much limping around Riddick finds some ruins (no explanation to what they are or who built them though) and he entombs himself for an unknown amount of time. Enough time for his leg to fix completely though...so that's a long time entombed without food or water, I'm confused. Once vampire Riddick emerges he eventually discovers there is more fertile land beyond these jagged rocks but he can't get there because of the mud pools and these scorpion things that live in them. There was no other way around this area? really?? no way at all!? Although I did like the way he uses his survival skills to gradually build his immunity against their poisonous sting, inoculation 101. Low and behold once around the rocky patch and into the nicer areas Riddick finds an outpost, always an outpost, he couldn't have landed on an uninhabited planet oh no, but I guess we wouldn't have our film then would we.

The film does feel very segregated, the first half is a really neat survival concept with Riddick and his new pet doggie creature. The middle part then changes into a more standard action setup when the rather gimmick riddled 'Alien Resurrection' mercs turn up spouting much cliched crap. Boy do they try too hard with these characters, they really want this guys to be memorable iconic sci-fi characters but it kinda fails really. The merc leader seems to be Peter Stormare's love child or a low rent version, Sackhoff really tries to have an air of uber coolness about her but gives it up all too easy when Riddick flirts with her, Batista is just another ex-wrestler to move into acting playing large meatheads and why cast Keri Hilson in that cameo?? What is this modern trend of casting pop singers and ex-wrestlers when real struggling actors are forever available and can actually act because that is their actual profession.

The last half of the film descents into familiar territory as an all to easy 'Aliens' clone, well who are we kidding it basically turns into 'Pitch Black'. The ever decreasing team fight against the odds as lots of those mud pool monsters come after them during a big rain storm. Thing is how did Riddick know this would happen? I don't think he experienced this beforehand and how come there are lots of mud pools all of a sudden? I thought we left those behind in the rocky region??

Don't get me wrong this section of the film is fun if somewhat predictable seeing as its a rehash. The problem with this film is the plot holes and lack of a coherent story. Riddick and Johns speed off to retrieve the power cell things for the ships (on those admittedly cool hover bikes) which appears to be some distance away. After some fisticuffs shenanigans and alien battles Johns and Riddick are forced to walk back! and they do it in half the time it took them to get there!

I guess what I'm saying is the film is very badly written and developed but it has some fantastic effects and lavish sci-fi porn. Most of the effects are CGI and you can tell, many shots are clearly live action against CGI backdrops but it still looks quite slick. The atmospheric colour palette, hover bikes, spaceships, creatures and realism of the planet are attractive to sci-fi geeks such as myself. They just let it all down with such mindless questions, errors and moments of complete ludicrousness like the death scene of one bad guy and a big knife. Oh and the sequence where the mercs all discuss opening a possible booby trapped locker by Riddick for nigh on six or seven minutes!!!! yep that's right, they stand around and talk it over for around that length.

Moan over and believe it or not I did like this film. Its silly sci-fi hokum with an array of cheese collected from various other sci-fi films (mainly its own franchise!) but it does work and it is a fun ride. Riddick is a likable lone wolf which helps a lot and its nice to see an adult orientated flick too. Its all essentially just about Riddick trying to get off world, that's it, not complicated, just needed to be a bit more original perhaps. I would have stuck with the lone survival aspect some more myself. And shame on you Twohy for giving us the old emotional pet death sequence, you know everybody chokes up on that stuff damn it! Awww poor alien dingo doggie-like thing, Riddick would have been cool with an alien pet for future adventures.