MRR Review: "Riddick"

Photo Credit: Universal Pictures

MRR Review: "Riddick"

Rating: R (strong violence, language, and some sexual content/nudity)
Length: 119 minutes
Release Date: Sept. 6, 2013
Directed by: David Twohy
Genre: Action/Sci-Fi/Thriller

From writer and director David Twohy and screenwriters Oliver Butcher and Stephen Cornwell comes the third installment of the critically acclaimed "The Chronicles of Riddick" film series. The first two movies of the series—"Pitch Black," which premiered in 2000, and "The Chronicles of Riddick," which premiered in 2004—received positive reviews from critics and moviegoers alike.

In this latest sequel, premiering almost a whole decade after its predecessor, Riddick finds himself betrayed and once again stranded on a remote desert planet. With his home world of Furya in imminent peril and a terrible desert storm approaching, Riddick must find his way off the seemingly lifeless, dune-filled planet before it's too late.

He only has one way to do that, however, and it's nearly suicidal: he must activate an emergency beacon that will inevitably attract the attention of ships full of dangerous mercenaries who are all too eager to try to cash in on the doubled bounty for Riddick's head. Soon, Riddick discovers that the world he once thought was deserted is teeming with alien predators ready to bite off his limbs if given the chance, as well as a group of lethal mercenaries led by a Captain Santana, who has a more personal motive for catching him.

Does "Riddick" live up to the high expectations its previous two installments gave us, or does it fall short of its legacy?

In some ways, the 2013 film surpasses the highest expectations; in others, sadly, it doesn't. It is sure to please fans of the series with its high-octane science-fiction action. Beloved action hero Vin Diesel, perhaps best known for his lead role in most of the "Fast and the Furious" series' films, returns as both the producer and the title character of the movie. His performance, as always, is convincingly gritty and strong throughout the film as his character becomes more powerful than ever before. Expect some of the series' most intense explosion-filled, laser-gun-slinging action sequences as Riddick does battle with dangerous aliens and fierce bounty hunters all out for his head.

Other strong performances come from longtime actor Jordi Molla, the talented Katee Sackhoff, and returning New Zealand star Karl Urban, who's known for his many sci-fi roles, including that of Leonard "Bones" McCoy in recent Star Trek films. Jordi Molla, famous for playing the main antagonist in other action films such as "Knight and Day" in 2010 and "Bad Boys II" in 2003, delivers a strong performance as arrogant Captain Santana, leader of the main eight-man group of mercenaries tasked with ensuring Riddick's demise. Katee Sackhoff, best known for her roles in the sci-fi TV series "Battlestar Galactica" and its TV movie "Battlestar Galactica: Razor" as well as her voice-acting roles in a multitude of comic-book TV series and video games, plays lesbian Nordic bounty hunter Dahl, who's known for her excellent sharpshooting skills and her short temper. Karl Urban returns as his character from the previous film in the series: Lord Vaako, the young and loyal commander of the Necromonger Empire.

Cinematography has also improved this time around as director David Twohy, like a fine wine, only gets better with age. The scenery and special effects are fairly impressive, though many of the film's backgrounds offer little more to look at than rock and sand, and the action scenes are heart-pumpingly good. The dialogue, like in many action films, is subpar at best and only serves to give you a chance to breath between explosions. "Riddick" does have an overarching story, and it will likely keep you watching until the end, but it's nothing new or particularly exciting. At least, it's not as captivating as Riddick's origin story, which hit theatres in 2000.

Does the good outweigh the bad? Unfortunately, "Riddick" goes the way of the final films in many other trilogies and on balance falls short of its predecessors. In this case, the good and bad weigh in pretty evenly, with the scale tipping slightly in favor of the good. It may not be its overall better 2000 counterpart, but if you're already a fan of the series or just want some good, mindless action, it's definitely worth it to grab a bag of popcorn and watch "Riddick."

Rating: 3 out of 5