So, quick question, how do you feel about watching Vin Diesel beat up and murder a bunch of guys and aliens for about two hours? Pro or con? If con, please just jump to next article. Okay. Just go ahead and move on.
Cool, so now that those nerds are gone the cool kids can talk about this newest entry in the low-grade epic that is the story surrounding the uncontested god of the space barbarian, Richard B. Riddick. The other movies in his cannon—Pitch Black, The Chronicles of Riddick, The Chronicles of Riddick: Dark Fury—establish his character pretty well and are all decent run ups to this movie which theoretically occurs after them. None of those movies are necessary to really understand this newest flick, however. Riddick gives you just enough context for its story, though truth be told calling what happens in the movie a real story is maybe ennobling it a little bit.
The movie is of intermittent quality throughout. It goes from really sweet (Riddick beating aliens to death with a bone folding blade sword of his own devising) to god awful (one of the merc groups just ragging on someone junior high style for claiming to be a lesbian). The general plot also ends up having some seriously direct correlations to the story of pitch black, almost to the point of being the same in a few places. Still, if what you’re there for is seeing Deisel beat folks up and maybe some boobs from time to time, you’ll probably enjoy yourself. Riddick is really just a good old fashion, beat’em-up B-movie. Of course, if you really want to dig, you can start to find some meat on its bones.
The whole film if you look hard enough is kind of a study of brutalism. Everything about the start of the movie speaks to this brutalism theme, from Riddick’s actions to the back ground and scenery. Riddick himself talks about a desire to return to his former more primal state. Everything about it is bones, sinew, and blood. Even the critters in the first part of the movie are part of this brutal theme, from a pack of wild dog-analogues to the terrifying bipedal scorpion-analogues. Its like 87 percent testicles by mass.
Then for a little bit it transitions to a strange Planet Earth style of film, with some pretty nice CGI vistas and wild life. This starts the theme of innocence or perhaps civility that serves to offset the brutalism. You can cut a significant portion of what happens and what is seen into the categories of the brutal/primal, and the for lack of a better term anti-brutal. Perhaps its civilization and discipline, whatever it is, it’s hard to directly define. And this duality and opposition is strong and useful and real … right up until the merc boss character named Santana opens his mouth. Almost every line of dialogue from that character turns into some junior high level discourse, and it really derails a lot of the movie and almost any kind of analysis or intellectual discourse you could possibly try to inject into the film.
Really, after the actions of Riddick in the film and Pitch Black, the only valid conclusion is the one reached by one of my friends I saw the movie with, and that is that Riddick is just an invasive and destructive species. In both movies he is introduced to an ecosystem and proceeds to just beat and kill the living and sometimes dead hell out of creatures who seem to have really only a very time specific life cycle, interrupting and possibly irreparably damaging what should likely be a huge reproduction phase for the species.
To just button this review up I must return to my beginning, if you like seeing vin diesel smack things, go see this. If that’s not your cup of tea (remember that time Riddick killed that dude with a tea cup in Chronicles of Riddick?) then don’t bother.