It's time to
fill up your tanks with Diesel!
Oh yeah. What? What's that? Not catchy
enough for you? Hmmm? All right, then, the Masked Reviewer
will give it another go. This is a movie that screams out for a
catchy title for it's review.
Riddick's Critics Must Be Cynics!
Yeah! How about that? Hmm? Hmmm?
Perhaps you'd prefer a headline that pays tribute to former President
Vin One for the Gipper!
See that? The Masked Reviewer can be topical and
timely, too. Reagan was an actor, to boot. See how
everything ties together?
Anyway, it's time for the review. The
Chronicles of Riddick isn't (aren't?) exactly a sequel, but more of
a continuation of the character Vin Diesel portrayed in the Y2K
Pitch Black. There are a few characters brought back from
that movie, but basically it's an entirely new story!
Well...not entirely new.
Did you ever see Solo with Mario Van Peebles?
How about Soldier with Kurt Russell? An enhanced tough guy
takes on an overwhelming army. That's the gist of Riddick.
Is it a good sign that the Masked Reviewer is comparing this movie to
those ones? Not really. It also has elements lifted from
Fortress (with Christopher Lambert), Stargate (again with
Kurt Russell), and Battlefield Earth (with John Travolta).
At least it has almost nothing in common with Tango and Cash
(another Kurt Russell vehicle), which in turn has absolutely nothing in
common with The Last Tango in Paris (with Marlon Brando).
Riddick also seems to borrow its level of scientific accuracy
from The Day After Tomorrow.
There is a lot of great sci-fi to rip-off, but for some
reason filmmaker David Twohy decided to use mediocrity as his guide.
And, he has done a fine job creating a film that's perfectly
You already know the acting is bad. How? Vin
Diesel stars! Now, it would be very hard to say anything bad about
Vin Diesel...if he were standing right next to you. He's huge and
scary! But, he isn't standing next to you, so say anything you
want about him. Go on! When's the last time you heard him
deliver a line convincingly? Hmm? He sounds like a bad actor
trying to act like a bad actor reading a line unconvincingly. But
hey, it's not about the acting.
Did the Masked Reviewer mention that Dame Judy Dench is
in this film? She must have bills to pay. There's something
that's much more depressing about seeing older, dignified British actors
in goofy crappy movies than there is about seeing anyone else in the
same goofy, crappy movies. Maybe it's because they're British, and
therefore we assume they really are dignified. Take the
lowest-class, rudest, crudest British guy and put him in an American
movie as the know-it-all erudite or stuffy agency head, and he'll be
utterly convincing. It's the accent.
Judy Dench is fine, though thankfully (for her career) not used much.
Thandine Newton (no relation to Fig), who you may remember as the hot
babe from Mission Impossible II: Mission Impossibler, has
a fairly small role that seems like it had a lot more meat to it.
We don't get to see enough of her, if you know what the Masked Reviewer
means (the Masked Reviewer means she doesn't appear nude in the film).
Also starring is Karl Urban, who you may remember from the last two
Lord of the Rings movies (he's an actor from New Zealand, so you
know he'd be in them) as well as as Caesar from "Xena" (also shot in New
Zealand, so you know he'd be in that too). Rounding out the cast
is Alexa Davalos who can best be characterized in one word:
AWOOOOOOOOOOGA! Yikes. Even covered in dirt, sweat, and
filth, she looks great. She previously appeared in the TV show
"Angel" (not shot in New Zealand), and she's stunning. She's also
arguably the most compelling actor on screen for the entire film, and
isn't seen nearly enough (no, no nudity).
The action is fine. The film focuses on
hand-to-hand battles, even though the story is about interplanetary
conquest. The fights are well done, some combining elaborate
special effects to good effect. It's a lot of stealthy stuff,
because that Riddick is a sneaky guy, and that's a bit different from
the norm. Some of the larger battle scenes get confusing, with too
many things happening at once. Was that a good guy? Who just
blew up? Who's winning?
The special effects are solid. You won't see
anything new and exciting, but the visuals are well done, for the most
part. The star fields as they fly around in space are quite nice
(empty black space is so boring). Concussion effects from
alien weapons are interesting, if not over-used, and even the shots with
Riddick's special vision are kind of cool. The best part about the
special effects, though, is that they used a big part of their $125
million budget on cool sets, props, and wardrobes. They created a
world with an identifiable (albeit familiar) look, and they add
tremendously to the visuals.
It's not great. It's not even good. It's
passable, if you love sci-fi. If you love Vin Diesel, you'll find
this to be very much in line with his usual quality of work. For
the rest of us, it's a two hour movie that has some entertainment value,
but not much. If you liked Fortress, Stargate, Soldier, Solo,
Waterworld on some level, then you'll like this on some level too.
It could've been much worse, and it does squeeze out some enjoyable
moments. It's so-so. Stay tuned for the next sequel, which
features Riddick on the penal colony Yukkityyuk Prime as a stand-up
comic...it'll be called Riddickulous.
Expectation from the Title: The life and times of a former
heavyweight boxing champ. Alternate title was Mr. Bo Punches
Mother's Rule (Always Say Something Good About Everything):
Vin Diesel has pretty silver eyes.
The Pros: Decent fight scenes, nice production values, okay
The Cons: Acting, story, science, all sub-par, but not
horrible. It's an average sci-fi film, which is to say, a
below-average regular film. No nudity.