REVIEW: RIDDICK

CAST

Vin Diesel (XXX)
Jordi Molla (Blow)
Matt Nable (Arrow)
Katee Sackhoff (Battlestar Galactica)
Dave Bautista (Guardians of The Galaxy)
Bokeem Woodbine (Total Recall)
Raoul Trujillo (Highlander 3)
Karl Urban (Dredd)
Noah Danby (Painkiller Jane)
Nolan Gerard Funk (Smallville)

Several years after the events in Chronicles, Riddick has grown bored with leading the Necromonger fleet. Riddick hasn’t adopted most Necromonger customs, angering Commander Vaako (Karl Urban), who agrees to transport Riddick to lost planet Furya if he gives up his position as Lord Marshall. Vaako’s aide, Krone (Andreas Apergis), betrays Riddick and leaves him to die on a barren, sunbaked planet that Riddick dubs “Not Furya.” Out of practice and overly civilized, Riddick must quickly regain his survivalist instinct as the planet is host to a number of hostile creatures. He adopts an abandoned jackal pup that becomes his trusty sidekick and sets out to find a way off the surface. When Riddick stumbles into a mercenary outpost, he activates an emergency beacon that attracts two groups of bounty hunters hoping to collect on Riddick’s head.The first third of Riddick is largely dialogue-free and sees Riddick and the jackal adapting to the landscape and hidden dangers of the unnamed planet. There are plenty of venomous mud creatures and alien vultures waiting for a meal, and Riddick must pass through a dangerous cave environment to reach a less dangerous area of the planet. There’s fun to be had watching Riddick and the pup cut down these voiceless alien antagonists, and the filmmakers play the man-and-his-dog relationship perfectly. The jackal is impressively rendered via CGI and there are some solid bits of action and humor that follow. Things slow to a grind when Riddick activates the beacon, and he spends a good thirty minutes off screen while the hunters take center stage.The first group to arrive is a ragtag band of killers led by unhinged Santana (Jordi Molla), who is furious when a more professional outfit, led by Boss Johns (Matthew Nable), lands at his camp. Riddick quickly pits the two groups against one another, and Santana realizes that Riddick intends to use one of their ships as his taxi out of there. Riddick turns into a largely unseen puppet master during this section and drops the relatively docile attitude from earlier scenes as he picks off Santana’s men.Riddick has some great supporting  characters with real personality including the fierce female warrior Dahl (Katee Sackhoff). Viewers know from an earlier scene that a dangerous storm is coming to awaken the planet’s dormant native creatures Riddick knows shit is about to hit the fan. Things pick up considerably at the climax, when Riddick and company must fight to survive the Pitch Black-esque killers that roam the night. As a whole, Riddick is decently entertaining. The creatures are fierce if somewhat generic, and the action is great.  Riddick further explores the mythology hinted at in previous films, and the Director’s Cut adds a somewhat confusing cliffhanger that hints at future events.

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REVIEW: THE CHRONICLES OF RIDDICK

CAST

Vin Diesel (XXX)
Colm Feore (Thor)
Thandie Newton (Crash)
Judi Dench (Skyfall)
Karl Urban (Dredd)
Alexa Davalos (Clash of The Titans)
Linus Roache (Batman Begins)
Keith David (The Cape)
Nick Chinlund (Training Day)
Mark Gibbon (Robin Hood Beyond Sherwood)
Terry Chen (Bates Motel)
Christina Cox (Stargate SG.1)
Peter Williams (Catwoman)
Christopher Heyerdahl (Sanctuary)

The film opens years after the first film, once again introducing us to Riddick (Vin Diesel), who is once again on the run from bounty hunters. After escaping from his latest pursuers, he finds his way back to Inam (Keith David), who – with an air elemental (Judi Dench) – convince Riddick that he is the only one that can save their planet (and others) from the Necromongers, a race of war-happy individuals who are laying waste to one planet after another and claiming them as their own, assimilating whoever accepts and destroying who doesn’t. Lead by the Lord Marshal (Colm Feore), they are seeking out the utopian Underverse.

Riddick is there as the planet is assaulted, but isn’t able to do much, as he’s quickly outnumbered and outgunned. However, when he’s captured by the Necromongers, he figures a way to escape in the middle of a process that scans his thoughts. He then flies off to the prison planet Crematoria to seek out Jack, a girl from the original, who now goes by Kyra (Alexa Davalos). Once the two meet up again, they have to escape from Crematoria, which manages a toasty 700 degrees in the daylight. Meanwhile, Lady Vaako (Thandie Newton) and Lord Vaako (Karl Urban) are dispatched to persue Riddick, as the Lord Marshal has other plans for him.

While flawed, Riddick is certainly ambitious. The production design is nothing short of spectacular, and the visual style is an explosion of what the first film offered – I especially liked the opening, where Riddick seems to be running across the tops of a maze that stretches out to the horizon. Costume design is superb, while the film’s visual effects are not seamless, but still very strong. Overall, the creation of this universe”the film exists in is first-rate.

Chronicles of Riddick offers some pretty good performances. Few growl out one-liners better than Diesel; while there’s not a lot of depth to the performance, it’s an interesting character that I don’t think any other actor would be as right for as Diesel is. Supporting performances by Newton, Dench, Fiore and others are also enjoyable. Overall, the film is a fine attempt to take the character into an epic that operates on a much grander scale than the first film.

REVIEW: DARK FURY

 

CAST (VOICES)

Vin Diesel (XXX)
Rhiana Griffith (Home and Away)
Keith David (The Cape)
Roger Jackson (Scream)
Tress MacNeille (Futurama)
Nick Chinlund (Training Day)
Dwight Schultz (The A-Team)

Starting immediately after Pitch Black ends, this animated show tells what happens to the survivors immediately after they left the planet they were stranded on.  It turns out that their little space ship runs out of energy and is picked up by a mercenary ship run by Madam Chillingsworth, a strange lady who collects mass murderers.  She cryogenically freezes them so they are still alive, and then poses them as living statues.  She has quite a collection but there is room for more.

Her mercenaries quickly determine who Riddick is, and after a quick fight he is captured.  She then puts him in an arena and forces him to fight for his life, and the lives of his two companions.   But even if Riddick survives, there is still a ship full of mercenaries between him and freedom.

I’m not into Anime, personally, so I had to devote some extra concentration to this in order to glean the story from it.  I can, however, attest to the quality of the story, which was excellent.

REVIEW: PITCH BLACK

 

CAST

Vin Diesel (XXX)
Radha Mitchell (Man on Fire)
Cole Hauser (2 Fast 2 Furious)
Keith David (The Cape)
Claudia Black (The Originals)
Rhiana Griffith (Home and Away)
Firass Dirani (Power Rangers Mystic Force)

The film starts off as many sci-fi films do, with a crash-landing. Rocks hit the ship and fly through, taking out some of the passengers and sending the ship spiraling towards an unknown planet. Fry(Rhada Mitchell) takes over the group, and there are others who are left, including a criminal named Riddick(Vin Diesel) who happens to be able to see in the dark.

The planet has three suns, so at one point or another, there always seems to be daylight, which comes in different colors that the film takes on(much of the early part of the film is bathed in striking blues, for example). Only there’s one problem – every so often, there’s a rare occurence where an eclipse sends the planet into total darkness. And at that time, the aliens who only come out to play in the rare darkness attack. Much of the early half of the film revolves around Riddick – tracking him down and getting him to help, but the second half of the film starts the action a little quicker.

The aliens are always seemingly circling the group, and although the special effects for the film are not terribly great, they aren’t distracting, either. The movie starts up the tension very well during the second half of the picture, and is successful in not letting go till the end.


Pitch Black works simply as an entertaining low budget Sci-Fi Movie.