SS210’s Blu-ray/DVD Review: ‘Riddick’

reviews-coffeeWhere to begin. I want to apologize for getting this review up three days after its release. I needed to watch it a second time without the excitement of waiting nine years to finally watch a new Riddick film since its last theatrical release.

For the record, I love Vin Diesel and his Riddick franchise. I love the Riddick universe too in a “futuristic, space, and mad max style” kind of way. My first introduction to Riddick was not the original Pitch Black film, but the sequel The Chronicles of Riddick and its prequel the Escape From Butcher Bay Xbox video game. Loved them both!
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Being a fan of science fiction and gritty action, how could I not? I loved the story behind the making of this third installment. During the filming of The Fast n Furious: Tokyo Drift, Diesel agreed to make a cameo if the studio would give him all the rights to the Riddick franchise.

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During the production, Diesel had to mortgage his home just to finish the film.”I had to leverage my house,” Diesel said. “If we didn’t finish the film, I would be homeless.” We don’t hear many tales of heart and commitment from stars in Hollywood these days. I really tip my hat off to Vin Diesel for his love of the character and its universe of bounty hunters and mercenaries. I absolutely loved Riddick‘s latest adventure too…all the way up until the last-minute, but don’t let that overshadow the film’s brilliant first 117 minutes.

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When we last saw Riddick in The Chronicles of Riddick, he was the new Lord Marshall of the Necromongers. To my surprise, the new film story line pretty much picks up right there. Some time has passed by and Riddick has grown tiresome of life as the Lord Marshall…and it seems the Necromongers have grown tired of him as well.

After a sexy assassination attempt, Riddick is presented with the tease of finding his lost home world, Furya, by the scheming Commander Vaako (Karl Urban). Which, surprise, surprise, turns out to be another assassination attempt by leaving Riddick stranded on pretty much the worst planet in the universe.

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I don’t think even Rambo would last five minutes on this hell-hole planet. Wounded and pissed, Riddick begins his journey of surviving “Mud Demons”-trust me, they are indeed scary and packs of aliens wolf packs on his way to luring not one, but two bounty hunter ships in trying to escape the planet to get his revenge on the Necromongers and hopefully find his lost home world.

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This isn’t a fast paced action flick like the films earlier entry in the series. The beginning twenty minutes almost gives the viewer a twisted “Tom Hanks’ Cast Away” vibe of survival on hell island. The film feels more like a side step/detour in the overall Riddick saga than a true action blockbuster sequel. Not to say that it’s a bad thing, it’s actually a nice, classic Riddick tale. All the way to the climatic ending of not just battling bounty hunters, but the creepy Mud Demons as well.

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Even the film’s main villain, Santana (Jordi Molla) delivers a classic scum bag bounty hunter in the Riddick universe. The dialogue is just as cheesy as the first two films, but that is part of the charm of the Riddick franchise. I really enjoyed this flick…all the way to the final minute that is when the credits roll and you look to the person next to you in silence with a “is that really the ending” look on your face.

You won’t find many mention of past characters, except for a few. One that actually play’s an interesting twist with one of the bounty hunters. As usual, I don’t like to spoil anything so forgive me for not going into much detail on this road. If you’re a fan of the series, I am sure you will have a nice smile on your face once these characters are revealed. My main concern with this film was not the movie itself, but the ending. Let’s face facts, for a sequel that took nine years to get produced and mortgaged homes to release into theatres…the idea of a cliffhanger to conclude the main story line left a big void in me once the credits hit

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We were lucky go to a third installment so I can only imagine how long we will have to wait for another story to give some closure in the series, if at all. Cliffhangers are great when we are guaranteed a follow-up within a few years, say like, Lord Of The Rings. Not with a film franchise that may or may not give fans a follow-up. After giving the film a second viewing, I have come to appreciate the film for what it is, and not what it wasn’t and that is a classic and entertaining Riddick tale to hopefully keep us hungering for more until the next sequel.

This is a very dark movie, and I don’t mean “dark” as in rated R, but dark as in thank God I am watching this in HD so I can see what is happening. It’s not a bad-looking Blu-ray, just not amazing either. Special Features are nothing to excite and rip the package wrapping off to pop in your Blu-ray/DVD player, but they aren’t a snooze fest either. They include among the usual deleted scenes,Feature Commentary with Writer-Director David Twohy and Actors Karl Urban and Alexa Davalos, “Riddick Rises“, and “Keep What You Kill“.

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I suspect most viewers will be divided between hating this movie for it’s ending, being entertained by its first 117 minutes, or loving it for being a die-hard Riddick fan. Personally loved it, hated it, and at the end of my journey simply appreciated it for allowing me to come back to the Riddick universe for another classic horror/action tale.

I give Riddick a solid 2 1/2 out of 4 throwing stars!

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