After a summer of failed sci-fi blockbusters like “Oblivion” and “After Earth” comes the modestly budgeted “Riddick,” a film that makes up for its lack of overwrought CGI with Diesel-powered charisma. The film reunites star Vin Diesel and filmmaker David Twohy after nine years apart following the underperforming “Chronicles of Riddick,” but where that film sought to expand the back story of Diesel’s Furyan mercenary, “Riddick” focuses on returning the character to his lean and mean roots last seen in 2000’s “Pitch Black.”
Critics agree that “Riddick” is a B-movie romp at best — but that’s not a bad thing. The film’s more outlandish elements — like Riddick’s pet “dingo-dongo” — may be a bit too much, but the movie’s rich supporting cast (including Katee Sackhoff, Dave Bautista and Karl Urban) and riveting opening act came as a pleasant surprise to most critics. Critics do seem to agree that Vin Diesel turns in a compelling performance light years removed from his “Fast & Furious” alter-ego Dom Toretto, and they praised the film’s accessibility — a rare feat for a third film.
Read on for a sample of “Riddick” reviews.
Off To A Great Start
“First things first, though — namely a terrific, mostly dialogue-free 20-minute opening during which Riddick acclimates to his new surroundings. Finally, writer-director David Twohy manages a sustained sense of space-operatic poetry that eluded him in the bombastic ’Chronicles’ and the series’ derivative first installment, ’Pitch Black’ (2000). Watching this see-in-the-dark muscleman brooding against gorgeous otherworldly vistas, all while crafting pointy homemade weapons and befriending a scene-stealing CGI canine (no joke), is a sci-fi aficionado’s delight.” — Keith Uhlich, Time Out
Sleeker Than Before
“That sets the stage for what is effectively a sleeker, more accomplished, but no less enjoyable ’Pitch Black’ remake, with rain substituted for darkness, and Riddick and his would-be captors once again forced to work together — or at least pretend to — if they want to make it off Not Furya alive. And if nothing in ’Riddick’ ever quite tops that opening act, when it seems as though the entire movie might be a solo Diesel performance piece, even at its most conventional this is a solid, unpretentious B-movie entertainment of the sort John Carpenter was regularly turning out in the 1980s and ’90s.” — Scott Foundas, Variety
Take Up A New Hobby
“If ’Riddick’ had managed to inject any thrills or pleasure or wit or excitement into what is a pure genre exercise, then its excesses and lapses could be easily overlooked. But this just isn’t any fun, when fun was all it ever had to be. Vin Diesel has found a perfect niche for himself in the increasingly delirious and entertaining ’Fast and the Furious’ series. If ’Riddick’ is the best he can come up with in his off-hours, both he and the audience would be better served if he took up macramé instead.” — Alonso Duralde, The Wrap
Better Than Wannabe Blockbusters
“More persuasively than the recent ’After Earth’ and ’Oblivion,’ ’Riddick’ makes an entertaining survival-guide virtue of its main character’s isolation. The side characters all get their share of profane zingers. The audience came away sated. In the 13 years since the first Riddick chronicle, Diesel has discovered what it means to be a certain kind of movie star, working hard but not too, serving material that, here, does what it’s supposed to do.” — Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune
Earns Its Geek Cred
“’Riddick’ marks Diesel’s third quest as his space cadet antihero, and with the help of series writer/director David Twohy, the star rolls a natural 20 for full nerd advantage. Diesel cashes in all of the ’Fast & Furious’ chips here, steering his passion franchise away from the mainstream with a hybrid of D&D adventuring, ’Pitch Black’-style close quarters mayhem, and a dash of ’Heavy Metal’ for spice. Dan O’Bannon’s grungy, low-budget nightmares run amok in ’Riddick,’ which never settles on a single story to tell while still stuffing a great deal of fun down our throats.” — Matt Patches, Film.com
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