Movie Review: Riddick is good popcorn action’s Oliver Heath embraces wraparound sunglasses and some wooden one-liners:

When I heard I was going to review a sci-fi film called ‘Redic’, it totes conjured images of future space-hipsters and their eternal quest for a hoverboard. I was close, it was hoverbikes not boards. My bad, the film was actually called ‘Riddick’, and was the third big screen instalment of the Vin Diesel Chronicles of Riddick franchise. I had a really good time, but I even liked that John Carter flop and Lynch’s Dune so I’m clearly a sucker for space adventure.

The first in this trilogy was Pitch Black. At the time I was impressed by the thrifty way they put a sci-fi feature together and by the unlikable but compelling tough guy cliche that Vin played. Remembering Pitch Black I’d like to take a moment to thank Mr Diesel for popularising black singlets and wraparound truck stop sunnies and making agro douchebags easier to spot.

riddick previewMy non sci-fi dork friend (pictured) thought the VFX could have been more impressive. Contrarily I enjoyed the fact that, except on a few standout moments, that the VFX wasn’t the obvious star. You weren’t constantly getting snapped out of the film by dragons and magic trees, it was very mature world-building. Kudos to the director and VFX guys, the comps and the characters looked perfect, their use was restrained. It wasn’t an all-out extravaganza of a million different creatures, so structurally it was like a zombie film; a test of the characters and how they work with each other. In this regard Riddick has much more in common with the first than the second film. It was full of the kind of action cliches that we haven’t seen much of since Arnie or Kurt Russell’s heyday. The accompanying kinds of sexism might put some off, but as it’s attributed to an admirable but not needing to be likeable protagonist it didn’t get to me… well not till one of the last scenes anyway.

Good popcorn action film. The best visual aspects totally nailed a Frank Franzetta look, with the welcome addiction of a bit of Frank Miller in some action sequences. It’s my favourite Vin Diesel screen performance to date, I hope he has many more wooden one-liners to come. Watch it if you like films like Conan the Barbarian. If this isn’t your thing you’ll wind up feeling like my friend did -“it’s like watching boys play a video game”. Her comment was spot on because I could recall more than once thinking, “awesome! this is exactly what playing a game was like when I was a kid!!!”

oliver heath


Words and picture by Oliver Heath