After nearly a decade, Vin Diesel returns as cult favorite Riddick, a convict with the ability to see in the dark, in this weekend's follow-up to the 2004 film "Chronicles of Riddick."
The third film in the series from director David Twohy ("The Fugitive"), the new movie follows the gist of the two previous flicks with Riddick deserted on a hostile planet left to fend for himself.
The first two films were never major box-office hits. Instead, over the years, the series gained a cult following. ("Pitch Black" earned $53 million worldwide while the costly $105 million sequel "The Chronicles of Riddick" grossed $115 million in theaters.)
"The reality is that I always envisioned the 'Riddick' franchise as a continuing mythology, so I always imagined that there would be many other films to follow," Diesel told Spinoff Online. "And yet, I do feel like I answered that growing request from the fans that said, 'Please make another Riddick.'"
After many were unfazed by the 2004 sequel "Chronicles of Riddick," the new movie returns to its roots channeling the first film in the series "Pitch Black."
Currently, "Riddick" is sitting at 59% on film review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes.
No matter how the movie is being reviewed, it's the perfect time to release the film — Diesel's riding the media wave after this summer's hugely successful "Fast & Furious 6" and the actor hinted at an appearance in a future Marvel movie.
It's clear the film is appealing to Diesel's wide fan base. According to a Fandango survey of more than 1,000 "Riddick" ticket-buyers, 89% are fans of the actor while 67% have seen all of his "Fast & Furious" films in theaters.
Here's what you should know before seeing it:
The beginning is great.Empire Magazine:
"Largely wordless, the segment reminds us that Diesel still has charisma enough to hold our attention when he’s the only human element on screen for 25 minutes, fending off scorpion beasts and taming feral CG wolf-bastards."
"First things first, though—namely a terrific, mostly dialogue-free 20-minute opening during which Riddick acclimates to his new surroundings."
"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."
The dialogue isn't fantastic. Note: This happened with another big blockbuster this year ("Fast 6"). It's not the end of the world. You're not heading out to see "Riddick" for dialogue.
‘‘Sloppy’’ is a kind word, actually, for the ridiculously clumsy dialogue in ‘‘Riddick.’’
But, you're here for the gore anyway, right? Right ...
"Plenty of bone crunching and blood gushing, along with some selective nudity, have boosted the movie’s rating up to an “R,” but lacking the distinctive visual style, robust production design and planet-hopping pace of its predecessor."
... and crude jokes.
"Instead, we must pan for scraps of pleasure … while trying not to get so riled up by all the rape jokes that we spin around and stab our seatmate ... Nothing says Strong Female Character like a savage babe who spends most of the film getting sexually harassed."
Don't expect anything mind-blowing. THR's Justin Lowe says the film doesn't take a lot of risks.
"The latest installment feels tentative even at a flabby 120 minutes, more like a placeholder that barely advances the considerable Riddick mythology. Playing it safe with a script that offers Riddick up as a lone avenging hero, Twohy passes on the opportunity to effectively shade the character’s distinctive dimensionality."
"It's not to say there isn't entertainment value to be had in this — there are a few cool kills throughout — it's just that we've seen this all before."
Critics can't decide whether they enjoy the CGI planet Riddick inhabits or hate it.
"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."
"While 'Chronicles' was a full-blown space opera, the current iteration is beset by unremarkable CGI effects and tethered to limited locations."
Overall, it's fun, campy, and everything that will keep the cult-following of the original film happy, should leave happy.
"The bald and beefy Diesel, whose sturdy commercial appeal is proven again and again with the huge success of the ‘‘Fast & Furious’’ franchise, is always fun to watch."
"It's precisely the movie I thought it would be: an overly macho Vin Diesel killing monsters and scumbags. Predictable and pedestrian, sure, but are you not getting exactly what you pay for? This is a Riddick movie not a Harold Pinter drama."
"And where 'Chronicles' overdosed on cartoonish CGI, 'Riddick' returns to the 'Pitch Black' formula of mixing animated elements with practical effects and puppetry, creating a tactile otherworldly environment that ranges from the sets to the props to the creatures (designed by the great Patrick Tatopoulos) themselves."
Overall Consensus: If you're a fan of the series, and Vin Diesel, see it.
The film clearly knows its audience. We're not worried about its box-office performance this weekend. The film is the fan favorite for the weekend on Fandango — not that that's a great feat. There honestly isn't much else out, unless a poorly reviewed documentary on J.D. Salinger ("Catcher in the Rye" author) sounds appealing.
Check out a trailer for the film: