Wednesday, September 25, 2013

AN OBJECT OF RIDDICKULE AND SCORN

Riddick, the third, and probably not the last, movie in Vin Diesel's Riddick Trilogy is a pretty good show.  It features a sympathetic, smart, sadistic hero, great special effects, and uber-macho dialog that is as canned a year-old tuna and but made fresh by Diesel's drawling delivery.

In truth, there is little original about Riddick.  This is a movie that is both panned and praised because it shamelessly steals from its own heritage--drawing deeply from Pitch Black, the first movie in the series.

From what I hear, Riddick's return to its roots is praiseworthy.  (I have not actually seen Pitch Black.  I did see Chronicles of Riddick, however, and I can tell you that this movie is a huge improvement.)

I won't call Riddick great, but it is most certainly entertaining from front to back.  Diesel, as always, is infinitely watchable.  I think he is sort of the Sylvester Stallone of this generation--sans the speech impediment.  He is muscular to a near extreme, an able though not versatile actor, conveys a good sense of humor, and picks his vehicles well.

Like Stallone, Diesel also surrounded himself with a likable cast.  Let me tell you, along with Diesel, the two other stars of the latest Riddick adventure are largely special effects.  One is this "dingo-dongo" dog creature that Diesel adopts and raises--a truly impressive work of computer animation.  The other one, a bounty hunter named Diaz, certainly looks like a computer animation, but he's actually a professional wrestler named Bautista.

Dave Bautista, who has cut quite a figure in the WWE, is HUGE, muscular enough to make Vin Diesel look small, and hugely charismatic.  When he appears on the screen, everyone else seems to shrink.  Beyond that, he comes across as likable and competent.

Could he be as big as Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson?  Yes, I believe he has that much potential.

Three other actors in this film deserve a shout: Jordi Molla, playing a lightweight bounty hunter who tries to hide behind very bid talk; Matt Nable, who looks like a pint-sized Liam Neeson and comes across as smart and able; and Katee Sackhoff,who pulls off being both butch and pretty at the same time.

Riddick is the best of the best for late summer fare--a movie not meant to compete with the Iron Man 3s and Man of Steels, but still a popcorn muncher.  Frankly, Riddick struck me as a very, very expensive B-Movie, a guilty pleasure that a lot of people will be guilty of seeing more than once.

Both JenMo and Lu mentioned liking this movie and I must agree.  It was a bit on the raw side for my taste, but it more than paid off in the end.

23 comments:

JenMo said...

I wouldn't count out seeing Riddick again. I read somewhere that this installment only cost $30 million to makes (where Chronicles was upward of $100). Studios don't need a movie to be a huge hit to justify continuing a series, they generally just want it in the green.

Vin himself also has a soft spot for his silver eyed alter ego. Apparently the reason he cameoed in the third Fast & Furious movie, was in trade to get exclusive rights to Riddick. This is his baby, don't count out seeing more.

Warsol Ender said...

also the chronicles of Riddick games have been fairly praised as amazing and fun like butchers bay and assault on the dark Athena where they bring truth to his character being an escapist and the animated film was pretty good which told a story between pitch black and chronicles of Riddick but this latest movie really did tell a good story but some of the action scene's seemed as if to become more scripted mostly in the last act

Steven L. Kent said...

Making that movie for $30 million, that in and of itself would be a major Academy accomplishment.

Steven L. Kent said...

I reviewed Butcher Bay. Technologically, it was a breakthrough game. As I recall, it Vin Diesel owned the company that made that. I was always that they didn't make a wider array of games.

Lu Dorner said...

Only $30 million...lol....pocket change...hahahaha

I have a soft spot for Vin's silver-eyed alter ego as well, so they can keep making those movies, and I'll keep seeing them, buying the DVDs, etc. In fact, I hope they make another one. I'm good with it (and not just for the eye-candy factor of muscles stacked on top of muscles they load these films with) :D - though that certainly helps. When I'm hooked on a series, I'm dedicated, no matter how "eh" the installments might get, ie. Star Wars, the Friday the 13th movies, etc.

If you feel compelled and have time with your deadline fast approaching and all, check out Pitch Black and see what you think.

Cheers!

Steven L. Kent said...

Lu, you may only need wait another year. The ending made it pretty clear that the guy with the silver cataracts and the really sharp blades will not be in exile for long.

JenMo said...


And I agree with you about Bautista Steven. He didn't overact, of let himself be type cast as "muscle," a trap most wrestlers crossing over fall into. His character was great as the voice of reason, and came across calm and competent.

Ash Ketchum said...

After reading your review, I'm curious to get you opinion about the Fast and the Furious movies since Vin stars in those movies too? By the way, I just read your The Ultimate History of Videogames book earlier this year and I really enjoyed it. I wasn't aware of the book until I read the book "Opening the Xbox" in which you were quoted in some passages in the book.

Steven L. Kent said...

and very charismatic.

Steven L. Kent said...

Ahhh, Dean's book. He did a good job with Opening Xbox.

I've only seen the second Fast and Furious. At least I've seen two-out-of-three Riddick movies.

I'm more into science fiction than the car culture scene.

JenMo said...

Ditto on the scifi Steven. The F&F films aren't bad for what they are. And after watching one I always drive too fast after, but they aren't must sees for me.

Did finally see Oblivian, quality scifi. Thoroughly enjoyed it. Tom Cruise is working his way back to being a must see for me.

Lu Dorner said...

Speaking of hired muscle that are "meh" actors, Schwarzenegger has a new movie or so coming out. Don't get me wrong, I dug all his 80's muscle movies, but as you can clearly see, this preview left such an impression on me, I can't even remember the name of the film.

And speaking of wrestling-esque guys that cross over who end up not being bad actors, I don't suppose anyone here has seen (or heard of) Cyborg Soldier. Saw it on Google Play and hit up a friend to see if he'd seen it for a quick review. It stars UFC Middleweight champ Rich Franklin and Tiffani Amber Thiessen. I'd label it as sorta B movie-ish, not a particularly high budget film, but entertaining enough if you like the military/sci-fi genre. Rich Franklin pulls in a decent performance as the prototype modified soldier who escapes the secret project. Not academy award material, but I did actually pay money to buy it and will revisit it from time to time. I've been pleasantly surprised in recent years at the number of folks from other entertainment venues who cross over into acting and do a decent job of it.

Steven L. Kent said...

I liked Oblivion a lot. Cruise is always too Cruise for my taste, but he did a good enough job in Oblivion for me to overlook it... mostly. He's always the intense, ultra handsome young man, even in Tropic Thunder where he's supposedly acting his age, he's still the same.

That said, he more than carried his weight in Oblivion. That role could have helped his career if enough people had given the movie a chance.

Steven L. Kent said...

Lu, Bautista has a distinct advantage over Franklin when it comes to acting. All WWE superstars have that advantage--they are both athletes and performers by definition. These are guys who learn how to ham it up for locker room interviews and need to know how to use body language to communicate in the ring. They are masters at what they do.

Even Brock Lesner, who absolutely proved that the stars of the WWE should be taken seriously in the a serious competition, knew how to turn it on for the cameras.

JenMo said...

Have you seen Adam (Edge) Copeland on SyFy's Haven? He's really great. And not just cause I have a soft spot for the Viking type male.

You're right that WWE wrastlers have an advantage. Though it doesn't always translate outside the square circle.

Steven L. Kent said...

I've never seen Haven, but I know about Edge. He has a great look for Hollywood.

You're right about it not always translating. Judging by his performance in Riddick, Bautista may be the best actor I have seen come out of the WWE. That said, the Rock was beyond brilliant in Be Cool, but he's never reached those levels again. Same with Hulk Hogan, who was a phenom in Rocky III and a disappointment in everything that followed. Rowdy Roddy Piper never failed to disappoint.

Whom have I missed?

JenMo said...

John Cena has been in a couple movies. I haven't seen any though.

Steven L. Kent said...

I saw one. Forgettable.

Lu Dorner said...

I saw The Marine with John Cena. Bubblegum for the mind. Not much else but actiony enough. I don't expect amazing acting from these guys, though I like The Rock a lot from his movies to the cameos he puts in here and there on the Disney channel. But I don't look for great intellectual stimulation out of certain movies in this kind of ilk. They are just fun and entertaining and great at face value. I stand by my previous assessment of myself that I'm a terrible critic in that I find amusement value pretty easily :)

Steven L. Kent said...

I can only hope you would be stunned by some of the awful, awful movies I have loved.

That said, you really should check out Be Cool. The Rock was AMAZING... almost e.Everything else about it sucked.

Lu Dorner said...

Steven you might be surprised. It doesn't take much to entertain me. Simple pleasures, silver linings and all.

I shall have to check out Be Cool. A) I like The Rock, and B) I'm from the south. Folks from my neck of the woods love things like NASCAR because it's easy to drink beer to. If nothing else, so many "awful, awful movies" might be great to just drink beer to. 12 ounce curls are bad for the waistline but great for the mood. :)

Steven L. Kent said...

I went to the Daytona 500 once. You know, you can't appreciate that event watching it on television. You see it in person, and it's really amazing.

Joshua Tamasovich said...

Riddick...seemed like a lead into another flick...no, I would not watch this again.