'Riddick' is better off lost in space
05:00 AM, Sep 05, 2013
Move along, there’s nothing to see and no one to root for in this murky franchise reboot.
If only audiences, like the title character in Riddick (* out of four; rated R; opens Friday nationwide), were equipped with luminescent extra-vision eyeballs. Then it might be possible to muddle through the dark and incoherent action scenes. But to the ordinary naked eye, characters and landscape look bathed in dusty milk chocolate. It’s often impossible to tell who’s fighting whom or who’s been devoured by a space alien. Not that it’s really worth pondering.
Not only is this third installment in the series tedious, grisly and inane, its star, Vin Diesel, plays a ridiculous amalgam in the title role. He’s a killing machine with a heart of gold, a malevolent mush-ball who plays fetch with alien critters.
The first half-hour is dialogue-free as Riddick, left for dead on a dusty wasteland of a planet, tromps around on sepia-toned scorched earth, dodging slithery eels, snarling zebra/dingo hybrids and venomous giant scorpions. He’s something of a murderous medicine man, fixing his broken leg by screwing armor into his flesh. He’s all brawn and can-do ingenuity. But then he speaks. Audiences will long for the silence of the opening scenes. Diesel is more adept at glowering and flexing his muscles than at dialogue. His thudding monotone does nothing for the vacuous voice-over narration, which he punctuates with grunts and growls.
The most appealing character is a feral zebra/dingo pup that Riddick befriends. Their escapades are substantially more entertaining than the suspense-free action scenes.
At least Dame Judi Dench had the good sense to sit this one out. She co-starred in 2004’s The Chronicles of Riddick, the sequel to the first in the series, 2000’s Pitch Black.
What there is of a story is wince-worthy. Riddick is a wanted killer banished to an inhospitable planet. All he wants is to return home. He sends out an emergency beacon, hoping to snare a ship. But mercenaries are hot on his trail. And he’s worth more dead than alive.
Those in pursuit 11 of them, but who’s counting are about as one-dimensional as the title character. It’s a holiday for clichéd action-movie characters: There’s trash-talking Santana (Jordi Mollà), innocent young Bible-thumper Luna (Nolan Gerard Funk), fatherly commander Boss Johns (Matt Nable) and tough babe Dahl (Katee Sackhoff).
No one is memorable, but Santana is clearly the worst of the lot, constantly harassing Dahl, blurting out homophobic insults and cracking rape jokes. Riddick also makes inappropriate sexual comments to Dahl. Following a voyeuristic episode, he comments that her nipples are the same color as her toenail polish. Yet somehow, we’re meant to find his overtures charmingly macho.
The video-game quality and adolescent obsessions of this futuristic action movie are unmistakable, though the movie devolves into a slasher flick.
Riddick’s computer-generated pet dingo who has no name-o is the best actor of the lot.