Riddick isn’t that bad, but it’s not stellar either.

Apart from an okay story and weak characters, the bloodthirsty mayhem that ensues is well worth it.

Sean Pruett-Jones, Staff Reporter

Richard B. Riddick. Escaped Convict. Murderer. These words are the famous words that describe none other than the infamous Riddick, the main character of David Twohy’s new addition to the would-be epic saga, The Chronicles of Riddick. While it was quite a fun way to spend a Friday night with some friends when we wanted to go see a nice gorefest on the big screen, it wasn’t the sci fi/horror epic of the year that would be talked about for years to come. A less than stellar story that is almost nothing more than a remake of Pitch Black and the mediocre acting and character development kept it from rocking my socks off, but I don’t regret seeing it. And neither will you, if you see it. Just don’t expect much.

Riddick is the fourth and most recent installment in the Chronicles of Riddick saga, the first being Pitch Black, followed by Dark Fury and then Chronicles of Riddick. Vin Diesel reprises his role as Riddick, along with Jordi Molla, Matt Nable, and Katee Sackhoff. Riddick is directed by David Twohy, who directed the rest of the Riddick movies, excluding Dark Fury, although he did remain as a writer. Riddick came out on September 6th, 2013, 9 years after Chronicles of Riddick came out.

Now, it does help to have seen the first three movies (excluding Dark Fury, which was nothing more than filler) because the story of Riddick follows heavily on both Pitch Black and Chronicles. Riddick has been named the Lord Marshall of the necromancers from the end of Chronicles, but he wants to return to Furya, his home planet. Through a twist of fate and some betrayal, he’s actually stranded on “Not Furya” as Riddick himself put it. So, he has to get off the planet and hack, slash, stab, gouge, eye-poke, and scare the heebie jeebies out of anything that gets in his way, including some kinds of mud scorpion monster, who seem to be the planet’s primary inhabitants other than a zebra-leopard thingy, and some  bounty hunters who are out for his head. Before they arrive on the planet, though, Riddick notices a storm that brings the mud monsters along as company, and he knows he needs to get off the planet A.S.A.P, whether the bounty hunters are willing to lend him a ship or not.

From there, his day just gets worse.

It really helps to see Pitch Black for a strange reason: this movie is literally a remake of it with the same budget and a slightly different story and chronology. Riddick stranded on planet, must get off planet. Other guys on planet don’t like him but must also get off planet. Must work together or die. Once I noticed this, I simply chuckled and tried to note all the references that the movie makes to the first one. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but at times it does feel a tad unoriginal to those who’ve seen the first movie. There’s the girl with short hair, the power cells to power the ship, the overly religious guy, the trigger happy guy who gets what’s coming to him, and so on. It’s not a deal breaker, though, because the movie still stands out well enough on its own from a storytelling perspective, and only slightly less so on the characters we meet.

The bounty hunters that come to the planet range between outfitted army-guys/gals, like the spunky young Dahl, to dirty thugs, like the crude Santana. Dahl is a sturdy, independent chick who ain’t up to taking guff from anyone, regardless of several sexual advances on both Riddick and Santana’s parts. Santana is just sickening, and it’s tremendous fun to watch him get frustrated with himself and the others. Diaz is just bursting with muscles and testosterone, and he has some witty lines.

Other than that: everyone else just seems like target practice for Riddick, with no true depth or substance. Papa Johns, however, presents a whole new situation, and his dilemma with Riddick was one of the more interesting parts of the movie – he is the father of the spineless and cruel enemy of Riddick in Pitch Black, also named Johns, who had to work with Riddick to escape the planet. Riddick ended up killing him due to John’s wish of killing a child, but Papa Johns doesn’t know this, and Papa Johns wanted to know what happened on that planet that left Johns dead and Riddick alive. Papa Johns is a good soldier who misses his son and has good reason to despise Riddick. Other than him and a few select mercs, they’re just bodies shooting guns. With those extra bodies for Riddick to toy with comes the best part of the movie – the action.

You’re going to see a mud monster’s entrails fall out of its stomach, Riddick fixing a broken leg the old fashioned way, a merc collapse from venom, a zebra-leopard get eaten by one of the monsters, Riddick picking off mercs, and more and more and more. This is a VERY gory movie that would make someone faint of heart lose their appetite for a fortnight, and their also the best part of the movie. These scenes are the most riveting and heart-pounding, and you will be on the edge of your seat, for the action scenes in Riddick are without a doubt awesome. The rest of the movie pales in comparison, and it’s a rather fortunate thing that the story isn’t so painfully complex that it takes away from the good head popping fun. It allows you to simply enjoy what’s going on without getting too caught up in all this meddling dramatic fodder. Some more fun comes out of Riddick domesticating a zebra-leopard early on, and it’s actually a decent emotional reach the movie makes in our direction, hoping for us to make some bonds, and it more or less succeeded. The companion isn’t ever distracting and it also helps Riddick out to make some enjoyable scenes of cat and mouse.

Now, I cannot stress this enough – if you are not exactly big on blood and guts and heads flying off (or parts of them), do not watch this movie. If you are a fan, like I am, then do not pass this movie up. The mediocre and somewhat recycled story doesn’t make it or break it, and fortunately takes a backseat to the action. The characters are, for the most part, dull and mere catalysts for some good laughs at Riddick’s creativity and versatility, the exception being Dahl, Santana, and Papa Johns. I had the fortunate pleasure of seeing this movie in Imax, because the movie certainly looks fantastic. However, if you take a more casual approach and see it on a Saturday night with some friends simply for a fun night, you will not be disappointed.