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254632Released: 2013

Directed By: David Twohy

Starring:  Vin Diesel, Karl Urban, Dave Bautista

Certificate: 15

Reviewed By: Steve Taylor-Bryant

Pitch Black was a cult classic. A low budget ‘B’ movie that went on to surprising commercial success and, whilst I loved the second chapter The Chronicles of Riddick, I can understand why some critics and fans hated it for being too much of a costume drama. If you are going to do epic scale films like that, they have to match up to David Lynch’s Dune and it certainly didn’t. It also went for a lower age rating and seemed to pander to the money men demanding more box office success.

Fast forward nearly a decade and we are back in the world of writer/director David Twohy and the goggles go back on for Riddick.

Set a few years after Chronicles, we find our unlikely hero left for dead by Necromonger Vaako (Karl Urban). Riddick has to rebuild his strength and find some kind of Off-World transport. After discovering an outpost and realising he is still a wanted murderer, Riddick sets off the distress signal and awaits whoever will land on the planet so he can take their ship. Two teams of bounty hunters arrive seeking a massive pay day. A blood thirsty band of mercenaries headed up by Santana (Jordi Molla) and a group of a more organised skill set led by Boss Johns (Matt Nable). A blood written message spells out Riddick’s plan to take a ship and leave them to die.

The two teams start out as hostile but as they lose men to Riddick, they must work together to satisfy an outcome that leaves them unharmed. Well that’s not going to happen, is it? With a storm approaching Riddick comes to the ships and warns that no one wants to be on the planet in 24 hours time. What follows is the inevitable capture, an interrogation of sorts and some typical Diesel humour in his gruff responses. The outpost falls under the rain and the monster scorpions attack taking one life after another in the darkness. A deal is struck for Riddick to retrieve the nodes so the ships will fly and one of the goriest scenes of the film occurs.

As we enter the last third of the film, we go back to Pitch Black territory with the rain replacing the darkness and some space Harleys for good measure. Left to die alone after once again being betrayed by someone, this time Johns, Riddick finds himself fighting off one of the scorpions atop a cliff. Is this the end? Or do we get the cheesy ending that should most definitely lead into a sequel?

Whilst the budget is smaller on Riddick than on Chronicles and the whole film is smaller in scale, the CGI animals are incredibly good, even if some of the green screen work leaves a lot to be desired. At times, especially in the closing segments of the film, it does drift dangerously close to Pitch Black remake levels and character interaction isn’t is the greatest intellectually but the interactions between the rival factions of bounty hunters is entertaining fare. Whilst Katee Sackhoff’s Dahl will not win friends amongst the feminists, she is very watchable as the butch lesbian and Dave Bautista as Diaz is one of the more talented amongst his WWE peers who have found their way into the acting game.

There are some epic landscapes, some incredible action scenes and a lot more gore than its predecessor but it doesn’t hit the heights that maybe it should. More of a John Carpenter’s Ghosts of Mars meets Predator than a true Riddick tale. I can only hope for a fourth instalment to bring a better end to a fantastic anti-hero.

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