Critics' Corner: Riddick

46-year-old Vin Diesel returns to the role and the movie series that rocketed his career in 2000, "Riddick". Sure, he was in "Saving Private Ryan", but it was Riddick that made him a star. The series began with a little known science fiction movie called "Pitch Black". In that movie, Riddick is a prisoner being transported when the ship crashes on a planet full of blood thirsty aliens who come out at night. The planet falls into complete darkness so Riddick's surgically-enhanced eyes come in handy, as he can see in the dark. "Riddick" returns to this notion as the second film in the series, "Chronicles of Riddick", while still pretty good, thought they had to get all fancy with their new found fame. "Riddick" and "Pitch Black" prove that less is more.

"Riddick" to me is a tale of two movies. The opening moments of the film find Riddick stranded on a sun-scorched planet and find him struggling to survive his wounds, the elements and the planets creatures. The first half of the movie, while simple and less eventful, is the most interesting part. As Riddick explores and uses his instincts and survival skills to stay alive, I was completely invested and enjoying a good old fashion science fiction adventure. Later on, mercenaries join the story as they come after Riddick for the bounty on his head.

The addition of more people to the story didn't lessen the film by any means. In fact, it just pushed the movie into a different direction and it was also very interesting. What did lessen the film though, was a collage of terrible dialogue, silliness and character motivations and personalities that changed from scene to scene. I was completely enjoying the film and was prepared to call this the surprise hit of the near-summer, until the creators failed to proofread the final third of the film.

A vicious mercenary named Santana is after Riddick's head and he is vicious, except for when he's being punched in the face by the one girl in the movie or if the scene calls for him to be comic relief. A silly kicking a sword scene served no purpose except for the creators to do something new and gruesome and it was so silly it made the audience laugh. Finally, a bold prediction by Riddick as he's chained up basically spelled out the entire finale of the film, including that the one girl in the film would be straddling him at the end. From that point on, as I watched each one of Riddick's predictions come true, I couldn't stop thinking about the 'straddling' part of his story.

"Riddick" could have been good, or even great, but the filmmakers tried overtly to make things fun about halfway through the movie, not realizing that the movie was already fun. We were there. We were beside Riddick and his ability to friend a wild dog despite the dogs nature. Then the movie went into silliness land, it lost its edge and it reeked of a group of filmmakers trying too hard to make something entertaining.