This second sequel to 1999’s Pitch Black feels like a link movie to a forthcoming longer franchise.
And given that it stars (and is produced by) Vin Diesel, the man behind the seemingly never-ending Fast and Furious series (seven films and counting…) it wouldn’t be surprising to see a lot more gruesome clobberfests featuring the man with the shining eyes.
Riddick is a glorified ‘B’ movie with a no-name cast that has ‘A’ movie pretensions. Left for dead on a bleak planet overrun with bloodthirsty predators, über interstellar bad guy Riddick happens on a deserted outpost and sets off a distress beacon. In doing so he sends his identity to potential rescuers.
It draws not one but two squads of mercenaries, both after Riddick’s head. But what he knows and they don’t is that Riddick is not the only danger facing them.
Brimming with sci-fi references – everything from Mad Max to Robinson Crusoe on Mars – Riddick should be a hackneyed collection of moments ripped off from other, better, movies.
Yet it actually delivers on tension, action and gore despite Riddick himself being out of the picture for a significant chunk of time as the secondary story involving the bounty hunters is set up.
Diesel opts for the minimum of dialogue – barely an entire sentence for the first 30 minutes – and lets the backdrop and fauna tell the story for him. And if the hostile beasties he encounters are CGI rendered and ever so slightly artificial, such is the fierceness of the milieu that the movie gets away with it.
An almost entirely male affair, Riddick gets an injection of sex appeal courtesy of Katee Sackhoff as Dahl (pronounced ‘Doll’), a feisty blonde with an impressive right hook. For the ladies there is Karl Urban though he provides only a brief cameo.
With its menagerie of alien dingoes, scorpion/dogs and aqua snakes Riddick sets up some grisly moments that goggle-eyed teens will lap up. And with original director David Twohy at the helm this one looks set to run and run.
Star rating: ***
Originally published in the Yorkshire Post and on WOW247