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 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Thursday July 10, 2014 - Edition No 905 

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RIDDICK

SYNOPSIS:
Left for dead on a sun-scorched planet, Riddick (Vin Diesel) finds himself up against an alien race of predators. Activating an emergency beacon alerts two ships: one carrying a new breed of deadly mercenary, the other captained by a man from Riddick's past, looking for revenge.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Even the chick in Riddick is macho, a cartoonish escape-chase-creature feature with sci-fi aspirations. Katee Sackhoff plays Dahl (Aussies will be amused), who proudly proclaims in one of the film's typically turbo-charged lines, "I don't f*** men ...I f*** 'em up sometimes if they deserve it..." delivered after doing just that to mercenary hardman Santana (Jorda Molla).

Dahl is one of Johns' (Matt Nable) 'men', a small team coming to not so much rescue Riddick (Vin Diesel) from his hellhole of a plant, as to capture him - for a wrong he dun of which we don't learn much until much later and then in strangled fashion. No matter, it's hardly important in this lunar plot. What matters here is how Riddick can damage his body and repair it. Lots of gory bits, including to other people and angry creatures.

The Riddick character has all the appeal of a teenager's hero, with his growl for voice, a sullen persona and a beefy body, all pent for action and violent retribution. Like so much in this film, Riddick himself is a special effect, a near-superhuman hero who can withstand just about anything, recover from any wound, fight with bare hands against monsters (only a slight exaggeration) and who not so much gains our sympathy as demands our attention.

Although set on a strange planet, infested with oversized, hairy, dingo-like creatures (Riddick takes on pup and raises it as a pet) as well as the even more deadly underwater serpent-like things with bulging bodies and scissorfangs, Riddick isn't really sci-fi. It could be set anywhere on Earth, the creatures replaced by earthly equivalents. The characters are all entirely contemporary human beings, and the plot is simply a video game in which Riddick outsmarts and outguns/fights a bunch of people looking to get him. Dialogue is clearly borrowed from the Hollywood Guide to Melodrama in Trailers, although some of it inspired a chuckle. As does Riddick's ability to improvise escapes and chop people up, chained or not. (I won't spoil it, but you'll know to what scene I refer if you see the film.)

Cool factors include Riddick's luminous pupils, the said creatures, notably the puppy that grows into a useful pet with more smarts than some of the villainous baddies, and a few gadgets. You'd have to be an avid fan, though, to find all this compelling.

Review by Louise Keller:
The elements of an arid landscape from a planet subservient to the sun are the central focus of this moody sci-fi drama in which Vin Diesel's exiled warrior Riddick continues his struggle for survival. It has been 13 years since David Twohy's Pitch Black that introduced the enigmatic character of Riddick and 9 years since The Chronicles of Riddick, in which Twohy further developed the concept, accentuating the setting and the hindrances confronting the escaped convict in his life in a remote part of the universe.

This sequel is less like a video game than the grandiosely titled Chronicles, offering a gritty, boy's own adventure that is a bit like Outward Bound with no instructors and a minefield of obstacles to conquer including dim-witted bounty hunters and vicious Giger-esque creatures. The film's main appeal lies in the hulking form of Vin Diesel, whose glow-in-the-dark eyes pierce the night skies as he outwits and conquers one and all.

In the lengthy opening sequence, Twohy establishes the character and the setting. Riddick is looking worse for wear, with gashes on his face and legs as he crawls face down on the sun-cracked earth like a reptile. None of the locals are friendly. There are flying reptiles, vicious wolf-like scavengers with tiger-striped markings and the gigantic serpents that live submerged in hot, muddy springs, ready to gash, rip and throttle. Riddick's newly adopted best friend is a young wolf, he trains as his pet. In voice-over, in his resonant, gravely tones, Diesel's Riddick states 'There are bad days and legendary bad days...' We know that we are about to witness one of those in the legendary category.

The plot involves an arrogant bounty hunter called Santana (Jordi Mollà, excellent) who has brought a glass box on his spaceship, intended for Riddick's head. Former Aussie rugby player Matt Nable works well as Johns, who arrives on the planet also in search of Riddick, but for a personal vendetta. Wry humour is used during the initial confrontations between Santana and Johns, in that Santana refuses to allow Johns to reveal his name, opting to call him 'Too Late', believing that he too is after the bounty. Eleven men in search of Riddick may sound like overkill, but Riddick is street smart (planet smart?), knowing how to get the better of his opponents both physically and mentally.

The violence is graphic and Riddick shows himself to be invincible. The main thrills come during the conflicts between the serpents, who are terrifying creations and by which Alien-creator, H.R. Giger would have been impressed. Much of our terror is built up from anticipation and from what we cannot see. There is a token female presence with Katee Sackhoff as an outspoken lesbian and the backstory involving Johns and his son is one that plays out well. As for Vin Diesel, this format works well for him, allowing his physicality to do most of the talking as he embodies the perfect anti-hero who has all the answers - be it from brute force or using his smarts. Get ready for the next in the series.



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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 1
Mixed: 0

RIDDICK (M)
(US, 2013)

CAST: Vin Diesel, Katee Sackhoff, Nolan Gerard Funk, Dave Bautista, Jordi Molla, Bookeem Woodbine, Karl Urban,

PRODUCER: Vin Diesel, Ted Field, Samantha Vincent

DIRECTOR: David Twohy

SCRIPT: David Twohy, Oliver Butcher, Stephen Cornwell

CINEMATOGRAPHER: David Eggby

EDITOR: Tracy Adams

MUSIC: Graeme Revell

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Joseph C. Nemec III

RUNNING TIME: 119 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: September 12, 2013







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