RIDDICK. Worthy sequel to a cult science fiction original
And although he tested the patience of his fans, they should be fully satisfied with his return. Richard B. Riddick, the famous space adventurer, is back after years of absence on the big screen, and most importantly, he is doing quite well.
But let’s start from the beginning. In 2000, screenwriter and director David Twohy introduced Pitch Black to the world. This modest, low-budget, almost B-movie sci-fi thriller quickly achieved cult status. It owed this to a skillful selection of genre clichés, vivid and brutal action scenes, the inclusion of interesting ethical dilemmas, and, above all, the character of Riddick. His charisma and uncompromising nature emanated so strongly from the screen that they overshadowed the roles of other characters in the film. Riding on the exceptional impact of this character, four years later, another film was created with the aim of expanding the universe in which his adventures took place. Unfortunately, The Chronicles of Riddick did not enjoy the same popularity, and they even suffered a rather painful defeat in theaters, as they managed to gather only half of their $105 million budget. The change in convention from the first part – from a dark SF action to an interplanetary adventure – and a clear smoothing of the message (PG-13), which also affected the personality of the main character, can be pointed out as the reasons for this state of affairs. However, I belong to those who believe that both parts equally possess a range of exceptional qualities, allowing them to complement each other gracefully.
The Riddick franchise also includes an animated film titled The Chronicles of Riddick: Dark Fury, explaining what happened to Riddick between the events of the first and second films, as well as two video games delving into one of the more interesting aspects of his earlier adventures – the escape from the Butcher Bay prison. Understandably, this was not enough for the fans, and the character deserved much more screen time. So, finally, David Twohy serves us with a third film bearing the name of the most important character in his screenwriting work.
Riddick stylistically and narratively resembles Pitch Black. And this information should be sufficient encouragement for many to buy a ticket and a sufficient reason to end this review. However, I will take the trouble to explain why. The creators decided to return to the proven formula, not complicating things, going for the path of least resistance. And praise to them for that because, as I mentioned, partly due to overcomplicating the script, The Chronicles of Riddick received such a poor reception. So, they decided to focus on narrative transparency. In the next installment of his adventures, the main character is betrayed and left to the mercy of fate on an unknown planet. Again, he must bring out his animal instincts to effectively fight for his survival. The Earth he finds himself on is teeming with extremely dangerous creatures. However, this is not the only problem that will stand in his way – there is still a high bounty on his head, so bounty hunters will be lurking around every corner. Answer for yourself whether he will manage to get out of trouble this time.
I liked how the threads from both previous parts of the series were skillfully connected. Although precise knowledge of Riddick’s past adventures is not necessary to enjoy the pleasure of getting to know another stage of them, it is good to remind oneself of their outline. The closure for the two previous parts was cleverly established, and who knows, it might pave the way for further films that will detach themselves from the current plots. Riddick turns out to be a well-thought-out project because, being a sequel, it also exhibits signs of a reboot.
A word about special effects. It could be noticed that both in Pitch Black and The Chronicles of Riddick, they were not at a high level – which, due to a larger budget, was particularly surprising, especially in the case of the latter film. Here, there may not be any revelations or, even more so, revolutions in this field, but I have the impression that they look better, making Riddick perhaps the film with the best CGI in the series. Firstly, they no longer strike the eye as tacky, not as exaggerated, and secondly, they are dosed in a more thoughtful manner. I especially liked the appearance and movement of the main creatures making life difficult for the characters. They are not new xenomorphs, but they have something that should both terrify and captivate.
However, the most important reason to watch David Twohy’s film is neither the well-crafted plot woven from proven schemes nor any aspects of the film’s style. This reason lies in the protagonist himself, once again brilliantly led by the – as it turns out – inimitable Vin Diesel. Riddick is the type of hero, or rather anti-hero, who can bear the burden of the entire film on his shoulders. We want to watch his struggles and listen to his one-liners. He is a somewhat forgotten type of action movie hero, unwavering in his actions, blindly believing only in his own judgment of the situation. He is, after all, a character shaped by evil, but somewhere deep inside, showing signs of goodness. And perhaps that’s why he fits so well in the darkness – because despite the surrounding darkness, he can see what is most important to him. Therefore, I have great hope that this interplanetary rumble has not yet spoken the audience’s final word.