‘Riddick’ Review

Published 1 year ago by , Updated November 9th, 2014 at 6:48 pm,

Vin Diesel as Riddick in Pitch Black Riddick Review

Even as the film locks into a more familiar monster-killing/CGI action-thriller, Twohy has enough smart elements in the mix that keep the film sharp.

Riddick serves as a direct sequel to The Chronicles of Riddick as the titular antihero abandons the Necromonger throne to seek out his homeworld, Furya. Riddick (Vin Diesel) leaves peacefully and the Necromongers agree to escort him on his journey – only to maroon the fugitive on an unknown planet with highly evolved (and subsequently extremely lethal) animal life.

As Riddick recovers, he begins exploring the planet in an effort to find transport off-world. With time against him, as well as a ruthless alien threat on the horizon, he makes a desperate move – and sends out an open channel distress signal, alerting a group of merciless bounty hunters to his location. Ruthless and well-armed the mercenaries prepare to take Riddick dead or alive (the bounty doubles if he’s dead) – meaning, if he hopes for return to Furya, Richard B. Riddick will have to fight through some of the most dangerous humans and alien creatures he’s ever encountered.

Pitch Black and Chronicles of Riddick director/writer David Twohy returns for the sequel, but fresh eyes from Unknown screenwriters Oliver Butcher and Stephen Cornwell help the latest Riddick installment walk a fine line between franchise past and future. For that reason, Riddick will have no problem pleasing longtime fans of the series while also delivering an accessible and entertaining sci-fi action experience for casual moviegoers. The movie reinstates Riddick‘s R-Rating – so uninitiated viewers who aren’t familiar with the Riddick character (along with his trademark brutality, sexual innuendo, and deranged morality) could find certain elements of the character (as well as the larger movie) off-putting. Still, Riddick’s abrasive and lethal personality is part of the fun – and has always been what sets the character apart from comparable Hollywood heroes.

Riddick 2013 Vin Diesel Katee Sackhoff Raoul Trujillo Riddick Review

Vin Diesel, Katee Sackhoff, and Matt Nable in ‘Riddick’

The opening moments of Riddick are tied to the events of The Chronicles of Riddick (2004) but the overall structure and tone are much closer to franchise-starter Pitch Black. The Riddick storyline actually draws a number of direct connections to events in the original film and offers-up several fan service nods as well as thematic parallels – so many, in fact, that some viewers may want to brush-up on the prior installments (mainly Pitch Black) if they wish to get the most out of Riddick‘s story. That said, revisiting past movies in the franchise is not required, as viewers who are willing to let a few references and revelations pass by will find that Twohy is surprisingly good at laying out all of the necessary pieces for the events at hand.

Surprisingly, in spite of all the franchise backstory, references, pertinent exposition, a dingo-like sidekick, and a roster of diverse mercenary characters, Riddick is actually pretty straightforward – with an intriguing three-act structure that keeps the plot tight and engaging. The first third of the film sets the bar high, with a minimalistic survival story that is both unique and captivating – while managing to show a more vulnerable Riddick (without softening his personality or skills). Yet, even as the film locks into a more familiar monster-killing/CGI action-thriller, Twohy has enough smart elements in the mix that keep the film sharp – even when it borrows heavily from Pitch Black as well as other sci-fi favorites.

Riddick Red band Trailer Comic Con 2013 Riddick Review

Bounty Hunters Diaz, Santana, Luna, Dahl, and Falco in ‘Riddick’

As mentioned, the Riddick character is explored as well as challenged in a number of interesting ways this round. While some moviegoers unfairly dismiss Diesel as a one-note muscle head, the actor has kept busy honing his craft over the last decade – and it shows in Riddick. Diesel has injected (a few) subtleties into the character that the star could not have presented thirteen years ago. Consequently, this version of Riddick is the most interesting, honest, and outright believable of the series – making him even more terrifying (and at times humorous) than ever before.

The supporting cast is a solid roster of characters that make for appealing Riddick (and monster) fodder. A few of the bounty hunters – most notably Santana (Jordi Mollà), an unscrupulous mercenary, and Luna (Nolan Gerard Funk), a devout Christian – fall into predictable arcs that provide a few laugh-worthy moments but never escape one-note cliche. Fortunately, the remaining crew is a bit more nuanced, most notably Boss Johns (Matt Nable) – who has complicated backstory to unpack with Riddick. Katee Sackhoff gives a welcome (but equally no-nonsense) dose of girl power into the team as Dahl. It’s another strong female role for the actress, and Dahl is instrumental in the success of the Riddick story (aided by fun banter between her and the titular antihero); unfortunately, the part doesn’t allow Sackhoff to stretch very far out of Starbuck (Battlestar Galactica) typecasting. Dave Bautista (soon to be seen in Guardians of the Galaxy) is another standout. A formidable presence with surprisingly keen comedic timing, Bautista offers slick fisticuffs as well as several big laughs.

Riddick 2013 Vin Diesel Creatures Riddick Review

Vin Diesel as Richard B. Riddick in ‘Riddick’

Honorable mention goes to the Riddick effects team – who create one of the most believable CG animal companions in recent memory. A sizable dingo-like dog, the animal is instrumental in bringing out new sides of Riddick’s personality – resulting in some especially amusing moments. The alien threat this round is equally well-realized through convincing effects and imaginative creature design – even more intimidating than the Pitch Black Bioraptors that helped sell Riddick as a potential franchise antihero. As a result, audiences can expect that with a more formidable set of otherworldly monsters to fight, Riddick also delivers plenty of solid action set pieces that mix practical and digital effects (instead of the overly CGI environments and brawls that undercut The Chronicles of Riddick).

Riddick is also playing as an IMAX Experience and while the sprawling alien landscapes look (and sound) great in the premium format, most frugal filmgoers will likely find the overall presentation isn’t worth the added cost. In certain scenes, IMAX is actually a distraction more than a benefit – as the film quickly cuts back and forth between fullscreen and widescreen shots within a single sequence. Viewers who simply want a bigger and louder Riddick experience are the only ones that should spring for the higher price.

Despite some underwhelming adherences to stock sci-fi stories and characters, as well as moments of eye-rolling dialogue and a few indulgent character beats, Riddick offers a solid action-horror experience. A more experienced performance from Vin Diesel helps transition Riddick from an over-the-top action hero into a fully realized character that is actually capable of sustaining a quality film franchise. While longtime fans will surely enjoy seeing Riddick back on the big screen, the latest series installment should have no problem drawing in non-fans too – not to mention set the stage for further chronicles of Richard B. Riddick.

If you’re still on the fence about Riddick, check out the trailer below:

517869019 2 570 411 Riddick Review

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Riddick runs 119 minutes and is Rated R for strong violence, language and some sexual content/nudity. Now playing in regular and IMAX theaters.

Let us know what you thought of the film in the comment section below. If you’ve seen the movie and want to discuss details about the film without worrying about spoiling it for those who haven’t seen it, please head over to our Riddick Spoilers Discussion.

For an in-depth discussion of the film by the Screen Rant editors check back soon for our Riddick episode of the SR Underground podcast.

Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick for future reviews, as well as movie, TV, and gaming news.

Our Rating:

3.5 out of 5
(Very Good)

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TAGS: chronicles of riddick, riddick

89 Comments

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  1. Found it to be average and I am a fan of Riddick and Vin Diesel.

    • I actually thought the movie was kind of bad, and I also am a fan of the Riddick series. Loved the video games, watched both movies and the animated movie, but this one I didn’t really like. I think they really overplayed the whole “Riddick” is bad ass thing a bit too much in this one. They did all of the cliché movie bad ass things like setting your own broken bone, cauterizing wounds, etc. just a little too much. There were too many “cool” slow motion shots of Riddick looking cool and doing cool things, and I just found the whole thing with him talking about going “balls deep” into that butch woman a little awkward… And honestly, a little too much set-up, and a little too much narration…

      The other Riddick movies were good because the action and the way the fights turned out showed how cool he was. In this one it seemed like they kept on trying to remind you that he’s cool and it got kind of annoying…

      • You really seem to have a very candid style of getting to the point. I say ‘seem’ because I haven’t seem the film, but that aside, I get what you saw.

  2. More Pitch Black than Chronicles of Riddick … and I was thankful for that.

    • ^ AGREE!

  3. Was going to give this the DVD shoulder….. however I am enthused by this review and as such I shall petition the wife for an access pass (i.e. MONEY) and have a nice weekend evening out.

    • @Jonathan

      I honestly don’t think your wife will enjoy the movie. If anything, it’s a straight up guy’s movie and at times it kind of seems too obvious, which kind of made it annoying for me…

      • Well she really likes Pitch Black and Chronicles. She also likes Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters (laughed her head off) so she’s alright with violence, she’s not too keen on…. mean-ness.

        Think the Comedian shooting his pregnant Vietnamese “lover” (she didn’t like Watchmen at all), so as long as it’s not constantly blokey crude, you know unnecessarily sexually derogatory she can handle it.

        If there’s a lot of “crudeness” then I’ll wait for DVD and see.

        And as I said she likes Hansel & Gretel so she’s got no problem with “obvious”.

        • As a female fan, I really enjoyed the movie and so did my sister. It was exactly what we wanted it to be. More Pitch black than Chronicles, action and scifi mixed. I didn’t find it crude, found parts of it funny (it was supposed to be rather than ridiculous) and parts I had to close my eyes at. Overall, if your wife is a fan of the previous ones, she will love this one as well.

          • Cheers Tia, guess we’re going :)

          • ^agree

        • Huh, I didn’t think Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters was a very obviously guy’s movie. Anyway I enjoyed the violence in this one and I was okay with the jokes made at Dahl’s expense at first. Then I got a bit tired of the rape comments and how Dahl who starts off as a lesbian turns straight for Riddick’s dick (I’m laughing at my own pun now). So it depends on what sort of jokes your wife likes.

          • Just got back. Wife enjoyed it although she did feel the language was a bit excessive but also mostly unnecessary, so yes that was a bit of a down.

            Didn’t like it when the dingo was killed, so reminded us of our own dog.

            • I agree with all of this. Regardless of whether or not people talk like that (and I personally do talk like that in certain situations), it felt like the filmmakers were partially justifying the rating by dropping unnecessary f-bombs left and right. Strategic f-strikes are so much more satisfying, not to mention less distracting.

              As soon as the dingo was introduced, I knew it was going to get killed as a cheap shot to win our sympathies. I would have been much happier had it not been introduced at all!

      • My wife usually doesn’t like these types of movies, however she really loved the movie, up to point where the bounty hunters landed. Then she said that the story and acting went downhill fast. Overall she enjoyed the story.

  4. Hey Jonathan, why don’t you ask your wife for your b@lls back while you are at it?

    • I was going to make a like minded comment.

    • Obviously someone who’s never been married would make such a dumb comment. Manly Man I suggest you do some turning 18 and after you’ve had a healthy relationship not based on domination roles come back and feel free to tell us how to do it right, ok?!

      • PhilN, relax. Oh and get your balls back from your wife.

      • +10000000000000000000000000000000000000000!

      • Having to ask your wife pretty please for a movie night sounds like a healthy relationship without domination roles to you? To each his own I guess, but having a replacement mom isn’t my idea of a healthy marriage. Obviously I’m dumb that way, because I was never married either, and if that’s the inevitable outcome of getting married I don’t want to anyway. ;)

    • lol

      I earn it, she spends it, way of the world, besides there are perks.

      And the point is that’s she’ll be attending too…..

      And on the b@lls front she can keep them, she does “interesting” things with them….

      • WELL SAID.

      • +1000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000!!!!!!

      • Hmmm – I’m really not into gender stereotypes; Some women like to be dominating, and vice versa. My best mate’s marriage is one of the most fair things I’ve seen in my life, they talk it through, but there’s no one side domination.
        If you like asking your wife for permission whenever you want to do something, thats up to you, and I respect that, but don’t load that kind of thing on me or others by saying its ‘normal’, when its just a stereotype.
        For me, if I’m with a woman, and she’s bossy like that, that’s my signal to tell her she aint the boss and neither am I. If she doesn’t like that, then I’m the hell outta there – and yes I’m experienced with these kind of things.
        If I wanna go do something that she wants to join in on, so be it. If she doesn’t wanna do it, then I go do it myself or with friends. Joined at the hip relationships are unhealthy, marriage or not.
        If you like that, go ahead, just don’t load it on everyone else.

    • I’m sure there is plenty of irony behind the name “Manly Man”. Childish comment.

      • Asking my wife for permission is how I keep my balls attached in the first place. You’ll learn Manly Man… and if you don’t… you’ll stay single and to spare the well being of one possibly unlucky female, that might not be a bad thing. Enjoy the movie.

        • lol

          I feel like Captain America….. married men of the world UNITE… Husbands Assemble…. :)

          • Always fear your wife. She has the power to destroy you.

            • ^AGREE

        • +100000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

          And I’m not even married…

    • Ha, sweet! What a puss,

    • Wow that line was old in the 80s.Please dust of a few more give us a laugh.

    • Is your name ManlyMan or ForeverSingleMan???

  5. Saw this last night and I found it surprisingly good. I am glad they went back to the whole “Pitch Black” feel. VD was great and the story, although had issues, felt like it moved at a good pace. It’s a good popcorn flick like a Pacific Rim, Expendables type of movie(good on action, just average on script/storyline)

  6. Great review Ben! You are spot on as usual. I was afraid this movie would get butchered by everyone. This movie actually surprised me of how good it was. It definitely wins most bad ass movie of the year. Can’t wait until the podcast!

  7. I was on the fence. Not anymore. I’ll be watching this next week.

  8. Review’s good. Gonna give this a go.

  9. Your review Ben has me interested in this and this looks better than expected.
    I have not seen the prior Riddick films but that should not matter too much.

    Katee Sackhoff has proved she can act on the show Longmire.
    She has played enough of these Starbuck types and at this point.

  10. It’s good. Like Fast & Furious 6, it knows what the audience wants and delivers it well. Admittedly, it doesn’t get Pitch Black-y until the final third of the film, but the first two thirds are more than entertaining enough, with Riddick adapting to the new planet and taking on the bounty hunters. As far as plot goes, there’s not many twists which’ll seriously surprise you (although there’s a pleasant subversion of what I was expecting near the end), but you don’t exactly expect a movie like Riddick to be seriously surprising.

    The only major criticism I have of the film is that the main heroine, Dobbs, really isn’t very interesting/likeable. On the plus side, she’s not nearly as prominent as the teasers/plot summary would lead us to believe.

    I’d give it maybe an 8/10, around what I gave the original Pitch Black.

    • “although there’s a pleasant subversion of what I was expecting near the end.” I agree with you there.

      And just for the sake of saying, her name was Dahl, not Dobbs.

  11. I was expecting it to be ok like the other films, glad to hear that its actually pretty good. im a pitch black fan more than a Chronicles fan (though chronicles was better on second viewing) so i was always optimistic about this film. glad to hear that it does actually connect to the rest of the world set up in chronicles, even if its mostly in the beginning. Probably wont be seeing it in theaters (in school so moneys a little tight) but will definitely be getting it on dvd, probably the directors cut like the first two.

  12. I saw this in a screening the other day and I’ll have to disagree with the review. Thought this was a pretty poor addition to the series. I just found that they REALLY overplayed the whole “look how cool Riddick is” thing throughout the movie. Complete with slow motion walking scenes (with a cape no less) and watch as he fixes his own wounds in great detail scenes (yes, more than once…).

  13. SR is hit and miss lately with it’s reviews so I’m skipping a theater viewing of this altogether based on my gut instinct, the trailers were filled with terrible acting and “Priest-Like” CGI.

    I’m interested in what Kofi Outlaw thought of ‘Riddick’

    • FYI: We’re talking about it right now on the podcast and both Rob and Kofi enjoyed the film – for, in general, the same reasons I did.

      Movies are subjective so your gut instinct could be spot on for you but it sounds like the Screen Rant team is on the same page with this one.

  14. Wow wasn’t expecting this to be good at all. Might give it a shot in a couple of weeks now.

  15. I really liked this. Not only was it bad @$$, but there were some moments (especially toward the end) that got my feels going. Also, I thought it was very well acted from everyone.

  16. Ben, you seem a little too nice or diplomatic with your reviews these days. A lot of 3.5 stars lately. I’m usually more interested in the podcast discussions anyway. I really liked the first 2 Riddick movies but this one looks kinda dumb and too over-the-top.

    • Not sure what you mean. I have 2 3.5s in the last couple weeks but that doesn’t really mean that I’m being easy or diplomatic – or that 3.5 is a default for me. Two weeks ago, I got called a snob for being too hard on The World’s End (because it got a 3.5). I’ve handed out more 3s (and 2s) than 3.5s lately. Most of my 3.5s are big summer movies that were entertaining – even if they were somewhat flawed.

      All I can say, having seen all of the movies that I reviewed, I felt like some of them were “pretty good.” ;)

      • Well, it is part of your job on the podcast to be the moderator and I think this translates into your reviews as well. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing at all ;) If you guys are the Beatles, Ben is the “Diplomatic One” :)

        • Fair enough. I am the diplomatic one on the podcast for sure but I write the reviews long before I have to play that role ;) I definitely don’t approach the written reviews from the same place – since my job on the podcast is a different animal.

          I just try to approach my written reviews as impartial as possible – maybe they don’t hammer as many nitpicks but I still think, if you look at all of my reviews across the board, that the scores are pretty evenly distributed (and using the full scale).

    • Ben is always consistent with his assessments of movies
      and always the gentleman even when he does not like one.

      I will see this because of Ben’s review and I had not intended to.

      • Laugh out loud.

        • You go right ahead and laugh your little self silly.

  17. I challenge Ben Kendrick to write a film review without using the words “beat” or “beats.” I await your acceptance….

    • Challenge accepted!

      • The use of the word beats, the way you did in this review
        (character beats) Ben, is not a use I have encountered very
        frequently and it is an inventive and effective use of the word.
        The somewhat unusual use does highlight attention to the word.

  18. I will say, for any who merely saw the Chronicles of Riddick in theaters, you’re not being fair. The directors cut was a BILLION times better, the company producing it simply did not want to back the further ideas of the director because they didn’t want to invest in any more sequels. I do not like the theatrical version, but the directors cut is an outstanding movie. Worthy of some sci fi respect.

  19. This movie can be simply reviewed as disappointing. Moments were ok, but the movie over all missed what makes this story great.

    I believe I’ve cracked the code to the Riddick:
    He’s a secretly system administrator who hates and avoids people and doesn’t like to follow the rules yet finds ways to inject himself in everyone business to eventually make everyone around dependant on him to get through the day…..just like A-hole IT people at my work.

    So, I’m thinking we’re all going to find that this whole Riddick story is actually a day dream of a sys admin while in some boring HR meeting :)

  20. Good, positive review, Ben K! I liked it and hope that more of ScreenRant will follow this style.. or, maybe, you just speak my language, ha ha.

    Personally, I can’t imagine Riddick failing, the Riddick anti-hero is probably the best at being consistently enigmatic.. except, perhaps, Xavier Bardom’s Bond and Coen roles.. which were totally boss.

    None of the limited trailers have disappointed but the ultimate exchange will be the actual film, so we’ll see.

  21. Seriously, save your money & wait till the movie goes on DVD, Netflix, etc. Peeps left the theater disappointed. The plot was boring & non-engaging. At times, the f-bomb was over used–was waiting for real dialog. My favorite character was dingo’s (the ‘pet dog’)–his role was the most believable.

  22. Man I hope your 3 1/2 stars are out of 10. Dialogue is horrible with B movie quality acting. The CGI looks like something I did on Windows Movie Maker. I went to see Riddick the bad ass, not Riddick the dog whisperer.

    What really offended me is that they used Karl Urban’s name for this film. He is in it for what, fifteen seconds?

  23. Cheesy, lackluster and disappointing, which was the feeling shared by the majority of the audience that viewed it here. Pitch Black had serious scare moments and this film seemed like a retread of various parts of other movies. The characters were contrived and the acting was terrible . I had heard that Vin Diesel tried to save this movie. He did not succeed. Wait for DVD.

  24. I went with my boys,even though it was R, I am pretty permissive given what they are subjected too now a days and them drinking to much, would like to be there to explain things instead of ignoring it. I was pleasantly surprised and liked the shift back towards its Pitch Black roots (maybe even a little too similar) I enjoyed the movie as did the boys and the only downer was the Dingo dog getting killed, made a good side kick for Riddick and maybe could have stuck around for the inevitable next movie because the mutt did add to the story and was overall smarter than the Merc’s, oh well.
    Wasn’t a GREAT movie except when you compare it to the forgettable schlock movies this summer. Some so memorable I have to look them up to remind myself that I actually saw them, not kidding! So Riddick was great only by comparison and it succeeded greatly by at least not being a complete disappointment. Sad that one’s criteria for rating movie includes how crappy the competition has become. Lol Using that Riddick could be an Oscar contender (not! Iam just kidding)

  25. Best Riddick movie ever!! :)

  26. i really like the character riddick.and i enjoyed pitched black back in the day.chronicles was ok…but this movie!? get the hell outa here…it was horrible.and freakin boring,and no story at all.nothing happens.first 30 minutes is riddick roaming around,playing with his dog,and kills like 2 or 3 scorpion looking creatures in the mostboring way. then mercenaries show up.and what happens? its them arguing like,the entire time.so boring,so stupid.such a slap to the whole story.they shoulda written something else like, him still being the ruler,and other planets going to war with him, and necromongers trying to overthrow riddick. the guy who plays bones,and judge dredd,who was also in chronnicles would have been the perfect villian for this movie….but no.we were given crap.any1 who likes this movie or dares to say its “not that bad” is insane or in denial

    • You’re allowed to have you’re opinion but don’t attack other people just because they have the opposite point view…..we’re allowed to like movies you may hate and we’re allowed to say how awesome we think they are

      • …..the movie still sux…

    • They want to make that kind of movie for the next one. Due to lack of budget, they had to go back to simple roots for this one.

  27. just saw it earlier and i loved it!!

  28. everyone seems to have watched a totally different film to me. it was dull right from the start,the acting was awful and the only good part of it they killed off. before watching this i hadn’t seen the other film and now im not sure i want to either

  29. Riddick was a let down. I felt riddick completly neglected riddicks furyan heritage. What happened to the energy blast previously seen in butcher bay or chronicles directors cut? I personally felt that riddick would have been much better solely as a survival movie rather than a sort of redemption story by becoming civilized.

    • thank you caz.e and jared. you two have a brain.this movie was complete garbage.i still like pitched black. this movie was just a really bad ,and boring version of pitched black.