Movies

Peter Suderman Reviews Riddick

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Radar Pictures/One Race Films

After a summer of cinematic excess, Riddick, the third installment in Vin Diesel's intermittent sci-fi action franchise, is a welcome reminder that bigger is not always better: 

"Riddick" is many things: a surprisingly solid sci-fi B-movie, a showcase for the limited but real talents of star Vin Diesel, a relatively bright note after a summer of disappointing genre films. But more than anything, it's a lesson in the virtues of going small.

The trend in effects-driven blockbusters over the last few years has been toward the gargantuan: giant robots, giant ships, giant battles, giant destruction and, most of all, giant stakes. The risk with this approach is that the characters get lost in endless struggles to save the world, and the eternal bigness becomes monotonous. When everything's giant, nothing is.

"Riddick" is an antidote to all that. The brawny space-adventurer's third outing is a stripped-down, human-scale story about one guy fighting a couple of other guys. There are alien monsters, guns and bounty hunters. The primary goal for just about everyone involved is to stay alive.

That's a marked and welcome departure from the last installment, 2004's "Chronicles of Riddick," a bloated big-budget space opera that attempted to saddle its title character with a Dungeons & Dragons manual's worth of incomprehensible fantasy lore. And it's a much-needed return to the sort of vicious, small-scale mayhem that made Riddick's first appearance, 2000's "Pitch Black," such a blast.

Read the whole review in The Washington Times

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  1. How the hell can I get eyes like that??

    1. Got 20 Menthol Kools?

    2. If I recall correctly you have to buy them from some prison doctor for some smokes. Add some candy bars to the smokes however, and it’s some other kind of eye that you are purchasing….

      1. But he was actually born with them! Furyan eyes!

    3. Last time I went to For Eyes they had a variety of novelty contact lenses.

  2. Since Zack Snyder sucks and will make a shitty movie anyway, I say cast Vin Disel as Lex Luthor. He looks the part and he sounds a lot like Clancy Brown, so why not?

    1. …he sounds a lot like Clancy Brown…

      My cut has improved your voice.

      1. Weird, I just read that in some odd Swiss/French accent.

        1. You should be reading it in the voice of an actor playing an Egyptian disguising himself as a Spaniard who can’t be bothered to talk in anything but a Scottish accent.

    2. That does raise the intriguing question of what a Zack Nyder movie would be like if the studio suits abandoned the pretense of corralling him with story and character requirements.

      Would it be three solid hours of slow motion explosions? Would it be a 14-year-old’s wet dream of big-titted robot ninja warriors fighting big-titted alien assassins to the strain of Korn? Would it be even gayer than 300?

      One thing we know for sure is that nobody would survive an attempt to watch it, but it would still gross $200 mil.

      1. Wait…Zack Snyder directed the new Star Trek movies?

        1. JJ Abrams is incredibly derivative in his fixation on the tropes of Spielberg and Lucas, but at least he understands the fundamentals of film making.

          Snyder apparently thinks that loud, colorful noises can replace an actual story.

          1. So it’s kinda like Michael Bay with substitutes for explosions?

            1. Military Leader: Those are not ideas, those are special effects.

              Michael Bay: I don’t see the difference.

              Military Leader: I KNOW YOU DON’T.

            2. Michael Bay doesn’t suck the life out of his movies by trying to trap his characters into some bizarre cinematic mausoleum.

              Really, I don’t want to see the style of a graphic novel on screen, it drowns out the characters when you get lost in visuals. That’s why Watchmen was mediocre in spite of it already having a great story and great characters and good to decent actors.

              1. That’s why Watchmen was mediocre

                The movie was better then the comic.

                It dropped that whole pirate comic story line and the kid reading them at the news stand also the ending was better.

                1. It dropped that whole pirate comic story line and the kid reading them at the news stand

                  No, they just saved it for the director’s cut, which I thought was way better than the theatrical release. Although at 215 minutes, it’s obvious why they cut down.

      2. Isn’t that basically what they did in Suckperpunch (never saw it).

        And 300 wasn’t gay.

        1. 300 was extremely gay and there’s nothing wrong with that.

          And yes, Sucker Punch was Snyder unleashed and it sucked beyond belief. It sucked hard enough to rip the fabric of space and time.

          1. How do you make a movie with several hot girls having some kind of dream adventure suck? Snyder found a way.

          2. I’ve seen Sucker Punch in bits, totally out of order while channel surfing. Some visually arresting compositions but the chicks never get topless, much less naked-if it had that nobody would’ve cared about the twisted, incomprehensible plot.

            1. It’s basically the experience of watching someone else play a poorly-written videogame.

              1. No it is like watching someone else play a poorly written video game that has a hidden feminist message.

                And that message is men are evil and oppressing women when they play video games that feature female characters not per-approved by the feminist intelligentsia.

                I am not even kidding about this….that is literally the massage of the movie.

            2. If you want to see Emily Browning naked she did a movie called Sleeping Beauty

              Artsy and turgid, but she does get neeked for the camera.

          3. Sucker Punch was the biggest let-down of all time. Mostly absurdly hot female cast should’ve kept my attention, but the unbearable story turned me off than the women could turn me on.

            OT: “Cabin in the Woods” or whatever directed by Joss Whedon was a very pleasant surprise. Very good, for a horror film.

            1. My friend had to sort of twist my arm to get me to watch Cabin in the Woods, but it was great. Whedon does good stuff.

              1. Yeah, he’s pretty much great at everything he does. I haven’t seen anything he’s done that I don’t like yet, at least. Except maybe the second season of Dollhouse, but that’s mostly because of its cancellation, I think.

                1. What I’ve seen of Whedon’s stuff is just plain fun. It isn’t deep, or profound, , preachy, or terribly innovative. It’s just crisp and well put together and entertaining. And probably most importantly, it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Which is nice.

                2. Yeah, he’s pretty much great at everything he does.

                  “Do you know what happens to a toad when it is stuck by lighting?”

                  Also Buffy sucked.

          4. Sucker Punch is a movie that is really about MK Ultra.

            Apparently.

            So it does still suck, kinda, it sucks in a really interesting way instead of the mundane way you thought it sucked this morning.

        2. 300 would have been a lot gayer if Snyder wanted to be historically accurate.

          Pederasty was very common in Ancient Greece, including Sparta.

          1. Not to mention Spartan’s soldiers were coupled into sex partner’s as part of their loyalty to one another. That may have been just Athenian propaganda though.

            1. Partners needs no apostrophe there.

            2. Thucydides is very clear that the Spartans spent many an evening washing and combing each others’ hair after a hard day of killing Persians.

              1. There is a black and white art film forming in my head. Spartan soldier, Sappho, and a bowl of pudding slowly consumed between the two. He’s a gay illiterate barbarian, she’s a refined poet. The conversation is very awkward as the two have nothing in common, but a love of pudding.

                1. So exactly like My Dinner with Andre, except in black and white?

                  1. Wait, someone was gay in My Dinner? I did not catch on to that.

            3. The pair bonding thing sounds more like the Theban Sacred Band, the one established by Gorgidas. AFAIK the Spartans did believe that accepting an older veteran warrior’s sperm would make you a better fighter.

            4. That is not true.

              They were Thebian soldiers and they were already gay and had a partner before they were put into the gay troop.

              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sacred_Band_of_Thebes

              Greeks tolerated homosexuality…it was usually in the form of man boy love.

              Why people have to take this fact and say stuff like “They were all gay” is beyond reason.

          2. It really wasn’t Snyder being historically inaccurate, it was Frank Miller. Snyder basically copied the novel scene for scene. Which is fine, but I don’t really know how much credit you can give Snyder for that movie.

        3. 300 was homoerotic to the core. When Sexier Maximus throws the courier into the well, it was a metaphor for the dark pit of AIDS.

            1. Exactly. Every modern movie is a metaphor for the Dark Age of the 1980s.

        4. Just because 300 was full of greased up, muscle bound men wearing little more than speedos, grunting and screaming and shit, doesn’t make it gay.

          Although I’m not really sure how that *doesn’t” make it gay…

          1. Don’t forget the scenes where they were jostling in close quarters and thrusting their big spears at each other.

            100% hetero right there.

      3. That does raise the intriguing question of what a Zack Nyder movie would be like if the studio suits abandoned the pretense of corralling him with story and character requirements.

        Just watch Suckerpunch to find out.

    3. 300 was great.

      1. Because you were able to relieve your throbbing warboner for five minutes?

        1. Nuh uh – it was TEN whole minutes!

  3. Now what would be the odds of that?

  4. a bloated big-budget space opera that attempted to saddle its title character with a Dungeons & Dragons manual’s worth of incomprehensible fantasy lore

    But… but… that’s the necromonger way!

    1. Yje second movie pretty much borrowed the Warhammer universe aesthetics, but I have to say, it was not terrible, just not exceptionally cool like Pitched Black. It’s a shame it took so long to get back to that, as the milieu was a great alternative to space marines and public sector command structures that dominate science fiction cinema.

      1. ‘Yje’ — my Elder Gods to English translator is malfunctioning.

      2. You know what we need? Some actual Warhammer 20k movies. That’s what CGI was made for.

        1. 40k*

        2. James Sparrows’ Warhammer Nemesis would be an excellent start for a movie platform. Dark humor, epic action and skulduggery where the political enemies conspire together like throw momma from the train to destroy each others internecine rivals. I’d really be up for that.

  5. And it’s a much-needed return to the sort of vicious, small-scale mayhem that made Riddick’s first appearance, 2000’s “Pitch Black,” such a blast.

    Thank you. It wasn’t cinematic genius by any stretch, but it was solid sci-fi action/horror schlock. A shadow of Alien, to be sure, but better than a lot of the forgettable dross flying the sci-fi horror flag.

    1. I have on numerous occasions described Pitch Black as “kind of like the best SyFy original movie you could possibly imagine.” Riddick fits that description pretty well too.

      1. Since we’re not getting Firefly back, I’ll take a SyFy film over laughably avant-garde budget-busting holiday moneymakers (Prometheus, sadly), or retreads of Event Horizon, or indistinguishable eco-disasters.

        Except this.

        1. gahh Prometheus gahhhh….

          1. Right? I kept trying to force it to make sense until my mind just sort of shut down. Oh, yeah… run away from the rolling ship in the direction it’s rolling… ah, durr…

            1. Something Freudian along the lines of a deathwish being instinctual, maybe? There was a kind of enforced morality going on in the movie based on an anti-longevity creed. I took it to mean, (in the logic of the movie, not mine), when you try to selfishly extend your own time away from what is rightfully that of Fate, your own instincts turn against you, and you wind up doing stupid shit that enforces the prerogative of the species in spite of your wishes.

              1. Or it was just a poorly-written mess. 🙂

                1. SF gets it.

              2. Yeah but the heroic people who accept their fate die also.

        2. Holy fuck I just read the plot synopsis from that link. Good fucking God, it’s like the retarded offspring of Jaws and Twister that they keep locked in their attic and never speak of.

          1. Snarknado? Oh, its out there man.

          2. You never heard of Sharknado!?!?! Are you deaf and dumb?

            1. Some of us don’t use Twitter, Cyto.

            2. I had heard of it, I just hadn’t seen it and didn’t realize it was THAT stupid. I mean, I figured it was stupid, but holy shit.

            3. I had heard of it, I just hadn’t seen it and didn’t realize it was THAT stupid. I mean, I figured it was stupid, but holy shit.

          3. You think Sharknado was bad? They’re working on one called Ghost Shark. It’s about a dead shark that comes back as a ghost and begins attacking people on land, but only if they’re wet.

        3. Event Horizon scared me shitless.

    2. David Twohy has delivered some surprisingly good, watchable movies. Besides Pitch Black, there are The Arrival (with Charlie Sheen!) and Below, which was a pretty engrossing for a haunted submarine movie. I like his work in general.

  6. Pitch Black is probably about as good a sci-fi B-movie as you’ll find. Glad to hear the new one is more in that vein than the dreadful Chronicles.

    1. Yeah, Pitch Black was OK. But from the previews, this one looks pretty much exactly like Pitch Black.

      1. Yeah but it has Starbuck and aliens that look like The Alien in it.

    2. The Kevin McCarthy Invasion of the Body Snatchers was a good sci-fi B movie. So was the George Sanders Village of the Damned. Both show that having a good story is much more important than special effects.

    3. Pitch Black

      Young and lithe Claudia Black, mmmmmmmmm. Even pre-eyebrow pluck.

    4. The first Alien was a b-movie.

      as was John Carpenters The Thing.

      Both are miles better then Pitch Black.

  7. Limited talents? Someone didn’t see The Boiler Room. (He was in that, right?)

    1. As usual, you’re thinking of Ben Affleck.

      1. You misspelled Batman.

        1. And now I’m thinking about MATT DAMON!

    2. He was sniped in Saving Private Ryan, right?

      1. I’ve only seen the first thirty odd minutes of that, caught passing by on someone’s laptop. There was a guy in my circle of friends at the time it came out who had a huge boner for everything WW2, and if I saw it in the theater he would have been there to, annoying the hell out of me, so passed it up.

        1. Saving Private Ryan was a legitimately good movie. I usually hate Tom Hanks, too.

          1. There is also the promise I made to myself after seeing Chapman. As Angry Redneck God is my witness, I will never watch another serious movie about serious subjects again. Though, I soon broke that with Waco: Rules of Engagement.

            I think the upcoming Hanks movie looks interesting.

      2. He was sniped in Saving Private Ryan, right?

        Anyone else get the feeling that Spielberg killed him off early while they were still filming because he did not like him?

        His character is treated like an idiot and the build up to his death is almost none existent….i can’t even remember him in earlier scenes. It was like suddenly his character appeared into the movie out of nowhere only to die 3 min later.

    3. Knockaround Guys, Saving Private Ryan, and LEST WE FORGET, Tokyo Drift

      1. He also did an off-beat courtroom comedy called Find Me Guilty that was okay. It also had Peter Dinklage in it.

        1. Find Me Guilty was probably Vin Diesels finest acting.

    4. He was great in a short he wrote and directed.

      http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0226168/

  8. This is a repost from this AM.

    Anybody see this?

    The Star Wars’ that almost was

    An Empire has spread across the galaxy, and the few remaining Jedi defend themselves against the Sith. At the same time, a dispute over trade and treaties is interrupted by … General Luke Skywalker?

    A little confused?

    That’s because these familiar elements from “Star Wars” lore are part of George Lucas’ rough draft for the first movie (“Episode IV: A New Hope” for the uninitiated), illustrated for the first time by Dark Horse Comics as “The Star Wars.” The first of eight issues of the comic book series is out now.

    1. You can’t deny Lucas has made the cinema a better place, but his ideas are just a hodgepodge of the inspired and the what-the-fuck.

      The reason the original Star Wars turned out as good as they did was because he had other writers and directors polish his ideas. With the prequels he was surrounded by studio sycophants.

      1. The reason the original Star Wars turned out as good as they did was because he had other writers and directors polish his ideas.

        I thought he wrote all three. If he had co-writers they must have gone uncredited. And the only one he didn’t direct was Empire, which explains why it’s the best of the whole saga. I think a large reason why the originals are so much better is that his ex-wife edited them and managed to fix his shitty directing.

        1. Lucas would write the original stories and then get input and screenplay drafts from other writers.

          This is much more apparent in Empire, who’s screenplay was written by Lawrence Kasden and Leigh Bracaket. That’s why the dialogue is noticeably better than any other Star Wars movie.

        2. A New Hope was the only film he was the solely credited screenwriter. He had to do a lot of rewrites and studio executives were breathing down his back not to mention his buddies helped him out. Apparently Brian DePalma wrote the opening scroll of ANH.

          1. You are correct. I did a google search for “Star Wars co-writers” and found this.

          2. I wonder if they’ll ever get around to making the first 3 episodes?

    2. a dispute over trade and treaties is interrupted

      Lucas cribbed from the rough draft to A New Hope for the awful, convoluted plot of Phantom Menace?

      I think Mr. Plinkett is right, all of the memorable content from the original trilogy was content scoured of Lucas’ fingerprints.

      1. I recall the original idea of the Empire was that the evil merchants overthrew the Republic and installed their puppet Emperor. The latter was ditched obviously while we saw elements of the former in the Phantom Menace.

  9. Pitch Black is low-budget fun, Chronicles is stupid fantasy fun, Escape from Butcher Bay is a kickass game. I am glad that the consensus so far is that this is not terrible, which means I’ll probably find it fun. And it’s not 2 1/2 hours long!

    1. EBB is really a good game? Interesting. Would not have guessed.

      1. Yep, very good. It was a surprise to everyone, I think, but it was a game with greater stealth and shooter dynamics.

  10. I thought Riddick was alright and kinda cool but it just didn’t work as a sequel to Pitch Black, which was damn good.

    Another really good horror film: The Descent. Catfight in the cave!

    1. Saw parts. Not bad. Kind of difficult to picture the women crawling around blind in those caves though.

    2. The Descent freaked me the hell out. If I was a caver, I wouldn’t be any more after seeing that.

  11. “That’s a marked and welcome departure from the last installment, 2004’s “Chronicles of Riddick,” a bloated big-budget space opera that attempted to saddle its title character with a Dungeons & Dragons manual’s worth of incomprehensible fantasy lore”

    And you expect us to believe that you didn’t use this metaphore becuase he is one of the only actors on record as being a big time D&D player?

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