It’s been thirteen years since a low budget science fiction film shot in Queensland, Australia, stunned viewers across the world with its bold and uncompromising vision of the future, seen through the enhanced eyes of a convicted murderer who escaped from the confines of his cryostasis when the ship transferring him when it was struck by cometary debris and crashlanded on a desert planet inhabited solely by nocturnal alien predators. In his third cinematic outing, once again written and directed by David Twohy, Vin Diesel has returned to the role that made him an international star as we prepare for another encounter with Riddick, the last of the Furyans.
Michael Flett – It’s been nine years since Richard B Riddick unexpectedly inherited the throne of the Lord Marshall of the Necromongers, and for the longest part of that time we thought we would never see him again, such was the critical and commercial mauling the second volume of The Chronicles of Riddick received, but I loved it from the first time I saw it, one of the most ambitious and daring science fiction films I can think of, the designs of the sets and costumes alone setting it far above anything in the same genre. Of course, ambition and daring don’t always sell to the multiplex crowd, especially the action fans, who apparently didn’t know what to make of it.
It’s back to basics for Riddick, and the first full trailer looks like a combination of Pitch Black and Chronicles in that we have creatures in the dark and there is also a strong bounty hunter presence inheriting the role the mercs took in the second, but hopefully it will find its own voice and be something new, as different from each of its predecessors as Chronicles was to Pitch Black.
One of the things I loved about the Riddick films is their use of colour – Pitch Black made a limited budget look a lot more exotic by applying different filters for each of the three stars of the system, and David Twohy has returned to that saturated desert feel here. It won’t have the production design or scope of Chronicles, which I think is the most astonishing looking film since David Lynch’s Dune, but it still manages to feel like part of the same universe.
Certainly the creatures seem better realised than in Pitch Black – computer graphics have come a long way since the Hunter-Gratzner fell out of the sky – and one of the bounty hunters is apparently a Necromonger, just check out the weaponry and the armour, even the knife. The planet looks suitably fierce, and the level of tech is in keeping with the previous films.
It’s great to see Katee Sackhoff, who I know will be good, she always is, even in White Noise 2, I just hope they give her something worthwhile to do, but where is Karl Urban? We know he’s in it, but will Lord Vaako only be a supporting role? Removed from the machinations of Lady Vaako, I would expect him to be a more loyal servant.
My hopes for the film is that it matches the ambition and scope of the previous, but that it finds its audience more swiftly rather than recouping costs on home media. Rumour has we will end up on Furya, so hopefully this is only a portion of the film and none of the third act has been shown here. My fear is that it will be a shallow retread, playing to the cheap seats.
Something else I hope they will maintain is the rule of no romantic entanglements – twice they’ve paired him with a strong female companion, Fry and Kyra, and neither did the story push them somewhere that felt shoehorned in. Riddick should be alone. Although personally I’ve always felt the reason those relationships never progressed in the way that most Hollywood actioners do is that Riddick was paired with women, when Lord Vaako was a much more interesting and suitable partner.
Brian Robinson – Production value has improved and it looks like it kicks a bit more ass than the last film but at the same time it just looks like a retread of Pitch Black only with extra bounty hunters, so it’s disappointing in that regard. But who knows how much of the story we’ve been teased with – I’m hearing rumours we may head back to Furya itself in the film. And Karl Urban is also back as Lord Vaako.
Adam Dworak – I’ve never been a fan of the acting logs, Jean Claude Van Damme, Dwayne Johnson, Vin Diesel – they look like they’re carved from tree trunks and they act like they’re made of wood, but there was something interesting in Riddick.
The first one achieved a lot for a low budget bug hunt movie, but the second became much more interesting by its similarity to Lynch’s Dune, one of my favourite films. It looked like Dune, the set design and the costumes, it felt like Dune, but Chronicles didn’t have the depth – instead of feeling old and authentic, Helion Prime and the Necromonger Basilica felt like they had been put together for that specific story rather than being real worlds where the story took place.
When I heard they were making a third one, I was sure they were going to continue the developments of Chronicles, allowing it to grow and evolve, that maybe we would be able to see Riddick not as a wanted criminal and a public enemy but as the chosen one, if not quite the hero, but after seeing this trailer I see that they are serving me Pitch Black 2.
Almost every element of the trailer is lifted from Pitch Black. I could quote Leonard McCoy – Are you out of your mind? You have a fantastic world and a fantastic story begging to be developed, and you are just giving a remake of a thirteen year old mediocre film. From the look and style, I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s set on the same planet as Pitch Black.