Film: "Riddick"; Cast: Vin Diesel, Karl Urban, Jordi Molla, Matt Nable, Katee Sackhoff, Bokeem Woodbine, Dave Bautista, Raoul Trujillo, Nolan Gerard Funk and Conrad Pla; Director: David Twohy; Rating: *1/2
Complete with spacecrafts, animals and air-bikes in an arid alien planet, "Riddicka" is Vin Diesel's vulnerable and vain attempt to promote himself as a sci-fic action hero.
It's the story of the anti-hero, a notorious murderer and galactic fugitive Richard Riddick (Vin Diesel).
The film takes off with a vulture like creature circling the sky looking for its prey. And when bird swoops to get its booty, all of a sudden circumstantially, the predator becomes the prey. This introductory shot reveals the survival of the fittest.
From thence, the next thirty minutes trudge to expose Richard Riddick's endurance to survive in this barren wasteland, where he lands up after being deceived by Vaako (Karl Urban). He fends off attacks by stripped wild canines that resemble hyenas and fights carnivorous amphibians reminiscent of giant scorpions.
Riddick makes it out of the barren desert-like landscape after taming the aboriginal canine.
He eventually lands up and seeks refuge in an abandoned outpost. With no other way to escape the inhospitable planet, Riddick activates the beacon device, which alerts two groups of mercenaries.
First to arrive is Santana (Jordi Molla) and his ruffian cronies, who jointly possess more muscle than grey cells. Following them is Johns (Matt Nable) with his crew that includes Dahl (Katee Sackhoff), the only woman among the testosterone-fueled hunters.
Each group has their own plans for Riddick, but with time running out, the stakes are high. Fortunately, Riddick is as unconquerable and unrelenting as ever.
Director Twohy maintains a skillful command of the franchise's narrative template throughout, but misses the opportunity to effectively shade the characters' distinctive dimensionality.
There is abundant action and gore along with a bathing scene to entice the audience, but the narration drags. The pace of the film crawls. The mood and tone darkens as the film progresses. The dialogues that are far between, are sharp and yet redundant.
With great production design and background score, the film lacks visual appeal. The CGI effects are unremarkable and the landscape over a period of time along with the two breeds of animals that dominate the screen time, becomes an eyesore.
Of all the characters, Molla's performance as Santana stands out. Often cartoonish and even comical at times, he breathes the character. Nable as Johns is nothing extraordinary. Sackhoff as the lone woman attracts attention during the few scenes she is visible.
With Riddick as a lone avenging hero, Diesel seems determined and even desperate to convince audiences that he can deliver. But unfortunately, he could not do much to elevate the film. With his slow, muscle-flexing grumpy personality and a dragging narration, the film slumps.