REVIEW: Riddick

"Riddick is deadlier than ever."

8/10

Betrayed by the Necromongers and left for dead on a hostile planet, Riddick enables a distress beacon luring two crews of bounty hunters to him in hopes of securing a ship before the coming storm laced with a deadly alien threat.   

I remember watching PITCH BLACK for the first time and instantly loving Riddick as a new breed of anti-hero.  Vin Diesel brought it and left me wanting more.  CHRONICKLES OF RIDDICK was a much anticipated sequel, and as much as everyone loves to take pot shots at it, I dug it for what it was.  Sure, losing the R rating hurt (Riddick is spelt with a capital R for a reason), but if you take a step back from all three films, the first and third are Riddick VS monsters and bounty hunters, which is cool, but at least CHRONICLES introduces us to a new breed of human monster which adds much needed depth to Riddick’s universe.  Hardcore Riddick fans want to see him tackle the Underverse, so here’s hoping we see that film down the line.  As far as RIDDICK is concerned, the fans will welcome it with open arms.

The first act explores Riddick’s betrayal at the hands of Vaako, which leaves him injured and left for dead on some random alien infested planet.  Riddick re-evaluates his current plight, and reverts back to the primal side we saw in PITCH BLACK.  This is a good thing.  I loved this journey, as well as seeing him be-friend one of the dog-like creatures who helps him hunt (their relationship had a, I AM LEGEND feel to it).  The aliens weren’t anything special, but CGI wasn’t bad and the presentation was decent enough.  The real fun comes when Riddick realizes a storm’s coming that’ll swamp the planet with these creatures (ala nightfall in PITCH BLACK), so he decides to send a distress beacon out in hopes of luring some greedy mercs out for his head.  He isn’t waiting long.

The two mercenary groups are fun to watch.  One group is purely in it for the loot, while the other had a personal agenda with Riddick.  The trailers didn’t do the script justice, because as lame and un-entertaining as it could have been, the back and forth bickering between these two groups was both hilarious and awesome.  Add Riddick and some aliens to the mix, and all hell breaks loose.  I won’t give anything away, but suffice to say, the way it goes down isn’t as ‘play by numbers’ as I expected it to be.

RIDDICK is what it is, a gritty, violent, action piece for Vin Diesel’s prized character.  At no point does this flick try to be anything else (as CHRONICKLES sometimes did), and it works.  Yes, the dialogue feels like an R rated Michael Bay film, but I happen to like Bay’s work, so no complaints there.  Do we need the R rating?  Most definitely.  Riddick should not be confined to PG-13 territory.  Ever.  Diesel fought hard to put this baby out there, rolling the dice with the studios for his cameo appearance in TOKYO DRIFT which earned him the rights to RIDDICK.  He also mortgaged his damn house (this all went down before audiences were wowed by his return to the FF franchise), so to say he really wanted this would be a severe understatement.  He posted a comment on Facebook a while back saying something to the effect of, ‘This year I wanted to do two things; get Letty back and put Riddick back on the big screen.’  He accomplished both, and as far as I’m concerned, did a hell of a great job doing it.  I for one am very happy with Diesel’s continued success and wish him all the best with his future projects. 

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REVIEW: Kick-Ass 2

"I was hoping for more."

6/10

Kick-Ass’ crime fighting exploits have caused more people to suit up and take a bite out of crime, but while Kick-Ass hooks up with a local team of do-gooders, Red Mist turns over a new leaf and plots out a revenge plan that will rip Kick-Ass’ life apart piece by piece. 

We didn’t need a Kick-Ass 2 (which formally had the added tag, Balls to the Wall), but fans of the first one should without a doubt welcome this as a guilty pleasure.  I loved KICK-ASS, but as a comic book genre fan, how could I not love a superhero flick set in R rated territory?  WATCHMEN?  Yes please!  That said, I didn’t read any of the graphic novels, but from what I gather, they’re pretty faithful to the source material.  I do feel the violence was watered down, no doubt mostly due to Jim Carrey’s anti-violence ruckus.  I commend his compassion on the subject, but this movie wasn’t insanely violent, and the violence herein is over-the-top cartoon violence (they blew a dude up with a rocket launcher in the first one for Christ sake).  Did we forget the eighties and nineties?  You want a taste of the old ultra-violence, re-watch COMMANDO, ROBOCOP or TOTAL RECALL.  Now those are violent movies.  This flick, not so much.  And as for Carrey, I love his recent string of cameo appearances, but I’ll be brutally honest here, dude was barely in the movie beyond what was showcased in the trailers, so for him making a big fuss about anything seems in bad taste to me.

Aaron Taylor-Johnson quickly brings Kick-Ass up to speed in the hero department thanks to combat training from Hit-Girl, and man did he ever get jacked!  Say goodbye to the scrawny dude who weighed a buck-o-five in the first movie, he was looking more like Hugh Jackman in WOLVERINE.  Sadly, Kick-Ass is on the opposite end of the spectrum.  He still can’t fight for shit.  I get that they’re going with normal people patrolling the streets as heroes, but other than Hit-Girl, none of them can do...anything.  I don’t know about you, but I unless I was a martial arts expert, boxer, or ultimate fighting champion (ironically enough Chuck Liddell makes a cameo appearance), I wouldn’t risk it.  This theory extends to most of the other ‘heroes’ as well, so don’t expect a full on battle royal as the trailer teases.  Case in point, a chick and her husband join the crew after losing their son, and all she does is hit people with a purse that’s got a brick in it.  Sigh. 

Chloe Grace Moretz is the true star on the hero’s team (when she’s there), and her fast track into High School (a nod at MEAN GIRLS) is all kinds of fun.  And when it comes to nods and winks, there’s more than enough to go around, but the coolest one for Moretz was the date prank that takes a page out of CARRIE—which of course has a reboot coming soon starring Moretz as Carrie.  And then to top it off, she goes to see Kick-Ass right after, and he jumps out of bed wearing an “I hate reboots” T-Shirt.  Priceless.  But the girl power doesn’t stop there, baddie, Mother Russia steals every scene she’s in.  She looks like the chick version of Conan and whoops ass accordingly.  The scene with her and the cops was nuts.

KICK-ASS 2 was disappointing, but it didn’t have to be.  There was all sorts of potential here, but they drowned it in clich├ęs, poor writing and bad ideas.  The Motherfucker?  Really guys, that’s the best you could come up with?  It was nice to see John Leguizamo (where’s that guy been), and I thought he looked good in an action setting, I’d like to see more of that for him.  Sadly, I don’t think we’ll see another Kick-Ass film.  It’s a shame, but I feel the studio tampering this time around killed any chances of them hitting the big screen for a third time.  Nobody seemed overly pumped for this installment going in, and the hype was nothing compared to the first movie.  I love me some R rated comic book action so I’m sad to see this fail, but again, there was no reason for it.  They had plenty of time to make it right so if they couldn’t do it here, there’s no reason to think it would get better with another sequel.  It was a fun ride while it lasted. 




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