So jazzed for this one…and amazed that it finally got made! The journey began almost 14 years ago with 2000’s “Pitch Black”. The character of Riddick soon had a cult following, after that film became a minor mid-winter hit, which enabled star Vin Diesel and director David Twohy to go the big-budget sequel route with 2004’s “The Chronicles of Riddick”. They even managed to get a made-for-DVD animated film produced(voiced by Diesel as Riddick, story by Twohy and directed by the renowned Peter Chung), that acted as a bridge between the two films, and was released just four days after the “Chronicles”. Big problem though…”The Chronicles of Riddick” underperformed. Audiences didn’t know what to make of it, as it was a vast departure from “Pitch Black”. Truth be told…I was quite disappointed myself when I saw it in theaters on opening day in June of 2004. But then…something wonderful happened. A director’s cut was released to DVD that was 16 minutes longer, and fleshed things out a bit more. It sold 1.5 million copies on its first day available. The cult was growing again…and I was sold too. Also, the video game “The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay” became wildly popular, and was widely praised by critics. Still, despite a follow-up game and other Riddick merchandise, greenlighting a third feature was a tough sell for the studio. But Diesel and Twohy kept pushing. So, I guess that I have to express a bit of gratitude to this big moneymaking “Fast & Furious” franchise that I’ve never seen (#6 arrives next week!). Diesel’s success in those movies, made it a helluva lot easier to get “Riddick” to see the light of day. Lower-budgeted and more streamlined than “The Chronicles of Riddick”, 2013’s “Riddick” is currently slated to make it’s North American splash on September 6th. I can barely stand the wait!
And do yourself a favor and check out the oeuvre of it’s mostly unsung director, David Twohy. Besides the 3 Riddick features, he’s also helmed 1996’s well-received “The Arrival” with Charlie Sheen. It’s a forgotten sci-fi gem. Then there’s 2002’s creepy submarine thriller “Below”—praised by many critics, but barely made a dime. Also, check out the fun, twisty “A Perfect Getaway” pot-boiler from 2009. It sports an awesome surprise, and a cast featuring Milla Jovovich and the man we now know as Thor, Chris Hemsworth. Twohy is a criminally-ignored talent…and his canon deserves a much wider audience.