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(Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt was to write a poem phonetically similar to a poem in another language, which was harder than it sounded. I chose the first four stanzas of the Welsh “Stone Poem” by Menna Elfyn. I tried to get it to make sense, but that might depend on the reader’s interpretation.)

Caring draws in foolishness,
While lacking love is power.

Men are gargoyles founded
On cruelty’s fear of cowards.
‘Tis rare, but some have sounded

Warnings, dim and heaved,
Pleading, “These rascals are not ours,”
But they’re demeaned and unbelieved.

The docile manners man the laws,
Which mold the many to the hour.
But men are sure to linger in man’s hardest flaws.
______________________

MPA rating: R

Last year, I ventured into the cutthroat world of Richard B. Riddick, Vin Diesel’s iconic anti-hero from Pitch Black and The Chronicles of Riddick. Considering the latter’s less than favorable reception from critics (I rather liked it myself), it feels like a small miracle that creator David Twohy was able to gain enough traction for a third film nine years later, and indeed he manages to round out the trilogy with possibly its strongest installment.

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The Chronicles of Riddick was both enhanced and muddled by a huge surge of world-building: invading death cult armies, ethereal air people, and the like. Riddick turns its back on all that right from the beginning, and, aside from a cameo from Karl Urban, it might as well have never happened once Riddick is again stranded on an inhospitable alien world. In that sense, it’s practically an alternate version of Pitch Black, except with two shipfuls of disposable bounty hunters (including Matt Nable and Dave Bautista) after Riddick instead of just one man. Oh, and the swarms of killer aliens come out when it rains rather than when night falls.

In some ways, Riddick feels like the franchise treading water, but in others, it’s exactly what made it cool to begin with. Diesel gets to add plenty of badassery to his resumé, from clever survivalist skills to inventive killing methods, and the story lends itself to his laconic character’s show-don’t-tell approach. I also liked how it built upon what happened in Pitch Black and chose an ideal ending, not giving in to the previous films’ tendency of no one but Riddick having a chance at ultimate survival.

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Returning to its franchise’s roots, Riddick is an entertaining, frequently brutal improvement, though I’m disappointed the second film’s PG-13 rating had to be bumped up to an R for this one. There are still rumblings of a fourth film called Furya and a TV series called Merc City in the works, so time will tell what’s left of Riddick’s story. The harsh universe he inhabits certainly seems to have more stories to tell.

Best line: (Consort) “So what is the best way to a man’s heart?” (Riddick) “Between the fourth and fifth rib. That’s where I usually go. I’ll put a twist at the end if I wanna make sure.”

 

Rank: List Runner-Up

 

© 2020 S.G. Liput
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