Review Roundup: ‘Adore,’ ‘Riddick’

Adore

Studio-Provided Plot Summary: Set in an Australian seaside town of otherworldly beauty and shot in lush 35mm Cinemascope, Adore establishes an aura of fable as it follows two women’s plunge into uncharted waters. Naomi Watts and Robin Wright fearlessly engage with both the physical and psychological components of the story, capturing the complex emotions and powerful desires driving their characters. Strong performances from relative newcomers Xavier Samuel (The Twilight Saga: Eclipse) and James Frecheville (Animal Kingdom) complement Watts and Wright’s and add another layer of intricacy to the story. Under the precise gaze of Fontaine’s camera, Adore radiates with intoxicating sensuality while exploring the intricacies of love, family, morality and passion.

My Thoughts: There’s one word, in one voice, that kept popping into my head while watching Adore:

Yeah. Thanks, South Park.

There are a lot of things to like about Adore. The four core actors here are all exceptional in their performances. The setting is absolutely gorgeous, as are the male leads. There are even points where the relationships that develop feel almost okay. Emphasis on almost, though. Even though the relationships here are not incestuous, they’re so close to it that there’s an undeniable “ick” factor that floats over the entire film. Look, as a guy who likes guys, I can’t say that I blame Lil (Watts) and Roz (Wright) as they begin having sexual relationships with each others’ sons. The sons are hot. But these are two women who have grown up with each other, and whose sons have done the same thing. Even though the short story the film is based on, “The Grandmothers,” outdates it, the plot reminds me of The Lonely Island’s “Motherlover,” except it’s not played for laughs here. There’s enough that works about Adore for me to recommend it, but I have to give a warning about the awkwardness that permeates the entire film.

riddick

Riddick

Studio-Provided Plot Synopsis: Riddick, the latest chapter of the groundbreaking saga that began with 2000’s hit sci-fi film Pitch Black and 2004’s The Chronicles of Riddick reunites writer/director David Twohy (A Perfect Getaway, The Fugitive) and star Vin Diesel (the Fast and Furious franchise, xXx). Diesel reprises his role as the antihero Riddick, a dangerous, escaped convict wanted by every bounty hunter in the known galaxy. The infamous Riddick has been left for dead on a sun-scorched planet that appears to be lifeless. Soon, however, he finds himself fighting for survival against alien predators more lethal than any human he’s encountered. The only way off is for Riddick to activate an emergency beacon and alert mercenaries who rapidly descend to the planet in search of their bounty. The first ship to arrive carries a new breed of merc, more lethal and violent, while the second is captained by a man whose pursuit of Riddick is more personal. With time running out and a storm on the horizon that no one could survive, his hunters won’t leave the planet without Riddick’s head as their trophy.

My Thoughts: Fans of 2000s Pitch Black were understandably thrown by its 2004 follow-up. The Chronicles of Riddick tamed things down to PG-13, which meant major changes to the character of Riddick. Universal Studios is hoping that fans of the original will come back for Riddick, which is certainly more in the vein of Pitch Black. Of course, to make this film nearly a decade after its predecessor crashed and burned, Riddick had to be made on a lower budget. Twohy does some creative work to cover for this. Purposely not showing Riddick’s actions when first encountering the crews of the ships allows for the threat of violence to form in the imagination, making Riddick seem potentially more dangerous. But this is also a film that involves a good half hour or so of having Vin Diesel alone on screen, and while Diesel’s take on the character works, the screen time involved may be just too much for him to handle. The supporting cast is largely just window dressing for the film, though Katee Sackhoff does some solid work as lone female Dahl. It’s a step up from its predecessor, but this film will be best viewed almost exclusively by Pitch Black‘s fans. And even then, they may not care for it.

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