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Diana

Truth is always stranger than fiction with cinema often walking between both.  Whilst some fantastic documentaries have been seen, biographical works are more problematic.  Assumptions are made about the subject with their actions open to speculation.  One can never truly know how someone felt at any given time which is something the makers of ‘Diana’ ignore.  Although superficially interesting, it’s a glossy account of her final years more akin to something found in the many magazines she graced.

 

After her divorce from Prince Charles, Princess Diana (Naomi Watts) continued making headlines.  Her movements were continually scrutinised with her love-life providing much innuendo.  In particular her relationships with heart surgeon Hasnat Khan (Naveen Andrews) and Dodi Fayed (Cas Anvar) made headlines. Their lives would be impacted forever on a fateful night in Paris.

 

Already causing controversy ‘Diana’ ultimately is an ordinary film.  Whilst it charts an extraordinary life, the way it handles her existence continually falters.  Adhering to a repetitious and formulaic ‘boy gets girl/loses girl’ motif the script never really obtains a handle on Diana’s persona.  She was such an emotional enigma that one could forgive the film-makers for their guess-work.  Unfortunately their efforts result in a pedestrian romantic drama having the feel of a tawdry soap opera.

 

Watts anchors ‘Diana’ with a dignified poise it almost doesn’t deserve.  Commendably it isn’t afraid showing her talent in media manipulation and doesn’t portray her as a saint.  This aspect and the examination of the crushing weight of her celebrity status provide ‘Diana’ with most of its interest.  It’s a rather sad portrait of a desperate woman and one by which perhaps she wouldn’t have wanted to be remembered.

 

‘Diana’ occasionally feels like a feeble plod through her latter scandal-plagued life.  Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery although this unflattering visage only skims the surface of a complex and unenviable life.

 

Rating out of 10:  5

Riddick

Good things apparently come in threes.  In movies trilogies are highly sought after.  Nothing says ‘success’ than an on-going franchise with several lasting the distance.  But for every ‘Men in Black 3’ there’s a ‘Godfather Part 3’ with the money-spinning aims not always hitting the target.  ‘Riddick’ generally avoids this as it adheres to the qualities making its first entry so memorable.  Having a more compelling story than its first sequel, the Riddick’ series returns with a spring in its action-packed step.

 

Abandoned on a desolate planet, wanted criminal Riddick (Vin Diesel) yearns to return home.  In between surviving on a harsh terrain he seeks a way out.  This he finds at an outpost where he sends an emergency signal.  What he thinks is help arriving turns out to be two ships full of bounty hunters.  Among them are Santana (Jordi Molla) and Boss Johns (Matt Nable) who are determined to obtain the price on his head.  With the hunter becoming the hunted Riddick sets out to eradicate his enemies with ferocious zeal.

 

‘Riddick’ goes for a ‘back to basics’ approach discarding its predecessor’s complexity.  It’s a straight down the line action flick unapologetic in its aims.  It mostly works with Diesel conveying some genuine conflicted emotions in his anti-heroic character.  ‘Riddick’ is certainly not an acting piece but it at least makes a good attempt in making the protagonists appear three dimensional.  Even the so-called villains may not be what they seem with some surprises arising.

 

David Twohy’s direction generally keeps events moving. Whilst occasionally slow, the narrative picks up once the bounty hunters arrive.  A little more explanation in how Riddick came to be in his predicament would have helped but overall ‘Riddick’s has a solid story.  The CGI is suitably eye-popping which is amazing given ‘Riddick’s small budget.  Using a dash of ‘Alien’ and ‘Bladerunner’, the production team ensure the money is shown on screen with the action scenes becoming their major and excitement calling card.

 

‘Riddick’ is a great improvement on the last film.  Tense and fast moving it cements Diesel’s place among the action heroes he has tried hard to emulate.

 

Rating out of 10:  7