June 16, 2004

Movie Review. The Chronicles of Riddick

The sequel to Pitch Black, I so wanted to really like this movie, but it did leave me kind of cold. There were so many good, yet half-baked ideas and missed opportunities in exchange for effects and trailer-worthy posturing. That doesn't mean I didn't have fun, just suggesting it could have been much more.

Let's start with the story, it picks up five years after the events of Pitch Black, and the events are becoming epic. Apparently there is a race of people called the Necromongers (??) are destroying worlds and "converting" the inhabitants to become Necromongers themselves, or die. Of course, the only one that can stop them is Riddick. Through a big plot contrivance, Riddick ends up speaking to Aerion (I think), one of the last surviving Elementals that knows of this impending evil. Our hero then gets way laid on his way and takes a detour to a prison planet. The main baddies all come full circle, I don't really want to give away too much.

There are many problems with the film, first of all, who came up with all of those silly names? Necromongers, Elementals, Crematoria, Furions, sounds like a bad Harry Potter rip-off, surely they could have been more original than that. Next, the story was a bit too epic in scope, it tries to be in too many places at once. The dialogue was pretty cheesy, Riddick's is OK, he is portrayed as ruthless, but not always terribly bright, and that works out all right. SOme of the design is a little goofy looking, too many stylized face masks and architecture. The editing was another issue, it was too fast, they should have slowed it down and allowed us to see some more of the action, it may have made more sense then.

There were a lot of good ideas that had the beginnings of exploration, but then got shoved to the side when the action kicked in. Like the idea of the Furions and that Riddick's background is more than he's let on. A race of Nazi styled religious zealots storming their way through the universe towards a new home. The way the character is tied back to the first film, this was something I had been wondering about going in.

David Twohy is a good director, but it looks like he wasn't sure what to do with the expanded budget, so he threw it all at the screen rather than at the story. For examples of him on better days, see the previously mentioned Pitch Black, or The Arrival, or Below, all three are excellent lower budget films that contain top notch writing. Vin Diesel is good as Riddick, the bald head, big muscles, and gravelly monotone voice give Riddick the edge needed to seem menacing and be a bad guy, but he is also good at showing a softer side sort of like Arnold Schwarzenegger in T2.

The biggest thing about the movie that was a problem was the ending, I won't give it away, but the movie was taking another interesting twist in a direction I didn't expect. But I also said, why end there? It is obviously done to set up a sequel, but it leaves you wanting more. I would have no problem recommending this movie to someone looking for a whiz-bang style sci-fi yarn, if you want something more serious, look elsewhere.
Mild Recommendation.


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